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Overwhelmed? These 6 Strategies May Help

Overwhelm is a 20-foot wave crashing into you. Repeatedly. Psychologist Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, described overwhelm as “feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion.” When we think a stressor is too great for us to manage, we feel overwhelmed, she said.

Feeling overwhelmed has many faces. According to Deibler, overwhelm might manifest as an intense emotion, such as anxiety, anger or irritability; maladaptive thought process, such as worry, doubt or helplessness; and behavior, such as crying, lashing out or experiencing a panic attack.

Anxiety seems to be the most common, according to L. Kevin Chapman, Ph.D, a psychologist and associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Louisville, where he studies and treats anxiety disorders. For instance, you might experience a fast heartbeat, sweating, tingling, chest pain or shortness of breath, he said.

What causes overwhelm?

16 Comments to
Overwhelmed? These 6 Strategies May Help

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  1. I agree with these strategies. They are all very helpful. But where is Jesus in all of this? Jesus is our counselor. He has promised us peace in times of trouble. “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

    • When I am engaging all these stress relief actions I’m praying at the same time, incessantly, intensely. God hears us, He knows the seriousness of our hearts and the damaging issues generated by this stress. You’ve made a #1 point, and I personally appreciate your having brought up this. Currently I’ve done 25 sessions with VA counselors, PhD’s, @ the VA for PTSD. They have helped me reduce the trauma, but I dare say I’ve not left God out of any of it. With God, it’s going to work out much better, no doubt, none whatsoever.

      • James: I am so excited to hear that. So many people in this world have turned against God and focus on pleasing themselves. The consequences I see from this are so many people in distress, depressed, sad and lonely. I want them to have what I have. It wasn’t always this way for me; I was 31 years old before I finally gave my life to Jesus. Since that time, my focus, desires and actions have changed. I have been transformed by Jesus Christ. Amen

    • Wow, you have no idea how right on time your comment is! I prayed before reading this and praying made me feel better than all of these suggestions combined! I truly believe your post is here to help people like me really trust the Lord. Thank you and keep spreading His Word! In Jesus’ love!

  2. Thank you for many excellent articles and thoughts.
    I particularly enjoyed this one on how we can be become overwhelmed, and also your other on how to
    get our loved ones the psychological “we” need.
    You remind me much of Kay Jamieson Redfield.

    I have a wonderful, bright, successful daughter who is going through what I consider “Success Syndrome”–the gross carving and building is over
    and now only the “sandpaper refinement” stage is left. Yes, this is the important, essential part of her professional life–which is carrying over to her personal life, living, being, and doing.

    She is irritable and pessimistic. A few years ago she turned down a prospective position as principal of a highly regarded high school in order to ressurect a fledging elementary school–which today only a few years later is successful under her leadership.

    Recently she told me, “Dad, this school would have succeeded irrespective of me. It wasn’t me who made it happen. It just happened.”

    Is that humility or insecurity? Where does dad go
    from here. Please advise. Thank you.

    Continued Success and Blessings–Rick Martinez

  3. Thank you for sharing! As a therapist I see many clients feeling overwhelmed that leads to anxiety. I myself can fall victim to the overwhelmed experience and this was also a helpful reminder for me!

  4. I feel that I do a lot of things to keep my husband happy and he never takes a minute to even let me know that he appreciates what I do. We have an 8 month old baby girl n my mom n me take care of her he never even offers to change a diaper. I been feeling overwhelm lately because his 20year old sister just told us she is pregnant and the bf doesn’t want the baby so now she crys anf calls my husband when ever she needs money and he is always telling me how much she suffer. She doesn’, I worked my entired pregnancy and he never put thay mutch attention I need help or an advice am I been selfish or is he not giving me the attention I need?

    • “I feel that I do a lot of things to keep my husband happy….”
      The answer is in your first sentence. You have conditioned your husband to become dependent on you, and appreciation gets overlooked. Therefore perhaps he doesn’t think that YOU need (or want) him “to do” for you…or thinks that he doesn’t have enough to offer you. So he helps his sister who definitely shows need.

  5. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, etc….all those years of education to arrive at those suggestions to help relieve being overwhelmed??
    I wish it were that easy!
    After that walk, after that deep breath, the cause or causes are still going to be there exactly as they were before.
    Being overwhelmed is more than just a feeling…it is KNOWING the FACT that important issues, circumstances, and problems need to be addressed…but have gone beyond our physical and/or financial, and/or emotional ability to resolve them no matter how hard we tried.
    So now what?
    I just say: “I’ve had it! Who cares?? What’s the use?? Come what may.”

    • I hear you! I feel the same way. I need some real help to alieviate the overwhemingness of my life. Yes, the walks, deep breaths used to work but not anymore. When I am done and come back to reality, every thing, problem and circumstance is still there staring me in the face and seems to grow exponentially, to the point of… “I can’t do this, but I have to.” I hate feeling this way and on the brink of tears, anger and withdrawl. I feel as if I have ruined any relationship i have because I can’t just deal with life as well as everyone else around me seems to. Talking about nothing to people around me seems fake and I am not going to start sharing whats bothering me, than I just sound like a whiner. LIKE RIGHT NOW. UGH!

      So I agree, Now what?!?!

  6. Hi, “overwhelmed as well,” I’m still over-whelmed with the same problems and MORE! So I searched the net again, and ironically came to this site, which I had forgotten about…and I read your message.

    I really, really wish I could help you…but I don’t have the stamina and clear-headedness needed to help anyone…as I muddle thru life myself. But I hope at least it helps you a bit to know that we BOTH share heavy burdens (alone?)…and if it were possible, at least I would listen to you.

    I firmly believe in God and I pray, but it seems I’m only answered with even MORE trials.

    I remind myself occasionally that eventually EVERYthing will pass…because things do pass, even though what we are enduring truly seems endless, especially with no let up in between.

    Some things get resolved on their own, sometimes things get worse, and often things get better. And it’s all supposed to make us stronger…although I don’t feel that way from previous burdens that had passed.
    Anyway, take care of YOUR self. Be kind to yourself. And indulge in a gooey treat or a treat of your choice!
    BIG ((HUG))

  7. The new year has been unlike no other of the previous 27 ive been with my girlfriend for nine years and I have much to fix as a man to be a considerable partner and father. My deep in thought silence is due to doubts in belief on my own behalf as being the person I’m expected to be in her eyes. I’m far from perfect and am completely overwhelmed by the changes necessary to gain her approval. My over analyst mind frame has her believing I’m hiding something other than showing her my weakness of not having an answer for all our problems in life. I’m stressed out and the steps are not working as a final solution. Now what

    • She needs you to share this with her (if you haven’t already!) Choose your timing wisely xo

  8. I’m learning to recognize the stuff that gets me anxious and feeling overwhelmed. I say “no” to some things when I can so that I don’t feel overbooked with stuff. That way I keep things in my control. I also pray a lot, read the bible, especially the psalms. I can get into a meditative state when I do that. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I’m working on trying to quit doing that because all that does is make me feel more overwhelmed.

  9. I try to control some situations that I think are going to overwhelm me by saying “no” to some things when I can. That way I don’t feel too “overbooked” with stuff and I feel more in control of my life. I also read the bible, especially the psalms. It almost has a meditative effect on me.

  10. I was so confused and taken aback by the way “overwhelm” was used in this article I actually looked it up to see if it could be used as a noun. It can be, just not like that. No wonder it was distracting. You can’t “experience overwhelm.” You can overwhelm someone and be overwhelmed (verb plus object). You can experience something overwhelming (adjective). You can wallow in overwhelmingness (noun). I personally experienced overwhelmedness (another viable noun form) in counting all the times this author uses the word “overwhelm” incorrectly. I don’t understand how someone could write such a cogent article on such an important topic and use acceptable grammar and spelling throughout, but then go and make up their own word!! I haz overwhelm!



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