How to Keep Going When You Feel Completely Overwhelmed

Last week, I found myself completely overwhelmed. I had two midterms, two projects, family issues, and pressure at work. I couldn't think of what I should do first; I just found myself stuck because I was so anxious about all I had to do, so I didn't do anything and this made me even more anxious. It was a vicious cycle. Though I had these feelings, I still had to keep going. So, I came up with some strategies to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. 

The first thing to do is to breathe. Take a couple of deep breaths; inhale for seven seconds, hold for five seconds, exhale for eight seconds. This is a biological way to calm your body down and slow your heart rate if it is raised. This will also calm you down emotionally and may make it easier to prioritize what you have to do. 

One strategy is to talk it out. Whether it's calling your parents and ranting about everything you have to do, calling a friend and talking about your anxious feelings, or talking to yourself in your car trying to work out what to do first, saying it out loud is a great way to organize what is going on inside your head and allows you to let everything out. Additionally, when you talk it out, many people will probably have further advice you can follow or modify to fit your needs, or they can give you sympathy and make you feel validated in your stress.

The next tip is to make a list of everything you have to do. While the idea of seeing everything on paper may seem overwhelming, it may allow you to realize that some things can be put off, or even don't have to be done right away. This can also help you prioritize what you should do first, and it can also show you easy things that you can do quickly to get them off your list. If you get the easy things off your to-do list, you will feel productive and it will lessen your anxiety so you can feel capable of finishing other tasks. 

Once you have started the tasks on your to-do list, it may be hard to keep going or it may still feel absolutely overwhelming. Try setting a timer to manage how long you spend on tasks. Studying or cleaning the house for 45 minutes straight may seem daunting, but if you set a timer for 15 minutes and take a break in between it seems more manageable. If you are studying for a midterm, set a timer for 30 minutes and take a 10 minute break to check Instagram, read a book, take a walk, or listen to some music. This will help your brain reset and you will feel ready for the next section of studying. If 30 minutes is too long, find out how long you can focus, even if it's just five minutes. Once you are comfortable with that you can try to extend the time, but if five minutes is all you can do before you need a break, that's okay. Do what you can do.

There are many tips and tricks to help you keep going when you are feeling overwhelmed, but the main thing to remember is that all of these tips may work for you, some combination may, or maybe none at all will work. When things get overwhelming, it can feel discouraging if you look up tips and they don't work for you. Though it is hard, you have to find what strategies work for you — but I hope this helps.