Overload - when everything just becomes too much for you

Reading time 8 minutes
Overload - when everything just becomes too much for you

Sometimes your head seems to burst at any moment and you don't know what to do first. You just can't seem to settle down, and that puts a strain not only on your mind, but also on your body. Even if you don't want to admit it to yourself, at a certain point you are simply overwhelmed. 

We all feel this way from time to time, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is to admit that you are overwhelmed and to intervene in time. We'll show you how to do that in the following!

What is excessive demand?

To put it succinctly, you reach the point of overload when your resources are simply no longer sufficient to deliver the performance that the situation requires. In these moments, you are under enormous stress. But stress itself doesn't necessarily harm you. Believe it or not: it is not always negative, but sometimes even positive!

US psychologists John D. Dodson and Robert M. Yerkes came to this conclusion in 1908. According to their research, our performance depends on how activated we feel. In plain language, this means that stress makes us more efficient up to a certain point and increases our performance. Productivity. We get into a real work flow and check off our To Do's concentrated step by step.

However, once a certain threshold is exceeded, the whole thing turns into the opposite and we are overwhelmed. We simply no longer feel up to our tasks and it seems as if our hands are suddenly tied.

overload symptoms

How widespread are overwork and stress?

Stress and the associated excessive demands have become a true mass phenomenon. More than one in two Germans say they clearly find their own lives stressful. Every fourth person even believes that they can no longer withstand this pressure for long.

It goes without saying that this is not healthy. According to their own statements, one in eight even shows up sick at work in order to meet the expectations of superiors and colleagues. This always-ready-for-anything attitude is quickly becoming the new standard. And expectations from the outside are only increasing.

What does overwhelm feel like?

You're tired, you can hardly motivate yourself to tackle your tasks and you're just frustrated. Exhaustion is your daily companion and strangely enough you even get sick more often than before. You just don't know how to get out of this low you are currently trapped in and sink into helplessness. That's exactly how overwhelm feels.

How does excessive demand show up in everyday life?

If excessive demands have crept into your everyday life and have gotten out of hand, it often shows early in the morning. You wake up and stay in bed as long as you can. This is not only due to the fact that you are incredibly tired and exhausted because of all the psychological stress: you simply lack the Motivation. Who likes to start into a day where nothing will succeed again anyway?

But with this negative attitude, nothing can come of it. You know that yourself. The attitude that you adopt has a very important effect on your charisma - the law of attraction. You attract more and more things into your life that have a negative effect on you. Because you give too much attention and belief to your thoughts.

How does excessive demand show up on the job?

At work, excessive demands are often reflected in the fact that you need significantly more time to complete your tasks. Overtime is then inevitable. You may even make mistakes, even though you are trying harder than ever.

When you are assigned new tasks, your heart beats like crazy. "How am I supposed to cope with them?" runs through your head. You can't see the forest for the trees. You have FearYou don't want to face challenges because you no longer believe in yourself and your abilities. You may think that all your efforts are in vain. You may even fear that you could lose your job because of it.

Burnout and Burnon Syndrome: What's the difference?

If excessive demands and stress dominate your life, it is only a matter of time before you collapse mentally and perhaps even physically. The Burnout knocks on the door. But did you know that there is also a burnon? This is a fairly recent discovery of science, which was talked about publicly for the first time in 2021. It refers to a preliminary stage of burnout. Before it comes to the absolute state of exhaustion, an alarm signal is set up first.

If you suffer from Burnon, you are permanently stressed and are under power from morning to night. You are almost hyperactive in your everyday life, but at the same time you have the feeling of being completely paralyzed. Nevertheless, you don't notice that you are heading unerringly for burnout and you keep going full throttle. You are well aware that stress is anything but healthy. But you push these thoughts aside and work more and more instead of shifting down a gear. You just can't pull the ripcord.

What can be the causes of excessive demands?

Excessive demands can arise equally in the job and in private life. But the main trigger is the same: enormous stress. You want to be the perfect employee, the perfect partner, the perfect mother, the perfect father - the main thing is to be perfect. This puts you under enormous pressure, because you have utopian demands on yourself.

You think you just have to get everything done, pile on task after task, and eventually lose control with all this mass. But there can also be other, very specific triggers for overload, including:

  • Quarrels in the partnership or the family
  • Loss of a close confidant
  • financial difficulties
  • insecure job

8 tips to get a grip on overwhelm

As almost everywhere in life, the first important step towards improvement is acceptance: accept what is and what shows up in you. Pay particular attention to your Body symptomsthat may appear. Probably for some time you have had the feeling that your head is splitting, you are sleeping badly or your neck hurts. 

Even if you think you're showing weakness - in truth, it's the other way around. It takes a great deal of strength to recognize your own limits. accept. Standing up for yourself more. That is Self-love! Once you've done that, you can turn your overwhelm into joie de vivre with these eight tips!

1. reflect on the here and now

If you have an unbelievable number of tasks to do, it's not so easy to keep thinking about all the to-dos that still need to be done. But these thoughts only put you under more pressure. The stress overwhelms you and overwhelm spreads. It slows you down and you are already short of time.

What happens? The pressure increases because time is dwindling. So try to stay in the here and now with your thoughts and focus on your current task.

If you notice that you are drifting off, then the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise can help you. In this exercise, you stop for a moment, look around and consciously perceive 5 things visually. Then close your eyes and concentrate on 4 sounds that you can perceive. Continue with 3 things you can feel right now, 2 tastes that are still hiding in your mouth from your last meal, and last but not least, a specific smell that permeates the room.

2. change your point of view

If you are overwhelmed, you have the feeling that you will never overcome all the hurdles that stand in front of you. But why do hurdles always have to mean something negative? Instead, see them as an opportunity to rise above yourself and gain new, positive experiences. Imagine the moment when you have mastered the challenge and the feeling of pride that spreads through you. Your attitude will shift into something positive and your motivation will return.

3. prioritize your tasks

Sure, you would like to do everything at once. But that is not goal-oriented. You start countless tasks but don't finish any of them because you are overwhelmed. This only frustrates you even more.

Put your To Do's in a meaningful order, measured by their importance and urgency. You may have heard of the Eisenhower Principle: it describes exactly this approach. The list you create gives you an orientation. You can follow it. This gives you a certain degree of security.

And sometimes the world doesn't end when you put off a task until tomorrow! 

4. give yourself breaks

Yes, it's hard to stop working when you still have countless To Do's to check off. But you're only fueling your overload if you don't allow yourself any breathers. How else are you supposed to replenish your energy stores? And without energy there is no performance.

So take a little walk, sit out in the fresh air for a few minutes, or treat yourself to a power nap. You deserve it! And your performance will thank you for it, too.

5. create a balance

As much as you'd like to just lie on the couch after work, motivate yourself to get active again. What you need is a balance where you can switch off. That can be time with friends, SportsIt could be going for a walk or simply reading a good book. Basically, it doesn't matter what it is - the main thing is that it makes you happy and helps you to put your worries aside for once.

6. question for advice

No hero has ever fallen from the sky! Life is a never ending Learning process and therefore it is perfectly legitimate if you cannot immediately master every challenge on your own. Don't overburden yourself by trying to acquire expert knowledge on your own. Ask for advice, it doesn't hurt and certainly doesn't put you in a bad light.

7. dare to speak out about your excessive demands

This step is anything but easy! But sometimes it brings you a lot of ease: Talk to your boss and explain to him/her the situation you are currently in. He/she will not want to drive a great employee like you into a burnout. So sit down and work out a solution together. Maybe there is a colleague who is less busy and can support you with your tasks.

8. reflect on your current situation

Sometimes it's not the amount of tasks at all that is responsible for your overwhelm. Have you ever thought about the fact that it's your job itself that's making you feel overwhelmed? unhappy why everything feels so terribly stressful? If that's the case, then of course it doesn't do you much good to put everything into being able to handle a higher workload.

Maybe it makes more sense for you to reorient yourself professionally. A great job makes you happy. And if you're happy, you're much more productive. That way you kill two birds with one stone.

And to turn the overload step by step into Joie de vivre you are welcome to ask yourself every day, "What can I do to make myself happy today?" Steer your thoughts in the positive direction much more often. That's how you align yourself positively inside!

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