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Why Do I Feel Like I Can’t Cope?


Modern life is complicated. With so many people making demands on you and so many conflicting and competing agendas, it often seems like there’s too much to do and too little time to get it all done.

But sometimes the pressure and stress of our busy schedules can leave us feeling overwhelmed by life’s pressures which in turn can negatively impact our wellbeing. It is important to find a healthy and effective way to manage stress or you may start to feel inundated by intense feelings which could affect your ability to think and act rationally or function normally.

Lots of us will feel overwhelmed at some point in our life, especially if we face multiple challenges in rapid succession, or we find our coping skills are lacking.


Common Antecedents:


Common issues that may cause us to feel overwhelmed include:

• Relationship problems
• Family breakdown
• Work pressures
• Unemployment
• Financial difficulties
• Insufficient time to complete tasks
• Bullying or harassment
• Illness or injury
• Changes in lifestyle – having children, buying a house
• Traumatic events
• Death of a loved one
• Isolation or lack of support
• Underlying mental or physical health issues


Signs You May Be Overwhelmed:


Below are some symptoms that may indicate you are overwhelmed and your stress levels are unhealthy:

• Inability to cope (maybe with things that are of little significance)
• Feeling hyper-alert
• Difficulty sleeping
• Changing appetite
• Headaches and/or muscle tension
• Trouble concentrating
• Irritability
• Mood changes
• Extreme fatigue
• Withdrawing from family and friends
• Suicidal thoughts
• Using drugs or alcohol to cope


Are You Overwhelmed With Anxiety?


Feeling overwhelmed can sometimes be a sign of anxiety. Anxiety is an overwhelming condition; it can feel like it is always present in your life and like it is all you can focus on. Anxiety triggers your fight or flight response and as such, uses all your physical and mental energy. It actually overwhelms you in ways you may not even realise. It is interesting to note that during times when you are suffering from intense anxiety, your brain is so overwhelmed that it reduces the energy it provides to other areas of your body. For example, anxiety often produces digestion problems because your brain pays less attention to the digestive system.


How Do I Stop Feeling Overwhelmed?


1. Identify what is causing you stress: It may be one particular issue or it may be a number of issues.

2. Review your current coping strategies: What methods have you been using? What works? What doesn’t? Make appropriate changes.

3. Figure out what you can change about your situation: One thing you may be able to change is the way you are thinking about the situation.

4. Accept your anxiety: it doesn’t mean you have to keep letting it impact on your life but realise that some anxiety is normal.

5. Be realistic about your capabilities: Learn to say NO.

6. Stop trying to be everything: No one is perfect so stop trying to be a superwoman/man. Ask for help if needed.

7. Take it one step at a time: Deal with one task at a time, make a list and chunk your activities.

8. Share the load: Talk to someone. If you’re not having a good day, don’t try to cope alone.

9. Cut the criticism: Don’t expect too much of yourself or others.

10. Meditate: Take 10 – 20 minutes for quiet reflection.

11. Exercise: Regular physical activity benefits the mind and body.

12. Use distraction: Think about something else – concentrate on a hobby or talk to a friend.

13. Go for a walk: Just getting out of the house can help to get some perspective.

14. Write it down: Journaling is great when your thoughts are overwhelming. Writing has a powerful effect on your thoughts and mind set.



Therapy May Help


Certain levels of stress help motivate us to be productive and achieve our goals; however, stress becomes a problem when it stops being helpful and starts to overwhelm us. Too much stress over long periods may lead to burnout and emotional exhaustion so it is important to take care of yourself.

Sometimes we need to talk to a professional to help us work through difficult emotions, stress or trauma, understand the cause of our overwhelming feelings, gain a better perspective on situations that leave us overwhelmed and address recurring issues.

Contact us via our inquiry form to find out more.



Author: Clare Mansveld

Photo: By Alexander Lam sourced via Unsplash