Our modern lives have become increasingly demanding, presenting us with ever more complex challenges at a near-relentless pace. Every human on this planet will or has experienced that state where there is just ‘too much on our plate’.

It is an overwhelming feeling of having no idea how you will ever get it all done. Being emotionally overwhelmed means to be completely submerged by your thoughts and emotions about all of life’s current problems, to the point where you lack productivity and feel frozen or paralysed.

When we have too many demands on our thinking over an extended period of time, we usually react by being frantically busy, by procrastinating, or by doing things clumsily or inefficiently. Any of these effects when experienced on a daily basis leave us feeling even more overwhelmed, leading to anxiety, unhealthy stress, and even burnout.

Perfectionism for instance can lead us to make tasks or projects bigger than they need to be. As things pile up, the sense of overwhelm grows, which can then lead to more procrastination and more overwhelm.

When you get to the point when you know that working harder on the issue is not the answer, that is a sign you need a different approach.

Perhaps next time you start feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself the question ‘What one or two things, if taken off my plate would alleviate 80% of the stress that I feel right now?’. While you may still be responsible for these items and cannot actually take them off your plate, this question can still help you identify a significant source of your stress.

Also, there are plenty of grounding techniques you can use when feeling overwhelmed. When you consciously try deep breathing, it triggers your body’s relaxation response and can come in handy during particularly stressful situations. Additionally, practicing yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your body’s response to anxiety, as each exercise helps you to focus on your breath.

One thing that is particularly helpful is to practice those techniques when you are not feeling overwhelmed. Those strategies are like building a muscle and are easier to use the more you practice.

Most importantly be kind to yourself when facing big emotions, being brave enough to seek for help when needed.