That Feeling of Overwhelm
- Do you find yourself feeling sad, angry or afraid and don’t know why?
- Are there times when circumstances are sad, scary, or anger-inducing while you find yourself feeling either nothing or you have emotionally distanced yourself from the situation altogether?
- Do you find yourself jumping to solutions without carefully exploring and considering all possibilities?
- Do you find yourself reacting to little situations with big reactions?
- Do you find that seemingly routine conversations with other loved ones have become minefields for either emotional outburst or inability to engage or even thoughts of needing to escape?
- Are you able to recognize points of view that are different from your own?
- Do you find it increasingly difficult to maintain spaces that are free of clutter and well organized?
- Do you find that your appetite has changed either to eat more or less than you did before your caregiving responsibilities? Do you find that you are drawn to less nutritious foods for comfort?
- Do you find you are drawn to screens or non-productive tasks to avoid situations that make you either feel uncomfortable emotions or shut down emotions all together?
- Are you finding that you are motivated to exercise as much as in the past?
- Does it seem that you are fighting off illness or medical symptoms more than before?
- Do everyday tasks seem to take much more energy than in the past?
- Do you feel drained?
If you find yourself answering these questions as a “yes”, then you are most likely experiencing overwhelm. If overwhelm has crept into your daily thought life, you may have crippled your ability to communicate, take care of your essential needs and reach out to others. You may take comfort in the knowledge that many who are caring for loved ones feel the same way.
Overwhelm sucks joy, robs the mind of the ability to think outside of a limited sphere, and through its attack on the limbic system of the body and brain, impacts the autoimmune system, can be the catalyst for anxiety attacks, can be the source of chronic pain and can impact lung, digestive and cardiovascular function. As a therapist who specializes in working with caregiving families, I frequently find that it is the emotions of overwhelm that compel individuals, couples and families to engage in therapy.
It is important for you, as the caregiver to take inventory of what you are able to stay on top of and ask for help, gain further information about support that is available and make space for self-care including appropriate nutrition, sleep, exercise and connection to others who have some understanding of what you are going through.
When it comes to overwhelm, change can be just one more thing to be overwhelmed about. It is important to start with one small thing where the results will be the most felt. Once progress is made in one area, moving on to the next while noting the progress will help the overwhelm to come back under control.