Overwhelmed at work: 6 ways to manage your stress

These days, it’s not uncommon to frequently experience occupational stress. In fact, the World Health Organisation recently recognised burnout as an official medical diagnosis, with symptoms heavily linked to workplace stress and overwhelm.

In this week’s guide, we’re exploring what overwhelm is, how it manifests itself, and how you can manage it in a simple and productive manner.


What is overwhelm?

Overwhelm is a mental state where thoughts or feelings overpower your line of thought. This can last for a brief moment, or continue for an extended period of time.


What are the effects of being overwhelmed at work?

At work, you may experience overwhelm when you open your inbox to find lots of unread emails, or to be asked to do something daunting at the last minute, such as giving a presentation. You may find yourself focusing on the negative feelings associated with these tasks, projecting negative thoughts, or simply seeing these tasks as mountains of work. This can feel stressful, and your body may experience an increase in cortisol levels as a direct effect.


How to handle your stress and reduce your overwhelm

If you often feel like your work is piling on top of you, or that you’re constantly playing catch-up, you may wish to adopt a few of these stress-relief strategies and manage your work in a more productive way:

  1. When overwhelm occurs, act professionally, but take a note of your emotions - they are still valid. Today’s workplaces are becoming more open on the subject of mental health, so it’s important to value how you feel, and communicate those feelings at an appropriate moment.

  2. Speak to your boss, or if you work for yourself, your clients. Highlight the areas that cause peak stress in your day, such as last-minute demands, and explain how this can be more challenging. Even better, provide alternative solutions that will avoid these occurrences in the future.

  3. Start taking a note of the tasks that cause you to feel overwhelmed - this can help you to identify what makes you feel this way, and tackle them proactively.

  4. If you feel overwhelmed often, it may be worth spending some time identifying how stress appears in your mind, body, and emotions. While it may not be possible to control the causes of stress, you can certainly ease the symptoms - join The Reignite Project, our free e-course, to work through your stress and prevent burnout.

  5. In most cases, learning to say no to too much work can be a useful tool. When workloads are too much, we tend to be less productive, despite working longer hours. By knowing your limits, and not overpromising, you will set realistic expectations, as well as reducing your stress levels.

  6. Improve your mental resilience by practicing mindfulness. With many blue-chip companies adopting mindful practices, it shows how important checking in with your mental health really is. This could be over a cup of tea, or on a weekly or monthly basis. Join the Calmer Community for monthly inspiration in a range of formats and practices.