Do you often feel overwhelmed because you have too many things to do and not enough time? Are you exhausted all the time but just keep going? Do you get headaches, neck or back pain frequently? Do you stay awake at nights with racing thoughts of all the demands on you and the limited support? It doesn’t have to be this way. When you don’t feel you have the resources whether that is the personal characteristic, knowledge, skills or supports to deal with the demands of life, then you are likely to experience feelings of overwhelmed and tension that is often referred to as stress. When that pressure is high the gap between what we need to get through difficult situations and the limited resources we have can seem impossible to bridge but there is always a way.
It may make it easier to think of the effects of the physical demands on the body as stress and the emotional pressure as distress. Distress is then the feeling you experience when a threat is perceived .
Humans have a strong survival instinct. It’s as if we are programmed to stay alive. In the face of danger whether real or imagined it is normal for our body and mind to go into protection mode. You may fight to eliminate the threat , you may try to avoid or escape the danger or you may freeze until the threat has passed. All three of these reactions are normal ways of responding to danger and help us stay safe in the when we feel threatened.
Now you may be thinking that you know that there isn’t any real danger. Well, that depends on what you perceive is a threat. Are you afraid that if you don’t meet a deadline at work you will be perceived as incompetent? Do you feel pressure when you are trying to please everyone and you’re afraid that you won’t be liked or accepted if you can’t keep up? Do you try to juggle too many things and always feel like you are not good enough no matter how much you achieve? These are only a small number triggers that can cause you feel distressed. It’s actually not events that make us feel distressed but rather what we tell ourselves about the events.
Your psychologist can help you identify what is making you feel overloaded and can teach you strategies to change the situation or manage your thoughts and reactions so that you can cope better with life stressors.