What to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

Feeling overwhelmed at work isn’t uncommon. It can be caused by several factors, including too much work, stress, or even just feeling like you’re not up to the task. Whatever the cause, it’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and take steps to address it. 

The good news is you can break the cycle and create a work-life balance that doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed every day. Learn how, here. Following are some tips for managing your feelings of overwhelm.

Why Do I Feel Overwhelmed by Work?

Feeling overwhelmed at work can be caused by a variety of things. Having too much to do in too little time, unrealistic expectations from bosses or colleagues, lack of support and resources, or feeling like you don’t have the skills or knowledge needed to complete tasks can all be culprits.

Too much work in too little time

When there are more tasks to do than hours in the day, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed. This often happens when deadlines are tight, or workloads increase unexpectedly. Trying to fit everything into an already-full day can leave you feeling stressed and unable to focus on any task properly. For some, it could lead to longer hours to finish their tasks, which can lead to higher stress levels and job burnout.

Unrealistic expectations

Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed because our boss has set us up with goals that seem impossible or unreasonable given the amount of available time because of some misguided notion of hustle culture. Or our colleagues expect us to take on extra responsibilities without providing additional resources such as training or support staff. Feeling like you’re constantly running against an ever-moving goalpost can be exhausting and quickly become demoralizing.

Lack of support and resources

It’s difficult enough to juggle multiple projects, but it’s even more complicated when you don’t have access to the tools, resources, and information needed for success. This can mean having outdated technology, inadequate training materials, or poor budgeting for supplies. Without these things, it becomes almost impossible to achieve your goals, leading to job burnout instead of productivity.

Not having the skills needed to complete tasks

Having the necessary skill set is critical if you want to get ahead at work, but sometimes even that’s not enough. If you possess all the qualifications required but are struggling due inexperience, unfamiliarity with new technologies, or simply because you haven’t had enough practice yet, you may quickly start feeling overwhelmed. In this case, seeking guidance from someone more experienced could alleviate workplace stress and give you valuable insight.

Feeling overwhelmed at work can signify stress and burnout, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. With the right strategies and support, you can learn how to prevent burnout and take control of your workload to create a healthier balance in your life. Let’s look at some tips for feeling less overwhelmed at work.

Your mental condition affects how you work

Having social anxiety at work or ADHD at work can affect your performance. However, there are ways to cope with triggering situations. This involves communicating with your manager about what kind of work environment is ideal for you.

8 Tips for Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

Feeling overwhelmed at work can be caused by a number of factors, including too much work, stress, or feeling like you’re not up to the task. Whatever the cause, it’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and take steps to address it. 

“Select a few things to accomplish at work each day. Prioritize tasks in order of importance. Take breaks several times per day. Speak to your boss about reducing tasks when necessary. Make sure you get enough sleep at night so that you are energized.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW
1. Select a few things to accomplish at work each day

Going into each day with a clear idea of what you must accomplish can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Keep your to-do list short and reasonable, and identify only the top one to three things you need to complete for that day. It can also be helpful if you have items on the list that are flexible and can be “pushed” if necessary. This practice also teaches you time management.

2. Prioritize tasks in order of importance

Make sure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, so you don’t become overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. This can also help ensure that essential tasks get done first, while smaller tasks can be put off until later.

3. Take breaks several times per day

Taking regular breaks throughout the day is proven in studies to help reduce job stress levels and give your mind time to reset and refocus on tasks. Even just 5 minutes away from your desk can make a big difference in how productive you feel when you sit back down.

4. Speak to your boss about reducing tasks when necessary

Talk openly to your boss about any of your concerns or issues related to your workload or expectations. Knowing how to talk to your boss about mental health will help them understand where you’re coming from so they can provide support as needed. Ask for realistic deadlines for projects or if they will adjust responsibilities, so there’s more balance between them.

5. Make sure you get enough sleep at night so you’re energized

There is a real connection between sleep and mental health. Research shows that not getting enough sleep at night contributes to a higher risk of mental distress. Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. Keep your room dark and free of distractions an hour before bedtime, and avoid screen time and social media before bed.

6. Eat healthy and practice self care

What is self care? Self care is an integral part of staying mentally and physically in tune. When you make time for yourself, you can take on so much more, so you’ll reduce the feelings of overwhelm and have more energy and motivation at work. You can practice self care by meditating, doing yoga, going for walks, journaling for mental health, reading — do anything you enjoy that’s specifically for you. 

7. Set boundaries and take time away from work

Setting boundaries around what types of tasks or projects you’re willing to take on is key to avoiding burnout so you don’t feel overwhelmed by work. If something isn’t within your scope of responsibility or expertise, don’t be afraid to say no.

8. Delegate when you can

Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks. Delegating to others can relieve workplace stress and allow you to focus on other priorities.

How to Admit You’re Overwhelmed at Work

When it comes to feeling overwhelmed at work, admitting there’s a problem can be difficult. Still, it’s an important step to take to ensure your mental health and well-being are priorities.

Use the following checklist to determine if you’re overwhelmed at work:

Are you acknowledging your feelings?

Do you need to talk to someone you trust about your mental state at work?

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time for yourself?

Do you find you lack boundaries?

Are you putting your job before self care?

Do you work long hours and forget or refuse to take a break?

“If you notice you cannot concentrate on work, the quality of your work has decreased, you’re missing important due dates, or you’re always tired and feeling stressed, these are all signs that you are overwhelmed at work.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW

Manage Feelings of Overwhelm at Work with Talkspace

Are you feeling overwhelmed at work? Don’t suffer in silence. Help is help available. Get support and guidance by signing up for online therapy with Talkspace today. 

Talkspace offers personalized, one-on-one therapy sessions with licensed therapists who can provide practical tools that help you manage job stress levels. Therapy can equip you with skills to cope better when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work. Don’t let yourself become a victim of burnout symptoms — take control of your mental health now with help from an experienced therapist.


Blasche G, Arlinghaus A, Crevenna R. The impact of rest breaks on subjective fatigue in physicians of the General Hospital of Vienna. Wiener klinische Wochenschrift. 2021;134(3-4):156-161. doi:10.1007/s00508-021-01949-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8857152/. Accessed December 21, 2022. 

Blackwelder A, Hoskins M, Huber L. Effect of inadequate sleep on frequent mental distress. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2021;18. doi:10.5888/pcd18.200573. https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2021/20_0573.htm. Accessed December 21, 2022. 

The post What to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed at Work appeared first on Talkspace.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add Comment *

Name *

Email *