What Does Overwhelmed Mean?

Emotional overwhelm occurs when we are faced with situations that make us feel out of control.

We might feel like we’re losing our mind, or that everything around us is spinning out of control.

What Does Overwhelmed Mean?

This overwhelming sensation can cause us to lose our cool, lash out, or shut down emotionally.

When we experience emotional overwhelm, it feels like there’s nothing left inside of us. It can feel like we’ve lost ourselves.

And because emotions are such powerful things, it can be hard to recognize what’s happening when we start to feel overwhelmed.

In fact, many of us don’t know how to deal with feeling emotionally overwhelmed, especially when it happens in relationships or at work.

However, talking about it can help. How can we identify when we feel overwhelmed?

Symptoms And Signs 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are ways to recognize the symptoms and take action. Here are five common ones, along with tips to help you cope.

Irrational Thoughts

People often think about their problems in irrational ways. For example, you might believe that because you have trouble paying bills, you’ll never pay off debt.

Or you might worry that you won’t ever earn enough money to afford a vacation. This type of thinking can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

If you start to feel like this, try focusing on positive things, such as how much you enjoy spending time with friends and family.


Sometimes people become stuck in a cycle of negative thought patterns. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, you may start to feel anxious, angry, sad, guilty, or frustrated.

In turn, these emotions can trigger even more negative thoughts. And the cycle continues.

To break free of this pattern, focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t. Then, use those desires to motivate you to move forward.

Even Simple Tasks Can Feel Impossible

What Does Overwhelmed Mean?

When you feel overwhelmed, you may find yourself avoiding certain activities. Maybe you decide not to exercise or go out with friends.

Or maybe you just procrastinate, putting off work that needs to be done. Whatever the case may be, doing nothing doesn’t solve anything.

Instead, focus on completing one small task at a time. As you complete each step, you’ll build momentum toward accomplishing larger goals.

Losing Control

Feeling overwhelmed can make you feel like you’ve lost control over your life. That’s why it’s important to remember that you still have some say in how things play out.

Take charge by setting boundaries. Say no to requests that aren’t going to benefit you. And keep an open mind when considering new opportunities.

Avoiding People

You may avoid social situations because they remind you of all the things you wish you could change.

But being around other people is a good thing but make sure they are people that understand your feelings and won’t expect too much from you. 

You can also think about what makes you happy and write down ideas for making changes. Then, share your plans with others so they can offer feedback.


What Does Overwhelmed Mean?

A good start to dealing with overwhelmed feelings is to try and identify why you feel that way.

It may be a precipitating stressor, unexpected events, or poor mental health. Here are some reasons why you may feel overwhelmed.

1. Lack Of Coping Skills

You may feel overwhelmed because you don’t know how to cope with stressful situations. For example, you might try to avoid dealing with problems because it feels too overwhelming.

Or you may feel overwhelmed when you’re faced with big decisions. Coping skills help you manage difficult emotions like anxiety or anger.

They teach you how to deal with challenges without feeling overwhelmed.

2. Too Much Information

A common problem in the modern world is information overload.

When you receive too many messages, emails, texts, phone calls, or social media posts, you may feel overwhelmed. 

3. Unmet Expectations

If you’re disappointed with yourself or others, you may feel overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy.

It’s common to feel overwhelmed when you expect too much of yourself or others.

4. Poor Self-Care

If you neglect your physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or social well-being, you may feel overwhelmed as a result.

For example, you may feel overwhelmed when:

• You skip meals or sleep.

• You fail to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, or socially.

5. Feeling Stuck

Sometimes you feel overwhelmed because you’re unable to move forward.

For example, you feel overwhelmed when you’re facing a major decision or problem.

What is the answer to getting through these feelings?

Seeking Help 

We often don’t want to burden anyone else, especially those closest to us. But sometimes the best way to deal with overwhelming feelings is to talk about them.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, talking about it with someone you trust can make a big difference in your ability to cope.

Professional therapy can also help you develop the self-awareness needed to identify what triggers your anxiety and how you cope with it.

A therapist can also teach you strategies to reduce your anxiety over time.

The good news is that therapy doesn’t have to be expensive. Many psychologists work out of offices where they offer free sessions to patients.

And you don’t have to go to a clinic or hospital either. Many therapists conduct their practice online, allowing people across the globe to access care remotely.

In fact, several mental health organizations now provide remote access to psychotherapy via telephone, video chat, text messaging, and email.

Practice Mindfulness 

Mindfulness exercises are designed to bring awareness into our lives. They can help us cope with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and many other challenges we face. 

There is lots of information online about how to incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives. 


Overwhelming feelings are normal from time to time.  However, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed all the time, it’s important to seek professional help.

Therapy can help you learn coping skills so you can better handle challenging situations.


If you enjoyed this article, you might like our post ‘What Is Social Health?‘.

Ben Easter
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