Jun 23, 2022

7 reasons why we feel overwhelmed

Many ailments manifest because of imbalances in our bodies. One of the important reasons for such imbalances is the impact of our thoughts on our nervous and circulatory systems.

Given the busy lifestyles we lead, there is always a sense of overwhelm, that keeps our sympathetic nervous system on active mode for most of the day.

Many of us start our mornings with a 10-min meditation or Pranayama practice, but as the demands of the day take over, the relaxation we experienced in the morning vanishes, and our todo lists and appointments keep us on our toes, leaving behind a sense of overwhelm at the end of the day.

Why do we feel overwhelmed? What causes this feeling? Only when we understand this deeper, we will be able to figure out sustainable ways to come out of it. Here are 7 reasons behind it. There could be more as well.

(1) When we blindly accept success metrics defined by the society and work towards the same

What are those metrics - a few examples below

If you are an employee - pay range, designation/title, material goals, status, lifestyle.

If you are running a software business - valuation, DAUs, WAUs, MAUs, Subscriptions

If you are looking to stay fit - weight, BMI, number of steps, calorie intake, macros

If you are a social media influencer - number of followers/subscribers, likes, comments

Let's question the metrics we value. Does this make sense? How do I validate the same? Am I chasing after this metric, just because someone said so?

(2) When we compare what we don't have with others who have (without realizing that we are comparing apples to oranges)

I read this brilliant insight somewhere - if you are jealous about someone, say ABC because of a single trait and feel, "I wish I had what ABC has", then would you be willing to exchange your life with ABC's life completely? We are not fully aware of what ABC's life is - we only see bits and pieces through social media, hearsay, or our interactions.

(3) When we take up too many responsibilities and put pressure on ourselves 

We don't recognize our limits and end up pushing ourselves to a point of burnout.

When life circumstances change suddenly, we do not want to change our routines and adapt by either taking a break, pausing, or slowing down.

We end up trying to be in 2 places at once, as we don't know which one to prioritize and which one to let go of. 

For eg, I had signed up for the 21-day Satvic Yoga challenge which happens every morning between 6:30-7:45 AM. I also need to get my daughter's tiffin boxes ready. Initially, I had thought that I'd quickly finish cooking and attend the class on time. But I realized that I was putting undue pressure on myself. Since the recordings are made available, I now slowly finish cooking, pack her boxes, get her ready and then start my Yoga practice at 8 AM in a calm state of mind.

(4) When we set an expectation to complete something in a fixed time 

The word "deadline" by itself sounds so scary, isn't it? Either these timelines are set by ourselves or by someone else. Timelines help us to make progress with a goal, but are these realistic? If someone else sets them, are we confidently asserting that these are unrealistic and we need more time? 

(5) When we become so rigid with our values

Values provide a guiding light for our decisions. But when we become too rigid, the same values can hurt us as well. For eg, I usually finish my dinner before 7 PM. Last night, it got delayed and I ended up eating my dinner at 8 PM. I had prepared phulkas, capsicum paneer gravy, and rajma masala. Heavy items, but just because my dinner time got delayed, am I going to skip my meal? I was hungry, and I ate 3 phulkas with the sides. No regrets, no worry over whether the food will get digested or not.

(6) When we want to be in control of other's behaviors

The fact to remember is that we cannot control anyone's behaviors, except ours. If we try to do so, it only causes more stress and disappointments.

I'm sure many parents would be able to understand this feeling in the morning rush hours. If the child takes up more time to get ready OR if he/she hasn't packed the books to be carried to school, we start getting tensed, sometimes yelling at the child too and thinking to ourselves, "I wish he/she is more organized", "I wish he/she becomes more responsible" etc.

(7) When we try to control situations beyond our control

My main reason for getting overwhelmed is this - trying to control and stay on top of all situations. Again, impossible, but hard to accept.

For eg, when D's school started this academic year, her school bus was coming very late. I was getting irritated because of this delay. I was checking my phone constantly to see the current bus location. This continued for 2-3 days, after which I mellowed down and started to accept that this delay isn't under my control - huge traffic, roads dug up for various reasons, inefficient bus routes, etc.

Which of these reasons resonate with you the most?

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