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3 Key Causes of Feeling Overwhelmed (and what to do about them)

3 key causes of feeling overwhelmed (and what to do about them)

People often think that the reason they feel overwhelmed are things like having a to-do list as long as your arm, being constantly busy or having too many things to juggle in your life and work.

Those things can definitely present challenges but they are not the real cause.

The real cause is how you respond to those things.

For example, have you ever noticed that you can have two people with exactly the same situation with the same challenges and one can feel totally overwhelmed whilst the other is sailing through it all with ease, not feeling overwhelmed at all?

That is because they are both responding in different ways.

So, it is really useful to know some of the key causes that trigger how you respond to situations and circumstances so that you can effectively respond in a way that reduces or eliminates feeling overwhelmed.

To help you get started with that, here are three key causes of feeling overwhelmed and what to do about them:

1. Behaviour Patterns

Our own behaviour patterns can be a trigger or source of increasing overwhelm. They can be so deeply entrenched that we don’t even realise that they are part of the problem.

The first step to effectively combat this is to create awareness. Ask yourself “what are my behaviour patterns contributing to the situation or my feelings of overwhelm?”

Get curious about the behaviour patterns you have that might be causing you to feel overwhelmed. Work on changing those behaviour patterns and replacing them with ones that serve you better.

2. Mindset Habits

Your mindset habits are perhaps the biggest cause of feeling overwhelmed.

That is because any thought you have triggers feelings. And when those thoughts are habitual, they will trigger the same feelings ongoing.

For example, if you have a to-do list as long as your arm and you keep thinking things like “I can’t cope with all of this ” or “I have too much to do” that is going to trigger very different emotions to thinking things like “I’ve got this” or “I am just going to focus on what is most important and take one step at a time.”

So understanding what your mindset habits are, how the impact your feelings and fostering mindset habits that serve you well, is a powerful way to reduce feeling overwhelmed.

3. Abdicating Personal Responsibility.

When you feel overwhelmed, it is easy to fall into the trap of blame, doing nothing, moaning, complaining, having a never-ending pity party, or even playing the victim.

None of those things serve you. They keep the overwhelm cycle rolling.

You are the captain of your life. No-one else. Make sure you are not abdicating personal responsibility for what is going on in your life and how you respond to a situation. Taking personal responsibnility directly impacts your feelings, experiences and results.

Improving these three areas can significantly reduce feelings of overwhelm.

What improvements or changes could you make to those three areas to help yourself feel less overwhelmed in your life or work?

Download your free Set Yourself Up To Succeed self assessment workbook.

  • Lois Hoffman

    Great post for days like today. One thing at a time. I’ve got this! Thanks!

  • Lois, I am so pleased you found it useful.

  • Alana Mautone

    “How you react” is so true for many parts of life. I tend to overreact (rather than sitting down and analyzing the situation), which, over the years, has caused me extra worry (and probably high blood pressure).

  • Alana, it is good that you have that awareness about yourself.