How to deal with being overwhelmed all the time: “why do I keep breaking down over the little things?”
Mental Health

How to deal with being overwhelmed all the time: “why do I keep breaking down over the little things?”

If even everyday life is starting to feel a “bit much” at the moment, you’re not alone. A therapist breaks down 6 reasons why you might find yourself breaking down over the small things. 

To say that life for many of us at the moment feels overwhelming may be a bit of an understatement.

At the beginning of the month, the World Health Organisation reported that the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, with young people and women the worst hit.

Add to that the rising global tensions and a cost of living crisis that is going to hit the under 30’s the hardest and a pretty bleak picture starts to emerge.

So it’s understandable that even the smallest, most insignificant details of our everyday lives can prove a bit too much to handle on some days, whether we consider ourselves highly sensitive people or not.

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If you’ve recently found yourself stressing out over not knowing what to wear, screaming at traffic or literally crying over spilt milk, you’re not alone.

In an informative and comforting Instagram post, therapist and mental health content creator Amber Elizabeth Smith identified six possible reasons why things could be feeling a “bit much” right now – and they’re all extremely relatable.

“You are experiencing burnout”

Exhaustion, slumped moods, hardly any time for ourselves: it seems like a fact of modern life that we’ll all deal with burnout at some point, particularly in relation to our work.

However, as Smith notes, burnout also leaves you with less capacity to cope with things that would normally not be an issue. So if not having enough milk or leaving your charger at home is bringing you to the brink of breakdown, it may be worth reducing what’s on your plate and prioritising rest and recuperation for a while.

“You bottle up and restrict your emotions”

When so much is going on in the world, it’s perfectly understandable that many of us feel like the minutiae of our daily lives are hardly something to be complaining about, even if they are causing us anxiety or stress. But restricting your emotions comes with its own drawbacks, too.

“If you only allow yourself to feel ‘happy and OK’ all of the time, you may be ignoring your true feelings,” writes Smith. However, your brain and body both subconsciously know that’s not the case, so continuing on autopilot instead of truly checking in with yourself is likely causing more harm than good.

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“You are harbouring resentment towards someone or something”

In a previous post, Smith explained the concept of “ruminating thoughts”: aka what happens when we have a desire to solve a problem that is plaguing us.

“We believe that by replaying a situation, we may come up with a new solution and find relief,” she explained.

However, by storing all of these anxieties and negative feelings, we’re continuing to allow the past to dictate the future and making us impatient and agitated in the present.

Rumination is a completely common human experience, but we still need to watch out for the signs and take action when we feel ourselves slipping into the mindset.

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“Your lifestyle and nutrition are imbalanced”

It may have been said a thousand times, but it’s always worth saying again: self-care isn’t just about nature walks, hot showers and a soothing cup of herbal tea, as lovely as those things are. The core components of our physical and mental wellbeing – sleep, water, nutrients and exercise – need to be accounted for, too.

Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety and skipping meals causes a drop in the body’s blood sugar levels, increasing irritability.

Hormones

No, mood swings aren’t just for teenagers and yes, an imbalance in hormones or their natural fluctuation may produce symptoms of being “on edge”, says Smith.

Hormones have a powerful effect on women’s brain chemistry, mental health and mood, leading to brain fog, difficulty concentrating and anxiety as well.

“You have trauma from a past experience that is being activated”

It is true that the past stays with us, and difficult global events can very easily lead us to relive other times in our lives that we felt under threat or in danger without us even realising that our brains and bodies are re-experiencing the trauma.

“This is typically tricky as you may not realise that certain sounds, words, smells, people and places have an effect on you,” explains Smith.

However, she stresses that only a mental health professional can give a formal diagnosis of any underlying disorder, such as PTSD, that could be impacted by trauma.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters or access the NHS’ list of mental health helplines and services.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can also ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. In a crisis, call 999. 

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Images: Getty