Overwhelmed at Work: How to Manage Stress While Working at Home

Overwhelmed at work? 

Working from home can be stressful even on a good day – add a worldwide pandemic to that and you’ve got a recipe for an overwhelming situation. The uncertain future that COVID-19 has created means that work and life stressors have now merged, creating a very overwhelming reality for many people.

While a large percentage of people all around the world were working from home before the pandemic, now millions more have been forced to take their work out of the office. New pressures and stressors that come with working from home are now a reality for many. Technological issues, the inability to access all the necessary files and information needed to complete a project and even the issue of how to manage your time when not in a traditional workspace can create an overwhelming situation.

If working from home in isolation has become overwhelming and stressful, there are ways to combat these feelings and to help you feel less anxious.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

Signs You’re Overwhelmed At Work

overwhelmed at work effects

Work can be stressful, there’s no doubt about that. But too much stress and anxiety can become overwhelming. If you begin to feel constantly anxious about work, if you’re often confused or are starting to feeling completely exhausted both mentally and physically, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed.

Other common signs of feeling overwhelmed at work include constantly being on edge and overreacting to even the smallest things, thinking about work all the time and being kept up at night by thoughts about work, feeling anxious or depressed, a lack of focus and procrastination, as well as headaches, muscles aches and stomach aches resulting from stress.

If you’re experiencing any or all of these signs, you’re likely overwhelmed. It’s time to do something about it before matters get worse, as many negative outcomes can result from being overwhelmed at work.

The Effects of Being Overwhelmed

If you’re stressed and feeling overwhelmed at work, especially while working from home, it’s important to take measures to reduce these feelings in order to avoid the negative emotional and physical impacts of prolonged stress.

Feeling overwhelmed at work long-term can lead to:

  • Burnout
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased vulnerability to illness, infection and disease
  • Heart complications
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Mental health issues like depression and social withdraw

Burnout is a real problem in the workplace. Learn more about burnout and how to avoid it by reading  Why Burnout – 10 Simple Ways To Get Back On Track.”

10 Tips For Managing Stress While Working From Home

1. Make a to-do list

Create a list of the things that you need to accomplish each day. Write your to-do list the day before and make sure to prioritize the items on it. Knowing you have this list will help you to stop thinking about work once the workday is done and can even help you sleep better. Try breaking down large tasks into smaller parts that will be more attainable throughout the day.

In order to keep from feeling overwhelmed, limit your list to just a few (3 – 5) of the most important items. Take some time to estimate how long it will take you to complete your list and cut back on items for that day if it’s too long.

A list of things that you need to get done will help keep you on track and will provide a sense of accomplishment each time you check an item off the list.

2. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking can lead to overwhelming feelings very quickly. And multitasking at home can become a real problem, especially when other people are in your workspace.

Whether you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks or projects at once, or trying to deal with work, kids and pets all at the same time, multitasking is not a good idea – no matter how good at it you think you are! Prioritize your tasks and complete one before moving on to the next. Arrange for a babysitter or pet sitter, if necessary, so you can focus on your work.

3.    Learn to Delegate

If a lot of your stress has to do with the fact that you have too much to do, it might be time to delegate. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Identify tasks that can be delegated and ask your colleagues to give you a hand. Perfecting your delegation skills will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run, helping you to feel much less overwhelmed, but this largely depends on your management style and how you choose to delegate your work. 

4. Tidy Up Your Work Area
overwhelmed at work tips

It may seem simple but tidying your workspace, especially if you’re at home and working in a space that is typically used for other daily activities, can greatly decrease your stress levels and help you to feel more calm. So, clear your island of all its clutter or remove everything from the kitchen table before you start your work.

5.    Turn On Some Music

One of the many benefits of working at home – you won’t be bothering anyone else in the office with your choice of relaxing music.

Turning on some quiet and relaxing tunes while working can help relieve stress and calm you down. Often instrumental music can be quite soothing. So, find a relaxing playlist and hit play!

Telecommuting and working from home is gerat, but is it detrimental to your own mental health? Find out more in What Is Telecommuting And What Are The Benefits?”

6. Give Yourself Time To Recharge Throughout The Day
office-pets-guide

Whether you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or not, make sure to give yourself small breaks throughout the day. These small breaks, even if they’re just a few minutes long, will help you unwind and restore your focus.

Have an office pet or one of your own? Try taking some time out of your day to spend it with your favourite feline or canine companion! 

In addition, take some time for a longer break (an hour or so) where you can step back and recharge your mind and body. For example, take an hour during the middle of the day to stretch, do some deep breathing, meditate or do yoga. Doing so will help you de-stress and calm your mind.

7.    Confide In Others

Talk through your concerns with someone you trust. Whether it’s a colleague, friend or family member, sometimes talking things through with someone else can help you see things from a different perspective and even identify a solution.

The ability to discuss work concerns with a colleague is especially helpful. They may be able to help you come up with a helpful solution, particularly because they will be familiar with your situation.

8. Keep Moving

Don’t forget to keep moving while you work at home. Without a commute and with easy access to a couch and other comfortable furniture, it can be easy to adopt sedentary habits while working from home.

If you feel overwhelmed it can also add to your dislike of exercise. However, adding some physical activity to your day can help greatly with reducing stress and exhaustion. For example, take a short walk during your lunch break, go for a jog or just do some stretching at your desk.

Looking for something a little more fun and upbeat? Try dancing around the house to your favorite tune. Moving your body will make you feel a lot better and will improve your focus!

9. Get Out And Socialize
social distancing socializing

Working from home can be very isolating – not a good stressor to add if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to make time for socializing and interacting with your friends and colleagues. This is especially important when working from home.

In the office regular daily interactions take place and, although you may not realize it, these positive social interactions can boost your mood, ease stress and even contribute to problem solving and creativity in the workplace.

Therefore, take the time to have lunch with a friend or colleague. Even a phone call or video chat can go a long way to helping you overcome stress at work – social interaction is imperative for a positive work environment.

10.  End Your Day As You Would At The Office

It can be too easy to work around the clock when working from home. But this can lead to high stress levels and burnout. Even though it might be easy to continue working on that big project, make sure you put a clear end to your day when it should be over.

For example, when your workday is over, save and close everything and shut down your computer, as you would at the office. If you have a designated home office, shut the lights off and close the door. By ending your day like this you’ll ensure you are refreshed and rejuvenated for the next day.

Key Takeaways on Being Overwhelmed at Work

In these crazy COVID times, uncertainty and unfamiliarity can compound on the already stressful lives we live. Feeling overwhelmed while working at home can present itself in many different ways. You may be on edge, testy, exhausted, and have physical aches and pains from the stress you are feeling.

While it may seem like there is no end in sight, there are many strategies that can help you stop feeling so overwhelmed. In fact, as soon as you are able to identify these signs you should address them in order to avoid the severe mental and physical effects of prolonged stress.

10 effective ways to deal with overwhelming feelings at work include:

  1. Make a to-do list the night before of all the things you need to get done the next day. Try to keep your list attainable with just 3 – 5 items. Don’t worry, there’s always tomorrow for anything that doesn’t get finished.
  2. Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. Once that task is complete, move on to the next one.

  3. Learn to delegate and ask for help when you need it. Good delegation skills can go a long way in decreasing stress from work overload.

  4. Keep your work area tidy to help minimize stress from clutter.

  5. Turn on some calming music to help relieve anxiety.

  6. Take breaks throughout the day to give yourself time to recharge. Whether it’s a short 5 minute break or an hour long break you take mid-day, giving yourself a mental and physical break can help greatly if you are feeling overwhelmed.

  7. Confide in other people with your problems and work stressors. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust to help take the load off.

  8. Don’t forget to keep moving and engaging in physical activity, regardless of how easy (and preferable) it is to stay sedentary. Go for a run, or even a walk, to help boost your mood and relieve anxiety.

  9. Make sure to get out and socialize in order to avoid feelings of stress that result from isolation.

  10. End your day as you would at the office by shutting down your computer and signalling to yourself that the workday is over.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, worried you’re on the road to it or just looking to relieve some everyday stress from your job, these tips can help you relax, recharge and reduce anxiety while working at home or in the office.

Thea Christie

Written By Thea Christie

Thea is the Content Marketing Lead at Advesa and possesses a strange love of grammar, syntax and punctuation. In the past, she’s worked as a content specialist for publications in the startup, SME and tech space. When she’s not storytelling, she’s busy being a travel junkie. @theachristie