Everything Overwhelms Me (7 effective tips to cope)

In today’s blog post, we focus on a common statement, ‘everything overwhelms me’. To begin with, we focus on defining what it is to be overwhelmed, which may lead anyone to say ‘everything overwhelms me’. We then emphasise on the symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, followed by looking into the mental health issues that can trigger overwhelm. We then  briefly discuss the effects of feeling this way. Lastly, we talk about a few tips that can help us reduce the intensity of the overwhelming emotions.

Everything Overwhelms Me:

The emotion of overwhelm is experienced when everything around us feels too much for us to handle and that we feel as if we can no longer manage it. While some issues can serve as obvious triggers for us to get overwhelmed, there can be some which are not very obvious and therefore could be indicative of an underlying mental health issue.

There are certain ways in which we can control the extent to which ‘everything overwhelms me’ such as:

  • Moving away from the stimuli
  • Take a mental break
  • Set boundaries
  • Setting a downtime
  • Letting perfectionism go
  • Developing self awareness and mindfulness
  • Talking to a therapist

What is it to be overwhelmed?

Being emotionally overwhelmed is more than just being stressed. When we are overwhelmed, we are likely to be completely submerged in our thoughts and feelings about the problems that we are currently facing and this goes up to a point where we end up losing our sense of efficacy and become mentally frozen and paralysed. We may be stunned by the situation and may not be able to react. It also hampers our capacity to think rationally and logically and can last for a longer period of time or may get resolved in a shorter span of time. 

Certain incidents that can overwhelm us include:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Physical or mental health issues
  • Demands on the job
  • Financial stress
  • Insecurity
  • Life events
  • Death of a loved one
  • Traumatic events

What are the symptoms which may lead a person to say ‘everything overwhelms me?’

  • Small problems suddenly start feeling huge:

Sometimes, we may be aware that a particular problem is not very huge or stressful in nature, but the anticipation of an approaching problem makes us worked up because even though the problem is small, it may start appearing huge just by the anticipation of it.

  • Physical and mental fatigue starts to set it:

The moment a problem approaches, we start feeling physical fatigue which can be manifested in the form of joint pains, difficulty in breathing, heaviness in the shoulders and head, heaviness in the feet, dizziness and digestive issues. 

We may also feel mental fatigue where our ability to focus on the task at hand diminishes significantly and it may lower our ability to process things.

  • We can’t concentrate:

Our ability to concentrate on the task at hand may reduce. We may often feel ‘spaced out’ that is; we may feel mentally detached from the things around us. We may not be able to focus even on the most obvious things when overwhelmed.

  • Irritation:

Even the smallest things irritate us, even if there is no apparent reason. We may also be aware of the irritation coming in, but we are too paralysed to react.  Irritation is a common symptom of being overwhelmed that is experienced by both children and adults.

  • The need to control increases:

Because feeling overwhelmed is accompanied by being frozen and not knowing how to react, we may be overcome with a sense of wanting to control our surroundings as much as possible.

Mental health issues that can make us overwhelmed:

  • Anxiety:

Anxiety may not always have a logical cause. We may get anxious about different things at different points in time and the anxiety often triggers the fight, flight or freeze response within us which can overwhelm us.

  • Depression:

When depressed, we often feel hopeless and a sense of future is lost. There can also be severe rumination about the past and it can lead to physical illnesses too. We can get overwhelmed, when these symptoms get severe.

  • Post traumatic stress disorder:

Symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, survivors guilt, flashbacks can leave us overwhelmed as it may feel as though we are living the situation all over again.

Complex PTSD involves unresolved and ongoing trauma that has not been resolved. Being in trauma on an everyday basis can overwhelm us. It can also trigger physical issues such as cold and flu and an upset stomach.

  • Adult ADHD:

Because we face issues with concentration, focus, attention and stable relationships, the constant instability causes exhaustion and overwhelm in adult ADHD.

Pure OCD leads the person to experience a constant flow of extreme thoughts such as that of mental torture. Because these obsessions are manifested mentally, the compulsions accompanying it also involve mental compulsions to calm oneself and can be extremely overwhelming. 

The effects of being overwhelmed:

When we constantly feel that ‘everything overwhelms me’, we are likely to have difficulty in taking care of ourselves. We are likely to skip meals, struggle to fall asleep due to the constant flow of thoughts. It is also highly likely that the overwhelm will be manifested in the form of physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue and weakening of the immune functioning. It can also affect the social life and intimate relationships.

What can I do when everything overwhelms me?

There are certain techniques we can use to reduce the overwhelm:

  • Move away from the stimuli:

In most cases there is a trigger that causes us to feel overwhelmed. One way to deal with this is to move away from the triggering stimuli wherever possible. Moving away from the stimuli is an easier option than turning the stimuli off as it may not always be in our control. 

Moving away from the stimuli would mean going to a calm place which does not have too much noise, too much stimulation to the mind. 

  • Take a mental break:

Once we start getting overwhelmed, there is a high chance that we may not realise how far we have gone in the process of thinking about it or feeling it. Doing this may not give us any clarity on how to deal with the situation but only deplete us of our resources. 

In order to avoid the depletion of resources and get back to problem solving approach to the problem, it may get necessary for us to take a mental break. 

It may mean taking a leave from the office if that is getting overwhelming, putting plans on hold, not running the errands for a day, not studying for a day and instead so something that we like such as engaging in hobbies, sleeping, relaxing, watching moving and generally engaging in self-care activities as we cannot run on an empty tank.

  • Set boundaries:

A lot of times we tend to feel overwhelmed because of the amount of time the triggering stimuli is near us and the lack of our ability to be assertive. However, by setting healthy personal boundaries, we can regain control on which things can overwhelm us and which cannot. This can give us a sense of authority over our own emotional reactions. 

Setting boundaries would mean ensuring our needs are met and not sacrificed at the cost of something else, ensuring that we  are not overdoing things, not taking inordinate responsibility of things, and dealing with people who constantly violate the boundaries.

  • Setting a down time:

Many times we tend to get overwhelmed because of the amount of information we receive from the news channels and social media. So having a downtime is necessary which essentially means deciding a time after which there will be no access to news, social networking sites or any other form of media. This can help us reduce the feeling of ‘everything overwhelms me’.

We are often made to believe that we will be liked and accepted by others only if we are perfect. This often leads to anxiety and depression which in turn increases a sense of overwhelm. By reminding ourselves that we need not always have everything together, we can significantly reduce the overwhelm as we are able to let go of a lot of stress.

  • Developing self awareness and mindfulness:

Being self aware means we are aware of not only our capacities and strengths, but also of her weaknesses and limitations. When we have clarity with respect to ourselves, dealing with issues becomes much easier.  This will also stop us from making unrealistic expectations and making commitments that are beyond our control.

Mindfulness also helps as it helps us stay in the present moment and develop a solution focused approach rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. 

When overwhelmed, talking to a therapist can be helpful too. It can help us understand the roots of the overwhelm, can help us explore options to self-soothe and coping skills, can help us address the main reasons for the overwhelm in a safe space and helps in dealing with mental health issues leading to overwhelm. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Everything Overwhelms Me

What to tell someone who is overwhelmed?

A number of positive affirmations can be used to help someone who may be overwhelmed, such as:

You’re not alone
How can I help?
Your feelings are valid.
You’ve done it before! You can do it again.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Do you want to talk about it?

What does it mean when you say everything overwhelms me?

When someone says ‘everything overwhelms me’ they are talking about the anxiety they experience which makes it difficult for them to focus. 

What is crippling anxiety disorder?

Crippling anxiety is a type of anxiety which includes symptoms such as Feelings of fear, panic, or a general unsettled feeling, feeling “on edge” ,Feeling irritable and even angry. The symptoms closely resemble the symptoms of overwhelm.

How do you know when you’re overwhelmed?

You know you are overwhelmed when you can’t stay focused on tasks, and you’re missing out on your favorite activities and also experience lowered concentration and increased apathy which might be a result of stress-related sleep issues or intrusive thoughts.

Is overwhelm positive or negative?

Overwhelm by an emotion can be due to both a positive as well as a negative emotion. One can get overwhelmed by gratitude and also by fear.


In today’s blog post, we focused on a common statement, ‘everything overwhelms me’. To begin with, we focused on defining what it is to be overwhelmed, which may lead anyone to say ‘everything overwhelms me’. We then emphasised on the symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, followed by looking into the mental health issues that can trigger overwhelm. We then  briefly discussed the effects of feeling this way. Lastly, we talked about a few tips that can help us reduce the intensity of the overwhelming emotions.

I hope this blog post was successful in providing insight into helping understand why people may feel that ‘everything overwhelms me’. Please feel free to drop in your comments and queries below.


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