How to Cope When You are Overwhelmed at Work

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We’ve all been there. That moment of terror where you’d rather drop out of school then write another paper. Or even consider being a stay at home girl/boyfriend than get up and go to another stressful day at work. It’s completely normal to get stressed out at work or school. However, even though it is normal, it’s never fun. In fact, being stressed out when you are overwhelmed is bad for your job performance and your life. Do not fear! There are ways to deal with when you’re stressed and how to prevent being overwhelmed at your job.

Recognize What is Making You Stressed and Overwhelmed

Is there a deadline fast approaching, a non-ending amount of paperwork, or even a snotty co-worker? Being able to understand why you’re feeling the way you are will help you prevent and deal

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with stress. When you’re overwhelmed, your work performance drops significantly, making you even more stressed. Unless changes can be implemented, the cycle continues. By figuring out what exactly is the root of the problem, you can conquer it. Here are some ways you can figure out what is making you stressed.

1. Discovering What Makes You Feel Calm: When you finally get paid, do you sigh with relief? Or is it that moment you send that very important email? By looking at what makes you happy, anything that prevents that happiness is a stress. For example, people who are stressed about money tend to feel relief when they get paid.

2. Your Diet: Did you know what you eat can actually affect your emotions? The “You are What You Eat” idiom is more literal than what we thought. Diets with high doses of fats, sugars, and caffeine are linked to creating stress in the body. Fast foods and preservatives lack the natural vitamins your body needs that keep you balanced. Caffeine interact with neurotransmitters, stimulating the brain.  Stress creates anxiety, and stimulation from caffeine can further anxiety and sometimes even cause insomnia.

3. Your Personal Network: Are you getting enough social interaction? According to Psychology Today, new evidence proves that when humans do not meet their need for social relationships, they frequently deteriorate mentally and sometimes physically. It is much easier to fall into stress when you don’t have a support system. Different attitudes and perspectives on your situation allow you to see a less overwhelming sight of your predicament, relieving some of your stress.

Preventing Stress and Being Overwhelmed at Work

The best way to avoid stress at work is to prevent it. Although not easy, preventing being overwhelmed at work is possible. Your job naturally causes stress because you have little control over what happens at the workplace. In recent years, stories of layoffs and unemployment have made workplace stress the norm. Fear of being replaced compels workers to take on more projects and assignments than ever before. However, this causes the feeling of being overwhelmed. No matter what, a happy worker is a better worker. Being able to prevent feeling overwhelmed in the workplace will make you more productive at your job. Now that you know how to pinpoint what creates stress in your life, here are some tips on how to prevent it.

1. Manage Your Time: This may mean waking up earlier so you’re not scared of being late to work, scheduling out your assignments in to-do lists, or even say no to new projects. By not procrastinating, you’ll prevent the anxiety and stress caused by it. If you don’t think you can handle a new project at work, it’s okay. As long as you are polite about it, most employers are very understanding and would rather you complete your work accurately than be spread too thin. If your employers have a problem with that, you may need to find a new job.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep: Sleep is essential to lead a happy and healthy life, unfortunately nearly a


quarter of Americans report that they do not get enough sleep. Sleep keeps your mind sharp, leading to a better focus in the workplace. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that Adults (18-64) should average eight hours a sleep a night. Finding a comfortable bedtime routine, sticking to a regular sleep schedule (even on the weekends), and avoiding sleep killers like alcohol and caffeine will regulate and let you get a better night’s rest working out.

3. Be Mentally and Physically Active: As previously mentioned, socially interacting with others prevents personal stress. The same goes for spending time working out and staying active. Being active produces more endorphins which leads to all those awesome amazing feelings our brains produce. It can also be a good distraction (if that actually exists) to your anxiety. Don’t forget to socially interact with others as well. You could kill two birds with one stone by going to the gym or taking a yoga class with friends!

Fixing Stress and Being Overwhelmed at Work

It’s happened…you’re about to rip your hair out because you feel so overwhelmed. It’s okay, for one being stressed at work is actually completely normal, but it still isn’t healthy. When you are stressed you react differently in social situations. Depending on what type of job you work, this could greatly alter your work and workspace. Whether it’s in the moment (a presentation or meeting) or over time (a deadline or project load), it’s completely possible to manage stress and the sense of being overwhelmed by taking a few steps.

1. Communication: When two parties are able to understand each other, it alleviates stress. Sharing your feelings about a certain project, explaining personal problems, or a conflict with another co-worker to your boss or HR is a great way to make your first step in fixing your stress at work. Another way is being assertive when you communicate. If you tend to be more passive, you’re likely to place yourself in an overwhelmed state. When you are assertive with what you can and cannot do, you fix your stress and even some resentment.

2. Dealing with Stress in the Moment: If you’re suddenly feeling very overwhelmed right before a big meeting or something of that matter, sometimes the best thing to do is take a deep breath. Experts say deep breathing and meditation relieve stress almost instantly. For those who are more visually perceptive, just looking at a serene picture like a beach scene will lower stress levels and feeling overwhelmed. You can always strike your best “Power Pose” right before that important presentation. According to this study, 2 minutes in one of these poses will relieve stress and make you more confident at work. Power Pose

3. Dealing with Stress Over an Extended Period: If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed at work you will have to take more direct measures to stop the cycle. You’re first step is to alter the situation that is making you feel overwhelmed. If it’s a paper or deadline, then finish it. If it’s a person, then engage in a conversation about their behavior. If you cannot alter the situation then you must adapt. By reframing your problem in a more positive attitude, looking at the overall picture to get a better understanding, and resisting perfectionism, your sense of being overwhelmed will diminish.

Extra Tip: Everyone deals with stress differently, however if you go to alcohol or drugs to relieve stress you may have a serious problem. To learn more about the correlation of stress and drug and alcohol abuse, click here.

Do you have a tip on how you beat feeling overwhelmed at work or school? Comment below!

References: HelpGuide,, Psychology Today

How to Cope When You are Overwhelmed at Work

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