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What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed at Work

overwhelmed at work

This time of year, many professionals are overwhelmed with work and life obligations.

The holidays, end-of-year wrap-up, and new year preparations all compound to create a perfect storm of stress and anxiety. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone—and you have options. There are things you can do to help minimize the pain of the season, both personally and professionally. Try these strategies for starters.

  • Say “No” To the Unnecessary

Managing time effectively requires first understanding your priorities. Get clear on what must get done versus what would be nice to get done. If something is not truly necessary, consider postponing it or simply discarding it altogether. Make sure you’re not taking on more than you can reasonably handle.

If you’ve already accepted too many holiday party invitations, or too many big projects at work, it’s time to renegotiate. Do what you can to revise expectations, and be honest about what you can do.

Also read: How To Say No At Work (And Still Maintain Positive Relationships)

  • Rely on Your Routines

It’s easy to fall out of your regular routines during this busy time of year, but you need them now more than ever. Sacrificing them in an effort to save time will usually backfire.

Small daily routines can be comforting; they help maintain a sense of normalcy and keep the everyday business of life and work moving forward. Without them, chaos can quickly erupt. Even something as simple as making your bed in the morning can help keep you grounded.

At work, stick with the productivity routines that have served you well in the past—things like making to-do lists, scheduling uninterrupted work time, and other strategies that have worked for you.

  • Leverage Your Support Systems

Feeling overwhelmed often leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation. You can’t imagine that anyone else understands what you’re dealing with. But people do! And your support network is there to help you if you’re willing to let them. Call upon friends and family members to help out. Delegate responsibilities to your team. Ask a co-worker to take something off your plate.

You don’t have to manage everything single-handedly.

  • Take Care of Yourself

It’s not selfish to step back and take time for yourself. In fact, you’re no good to others if you don’t first care for your own needs. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks throughout the day, eating right and maintaining a regular exercise routine (even if it’s just a 15-minute walk with your dog in the evening). These things all contribute to your mental health, which keeps you capable of handling the enormous weight on your shoulders.

Finally, just recognize that this is a unique time of year when things tend to pile on. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your sense of perspective can get skewed. This isn’t permanent. Things will slow down and then they’ll ramp up again; that’s the nature of life and work.

Also read: The Mindful Minute: 6 Steps to Clear Your Mental Palette

Focus on everything you have to be grateful for and try to enjoy the season. It’s a special time of year—even if it comes with a few additional headaches.

About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.