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How To Tell When You Are Overwhelmed By Life? 17 Signs

You know that feeling when you’ve simply got too much going on that you begin to not doing anything? That’s a sign of being overwhelmed by life. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to all of us. Here are 17 signs that you’re being overwhelmed by life.

#1 Tension Headaches

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When the body is overwhelmed by stress it will innately tense your neck and shoulders. This tension in the muscles will eventually result in pain from the back of your neck to your forehead. 

Contributors: Anita Wilson from Alias In Town

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#2 You isolate yourself

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When life gets to be just a bit too much and you want to pull the sheets over your head and stay in bed all the time. Some people cope with life when it becomes too tough by isolating themselves from everyone. They don’t want to be involved. Overwhelmed people may withdraw from their support system and extra activities. 

Contributors: Angel M. Hoodye from Flourishing Hope Counseling

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#3 Feeling angry, irritated, annoyed or frustrated

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People typically find themselves having a short fuse, a lower threshold for stress, and find themselves in outbursts about things/situations that typically would not cause them to lose their patience. Some individuals find themselves externalizing their feeling of being overwhelmed by projecting their emotions out.

Contributors: Justyna Wawrzonek from West Hartford Holistic Counseling 

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#4 Negative Self Talk

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Others may internalize their feeling of being overwhelmed by being overly self-critical, self-judgmental and have an increased negative self talk. Individuals may feel anxious, depressed, withdrawn or even hopeless. They may not be able to complete usual tasks, have a decreased energy and lose pleasure in usual life activities.

Contributors: Justyna Wawrzonek from West Hartford Holistic Counseling 

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#5 You Act Like a Jerk

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You’re acting like a real jerk. Life overwhelm can express itself by making you irritable, angry and prone to lashing out in all directions. Your behavior may include yelling, screaming, cutting off people in traffic. You may indulge in complaining and criticizing, starting fights for no reason, and very loud and very public temper tantrums – even though you should have outgrown them decades ago. You may also start bullying or intimidating people, muttering snide comments under your breath, bad-mouth, gossip or even plot revenge against others. Yes, when your life circuits are on overload, you may not be a very nice person to be around. 

Contributors: Ryn Gargulinski from Rynski Recovery Club

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#6 You’re eating more or less than you normally do

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In cases of overwhelm, our bodies seek comfort. Many of us find comfort in food. We then may eat more food than we normally do, including eating when we are not hungry. We may also eat much less than we normally do, not becoming hungry at all. By paying attention to the food we eat, we can tune into an underlying issue.

Contributors: Jenny Dempsey from Jenny Dempsey Wellness

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#7 Odd sleep patterns

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Odd sleeping patterns also manifests in either too much sleep, or not enough. It may creep up on you, as you push yourself harder and harder, lack of sleep becoming the norm, until you are unable to sleep in a normal pattern. Your brain will eventually tell your body one of two things: the anxiety of having too much to do will keep you up, or your brain will shut your body down. This kind of 'shut down mode' means that no matter how much you sleep you will be exhausted, as your brain forces you to avoid the reality you have created. 

Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#8 Trouble saying ‘no’

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People that practice saying no know their boundaries and are able to perform tasks that they say yes to more efficiently and wholeheartedly. As you feel overwhelmed, you may find it hard to say no and recognize your boundaries. Self care becomes almost impossible because you may feel that you are losing yourself and prioritizing others. This sounds selfless, but ultimately will backfire, leaving you spread too thinly and unable to complete tasks. 

Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#9 Confused Appearance

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When people are overwhelmed by life, they appear confused and overwhelmed because they are trying to juggle too many balls at once. They may become forgetful and miss appointments, get their days and times mixed up, appear flustered, difficulty concentrating, the quality of their work may decrease, they are always in a rush and hurrying people, they are always feeling stressed out or anxious, their appetite may change and they could skip meals because they don't have the time or start eating quick meals like fast food, they don't take time for themselves and compromise their immune system in the process which makes them sick or rundown. 

Contributors: Prakash Masand from Centers of Psychiatric Excellence

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#10 Feeling Under the Weather

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I know that I am overwhelmed with life when I start catching constant colds and flus. If I'm going through a particularly stressful period such as finals season, my colds can last up to a month. 

Contributors: Maya Eaddy from Hennessy and Happiness

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#11 Easily agitated

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It’s natural to sometimes get upset about the ups and downs of life.. When you become overwhelmed with life you become easily agitated. Things that typically wouldn’t bother you are not sending you over the edge. 

Contributors: Angel M. Hoodye from Flourishing Hope Counseling

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#12 Increase in mistakes

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People that are overwhelmed by life make more mistakes. They don’t always have the ability to laser focus due to so much coming at them at one time. They become rushed and disorganized which leads to an increase in mistakes and carelessness. 

Contributors: Angel M. Hoodye from Flourishing Hope Counseling 

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#13 Stay In Bed

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 You wish you could just check out and stay in bed. People who are very overwhelmed may feel like there giving up and not trying. 

Contributors: Helen Odessky from Dr. Helen Odessky and Associates 

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#14 Put things off

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You have been putting off tasks large and small because you feel like there is just too much coming at you. 

Contributors: Helen Odessky from Dr. Helen Odessky and Associates 

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#15 Avoidance or tuning out

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When I see people decrease in their responsiveness to text, email, phone calls, etc to me that is a sign of overwhelm. In the short term, avoidance helps us to pretend something isn't there but again it ends up spiraling the overwhelm further in the long run.

Contributors: Kelsey M. Latimer from Center for Discovery

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#16 Emotional shifts

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Overwhelmed means there is high-intensity stress. This decreases our logical capabilities and increases our emotional outputs. As a result, there is an imbalance and people become more emotional or change in the type of emotion they typically show - that may mean become more irritable or more withdrawn just depending on the person.

Contributors: Kelsey M. Latimer from Center for Discovery

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#17 Lack of Focus and Motivation

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You stop doing things you enjoy. You begin to lose motivation. You find it hard to stay focused. Or you may scale your satisfaction level 1-10 and find yourself consistently in the lower third. You may begin to withdraw from others and neglect yourself. It is common to misinterpret business as a healthy activity only to realize it is fueling your burnout. 

Contributors:Shannon Battle from Family Services of America

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