Friday, January 25, 2013

Feeling overwhelmed

Ann of The Beat OCD Blog recently wrote a great post about worry called “My Brain Has Been Busy!” It resonated with me because I’ve been dealing with my own worries, the anxious thoughts piling up. In short, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
These are some of the things going on in my life right now:

*At work, deadlines are looming for a special section in the newspaper and for a monthly publication that we produce.
*It’s time to start my volunteer gig of putting together the quarterly newsletter for a church group. I need to have it done by Monday.
*The heater on my car doesn’t seem to be working right.
*I have to attend a chamber dinner Saturday for the newspaper, and I don’t have anything I think is suitable to wear.
*I’m working on ideas for a small business on the side (more about that in a later post).

No catastrophic illness here, no problem that can’t be fixed. I have control over some aspects of these situations, no control over other parts. I recognize that. I know that worry does no good.
Still, I’ve been worrying.
I don’t doubt that the worsening of depression plays a part in the increase in worry. It seems like life is handing me too much right now, but if I wasn’t also dealing with depression, I’d probably be able to handle it better.
But worry is also a habit of mine. I have the habit of not being able to let go of tension until all deadlines are met, all need-to-do tasks are done.
Having OCD helped me to develop this habit. Before I got any treatment for the disorder, obsessions and compulsions ruled my life. I couldn’t completely relax as long as something needed to be checked, cleaned or made safe. And something needed to be done a good portion of my time.
I kept the habit of worry even after my OCD improved.
I know there’s hope, though. There are ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve learned that when I pay attention to something besides my worried thoughts, I’m able to tackle the situations that are leading to the worry.
I have found that taking action helps.
For example, I made sure I made the necessary phone calls and conducted or set up the necessary interviews in plenty of time to finish my work before the deadlines arrive.
Another example: when I met with church group members about the newsletter, I asked specific questions to find out exactly what I needed to do.
I have also found that taking breaks to relax in the midst of worrisome tasks helps. Taking the time to watch a TV show with my husband or to hold one of my cats takes my mind off what I need to do.
It’s OK to relax before everything is done. What a wonderful thought.
Feeling overwhelmed is just going to have to be one of those feelings I let go of.

How do you cope when life’s demands seem overwhelming?

24 comments:

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for your comment.

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  2. Tina, I identify with this post a lot - especially when you say "it seems like life is handing me too much right now." I have never been good at relaxing when something needs to be done or there is something unpleasant to be got through - in college, I always got my papers done a week in advance because I just couldn't rest til with the deadline looming over my head. I'm realizing that in "real life," there is always more work, and I can't really "get ahead" the way I'd like to. "It's ok to relax before everything is done. What a wonderful thought."
    I will be taking that thought with me today. :)

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    1. You make an excellent point--in "real life" the work is never really done. There's always something more to do. So if we wait to finish everything to relax, we wouldn't relax.

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  3. The way in which I cope when life's demands get a bit overwhelming - and this may seem silly - is to watch a comedy. I've always done that. When I'm down, I watch a funny movie or tv show and it begins to make me laugh...and it's truly the best medicine :)

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    1. Keith, that doesn't seem silly. It seems like a very healthy thing to do! I don't watch a lot of comedies--don't know why--but it would probably do me some good.

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  4. I am a worrier too. I hate most when it keeps me up at night.

    You already know that I run to help w/ my mental health! I also try to jump right in and start tackling things. I feel better as I get things done. I know that if I just sit worrying it doesn't help me any.

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    1. Lisa, I ultimately feel better, too, if I go ahead and start doing something towards finishing a project. I've done plenty of sitting around and worrying, and I can attest to the fact that it doesn't do any good.

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  5. I make lists and if I can, I take a break and go for a swim. It's amazing how what seemed overwhelming a few hours earlier will then seem manageable. Sounds like you know what to do to help yourself, Tina, so bravo!

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I find that when I make lists, I feel a little more in control of a project or task. It helps alleviate my fear that I will forget something important.

      I used to swim quite often when I was in graduate school. It was such a balm to my anxiety.

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  6. It's always hardest when you are working with deadlines. Like ocdtalk, I'm a listmaker and schedule breaks for myself. I am also good at breaking big projects down into smaller, bite-size pieces...but again, that doesn't always work when life is making the kinds of demands that you're describing. When life gets crazy like that, all I can do is remember to breathe and to make sure that I'm taking a little "me" time during the day, even if it's just a ten-minute break here and there.

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    1. Nadine, I find myself thinking from time to time, "Breathe." It really does help to focus a bit on the breath. Breaking big projects down to manageable parts is such a good idea.

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  7. I am not good at juggling multiple projects at a time, it really amps up my anxiety. I usually take one project at a time and concentrate on it till it is done. I used to hate taking a vacation from work because I would come back to the office with a week or two backlog, plus my current work to do. I would just stay up all night and work weekends because I could not relax till it all got done. No one expected that of me, it was all something I dumped on my own shoulders. You are smart to say "it is okay to relax" because it truly is. Can't wait to hear about your small business venture!

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    1. Thanks, Krystal Lynn. I like what you say about no one expecting you to work nonstop until the work was done. I think we do tend to load up the expectations on ourselves, sometimes more than the expectations others have for us.

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  8. Ugh, sorry about all this stuff. Hate when life gets crazy like that. It seems to come in waves too. Unfortunately, learning to sit with the uncomfortable feeling is just part of recovery from anxiety. It sure stinks though. I think it's good that you force yourself to relax some in the middle of the "worrrying stuff." It probably rejuvenates your mind to be able to better tackle all your tasks later. Hope this weeks goes well for you. You're pretty amazing, so I get the feeling you will make it through with flying colors!

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Sunny. That is difficult for me--to sit with the uncomfortable anxiety. But I need to take the opportunities to do so and learn from them.

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  9. Sorry things seem to be piling up for you. Yes it is okay to relax before everything is done! When I'm in situations like this, "nice to do" things are summarily removed from my plate... with only the absolutely "needful" things remaining. The hard part is an accompanying guilt which can come from saying "no" (not always, but sometimes).

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    1. That's a good way to separate things--the "nice to do" from the "needful" things. I find that it's hard for me to give up what I want to do for just what I need to do. And, yes, guilt is part of the package.

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  10. It sounds as though you've got a lot on your plate, currently. Just hold on tight, and do what you must do (work, etc). Remember that it will (as everything always does) pass.

    To be honest, I just hold on tight until the overwhelmed feeling subsides. I tend to hide away a bit though, and withdraw from others. Don't take my way of dealing with that, though ;0)

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    1. Amanda, Thanks for the reminder that this time of busyness will pass. It can't pass too soon!

      I tend to withdraw, too, and it's not my best way of dealing with things either.

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  11. Sometimes i have to catch myself when i'm feeling overwhelmed- because i create the feeling in myself. When i have 'too many' library books just waiting to be read, i sometimes have to tell myself to just stop it. Starting one by one to get things done tones down my worrying, as does taking a reading break.

    Good luck with all your projects!

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    1. Karin, thank you. I do the same thing--create the feeling in myself of being overwhelmed. My attitude about what I have to do has a lot to do with it.

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  12. I used to worry a lot about getting things done, but not as much any more. I think meditation helped me to learn to take one thing at a time. I do think spending time with pets or just enjoying a TV show or doing another activity can be helpful in relaxing. One thing I need to learn to do more is not try to get EVERYTHING done in one sitting. It's easier to do things in bits and pieces and much more enjoyable. Hope all is well with you!

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    1. Thank you, Katherine. You make such a good point about not trying to get everything done in one sitting. That is what I was trying to do this weekend with a newsletter I was creating. I finally had to make myself stop before it was done, after working on it for hours.

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