TOP TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE FEELING OVERWHELMED / BY KIRSTIN KULUKUNDIS Let’s talk about feeling overwhelmed and provide some top tips on how we can best manage this dreadful, yet all too familiar, emotion. Dealing with overwhelm It may seem counter-intuitive to discuss being overwhelmed during the summer months, a period of holiday time for many. But it’s not. This is the perfect time. seems to be a natural and First, some of us are able to recurring part of our go on vacation. If we can, everyday life. We simply holidays provide reflection can’t avoid it in today’s world. time which is ideal for Because of this, it makes pondering better life habits. sense to take a moment to Also, feeling overwhelmed better understand its causes can come at any time, and even more so with heat, so and learn some top tips for the sooner we can be its management. These prepared the better. Lastly, pointers can help us all be this summer brings more our best. mounted stress than usual for many of us,
AT FORTY FIVE MAGAZINE /23 Opportunities for many of us have been adversely affected by the pandemic. A familiar feeling Stress is acceptable in manageable doses. It can create a surge in intensity of focus which helps us accomplish a task. However, a tad too much and the effects are disastrous. The weight of being pulled down overpowers and productivity can crumble. The worse yet is that no matter how much life experience we have, these feelings of overwhelm will recur. Statistics say that over 90% of us have felt a sense of overwhelm at least once in the last 7- 10 days. This takes hold like a surging wave instigated by something we could predict - like juggling too many responsibilities at the same time - or it can strike suddenly, triggered by something not forecastable. Overwhelm can also lurk as a constant, low-grade threat underlying the surface, present but not threatening until too late… ominous like a vine growing around our necks, slowly tightening. Either way, overwhelm is unwelcome and unpleasant. But it could be managed. Let’s now discuss how our brain reacts to overwhelm and provide helpful tips on effectively tackling it. What happens in our brain When we are feeling close to reaching the point of overwhelm, our brain seeks to resolve the situation and calm us down. I’m not a doctor but what has been explained to me by a Biologist is that is two things happen when we are feeling overwhelmed. Stick with me for this basic biology class because it explains a lot about our behaviour when in this state. First, our brain tries to reduce the demand on it, so extraneous noises which we can usually tolerate become unbearable (like footballs being hit onto your wall. That’s which made me lose my cool with one kid last week, something I still feel bad about). Second, when we are under pressure our brain relies on fast, instinctive processes to make decisions rather than slower, more analytic ones. That make us more likely to fall into old habits and also reduces our ability to be rational or problem solve. When feeling overwhelmed, we judge situations in basic terms, as good or bad, positive or negative. Life is not that obvious. In reality, things are rarely as bad as they feel when we are in that state of being overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that the negativity we feel when overwhelmed is a symptom, not a reality. When we calm down, our thinking brain kicks back in, and things don’t seem quite so horrendous. We feel more hopeful. When we take a breather, we literally feel better. So when the quicksand and level is rising ... or the vine around our neck is tightening… it literally is best to have a time out. Let’s talk about ways to tackle overwhelm in a minute. OK, so we understand now what happens to our brain when we are overwhelmed. We also get that we all live in a world where this feeling will reoccur. Let’s benefit by better equipping ourselves for dealing with this feeling by better understand its causes and learning some helpful pointers on what to remember when we are next feeling overwhelmed. Causes of overwhelm We all must learn to recognise our individual triggers which can make us feel overwhelmed. A classic for many is having too many balls in the air. Some of us may like being mega-busy. However, if we are not mindful, being occupied
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