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Overwhelmed at Work? These Steps Can Help You Cope

Nothing is quite as debilitating as waking up already dreading what your workday holds in store. When you feel overwhelmed before your feet hit the floor, it’s hard to escape that cloud of doom. But you can escape that mental trap.   

These steps can help you recognize the source of your anxiety and then get your day back on track in a stress-reducing way.  

Step 1: Recognize What Sets You Off  

Feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities often has nothing to do with your ability to handle them. Rather, it comes from triggers – specific tasks, events, or even thoughts that send you on a downward spiral. And learning what these triggers are for you can help you avoid getting triggered in the first place.  

Start by writing down everything you have to do. Then, identify projects you’ve been putting off each week. What makes these items so stressful to you? Knowing why certain tasks make you cringe with anxiety can help you stop procrastinating and get them in your rearview mirror.  

Step 2: Set Boundaries  

Once you get rid of tasks that are stressing you out, you should be in a better place to keep your remaining work from becoming a new source of panic. Moving forward, set boundaries on your time and workload. Hold yourself to designated start and end times to avoid blending your workday into your personal time. And learn to say no to projects that will exceed your capacity.     

Step 3: Do a Reality Check  

Are you dogged by the idea that if you don’t handle every aspect of a project, it will fail? Do you worry that if you don’t answer every email immediately, you’ll sabotage your team’s efforts?  

Take a moment to fact check these beliefs. Then permit yourself to reorganize so that every incoming message doesn’t feel like a four-alarm fire.  

Step 4: Identify and Handle That One Big Thing  

Once you’ve convinced yourself that every task is not make-or-break, you’re in a better position to objectively prioritize your to-do list. Find one high-priority item and take it from start to finish. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment, but you’ll also build momentum for the next task.  

Step 5: Move Past Perfectionism   

The French philosopher Voltaire once said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” One of the most common panic triggers is always striving for perfection. Fight this instinct. Learn to recognize when a task is complete and set it aside. This doesn’t mean doing substandard work; rather, it’s allowing yourself the satisfaction of getting the job done – and not hammering away trying to make it “perfect.”  

Step 6: Know When to Call for the Cavalry  

Remember that advice about getting away from the idea you have to do everything? One way to accomplish this is to look at your workload, then make a list of things you don’t need to do. Delegate these items when possible; eliminate them if you find they really aren’t essential to begin with.   

Step 7: Practice Self-Care   

“Self-care” is a trendy concept, but as Meredith Ethington points out, it’s critical to remember making sure your basic needs (like nutrition, sleep, hydration) are met is not self-care – it’s self-preservation. Take time to intentionally do things that make you happy and feed your soul.   

What to Do When Your Job Itself (Or the Lack of One) Is the Problem  

It may well be that your feelings of being overwhelmed are inextricably tied to your current job situation. If you need help in finding a professional change of scenery, browse Mega Force’s online job search portal. We work with top employers in Fayetteville and throughout North Carolina, and we’d love to help you.  


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