Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
5 Ways To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed At Work
Published Aug 25th, 2020 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
You’re so overwhelmed with work that you can’t even think straight. There are so many things on your to-do list that it’s become a to-do scroll. Unfortunately, it’s the kind that unfolds all the way around the block. And it’s really f**king stressful. So, you’re here and wondering what things you can do to stop feeling overwhelmed at work.
Here’s how you can use your journaling practice (or start a journaling practice) to help you when you’re overwhelmed at work for what seems like the 840th day in a row:
1. What tasks do I need to do? What tasks can I delegate to others?
A lot of times we think we have to do everything ourselves. It’s part of the reason we get so overwhelmed. This is especially true for perfectionists. Perfectionists worry that if they don’t do the task themselves, it will be done wrong or not up to standard.
Remember: not everything has to be done perfectly to be done.
Go through your to-do list (or to-do scroll) and make a secondary list of things that you absolutely, positively, have to do yourself. Then, take the rest of the items on the list and see if you can delegate them to other co-workers.
Of course, make sure they’re willing to accept them before just handing them off. Pawning stuff off without asking is how these cycles of overwhelm start happening in the first place. If they’re willing to take the task, great. If not, simply push it back to make room for the tasks that have top priority.
2. What drew you to your job in the first place?
When you’re in a super busy season of work and everything is piling up, it’s hard to remember there are actually good things about your job too. Take a minute to go back and think about why, out of all the jobs out there, you chose this one? There must have been a reason.
What makes you happy to work here, what are you passionate about, and what, at the end of the day, gives you fulfillment? Refocusing on why you’re there will help you get through the rough times and come out the other side stronger and more certain of your job.
3. How can you separate your work life and your personal life?
A lot of problems with overwhelm stem from the inability to separate work and personal life. Before you know it, it’s 9:00pm and you’re still at the office and you’ve missed family dinner for the third time this week. Shit.
Yes, work is important, but it is not everything.
How can you create boundaries between your work life and your personal life? And how can you stick to them when you start pushing these boundaries again?
Envision the rewards for creating and sticking to your boundaries. You’ll get to see your daughter’s hockey game for the first time in a month. You’ll get to go on a walk with your partner. Your son will come up to you shyly and ask if you want to watch Paw Patrol with him.
Your work days will become easier because you’ll always have something to look forward to when you get home.
4. Do your co-workers know you’re overwhelmed?
We often think that we have to deal with everything on our own. We think that no one can know we’re struggling to meet deadlines or keep up with emails.
It’s actually the complete opposite.
Telling your co-workers you’re overwhelmed will let them know that they may be putting too much on your plate. It will also give them a chance to step in and lend a helping hand.
If they do know you’re overwhelmed, how has that impacted your work life and relationships with your co-workers? And if they don’t know you’re overwhelmed, why haven’t you told them?
If you think they will be angry or judgemental, that might be exposing another issue that needs to be dealt with. Co-workers should be there to support you, not reprimand you for being unable to keep up with insurmountable tasks.
5. What do you need in this moment?
This could be anything from a cry to a career change. Don’t hold anything back. Write honestly about how you’re feeling and don’t be afraid to explore thoughts you’ve pushed aside in the past.
Do you need to scream, cry, or eat a bowl of ice cream? Do you need to talk to your friend, your therapist, or your boss? Or do you need to change your job or change your career?
Here’s the bottom line: your work is a significant aspect of your life, but it can’t get to the point where it’s negatively affecting every aspect of your life. If you’ve reached that point already, it might be time to do some thinking.
For even more prompts on workplace stress, check out our DiveThru app. We have an entire section dedicated to working life, including a dive that’s literally titled, “overwhelmed with work?”.
Sounds like a perfect match if you ask us.
On top of that, there are also dives titled, “stressful workday” and “tackle your to-do list”. Plus, it’s free to download, so rest assured that won’t be adding any stress to your life.
You have to go to work every day, but you shouldn’t have to be overwhelmed every day. When working through these journaling prompts, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself and to listen to yourself. You deserve to be happy with the work you’re doing and with the person who’s doing it, too.