Feeling overwhelmed and paralysed

A laptop and phone are placed atop a park bench with sticky notes fully covering the laptop screen.

The assessments just seem to keep coming.

As semester continues, it really does pick up the pace. I find myself creating to-do lists upon to-do lists. I tell myself that this is me being organised and productive but in reality, it just makes me more overwhelmed. I stare at the colourful sticky notes organised into weeks and modules, the sticky notes devoted to personal errands, the sticky notes for extracurricular activities and more. 

I should be ready to get started, right? I should know what my game plan is and get grinding… right?But for some reason, it's so hard to get started. I get the urge to do everything at once, everything is important and everything must be completed. It leaves me paralysed. The anxious feelings keep building up inside me as time goes on without me doing anything until the day comes to an end and I have to go to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. 

I’m tired of feeling this way and I want to be able to move onwards with my life. So, here are a few things that have helped in times like this. 

  1. Self-reflecting to identify whether I’m feeling this way because I’m overworked and burnt out. If one of the barriers is genuinely my brain not being able to function anymore then, it’s time to go back to the basics. Firstly, eating something delicious gives my brain more energy. And importantly, resting. For me, this involves taking a break to focus on myself to do the things I enjoy and re-energise me.
  2. Prioritising my tasks so I can tackle them in small chunks. A method that helps me is to identify tasks for the day that I “must” do, and “could” do. This helps avoid disappointment by not being able to complete unrealistically long to-do lists.
  3. Sometimes, starting with the first step isn’t always the right step. When it’s hard to get started I find it easier to build momentum by starting with the easiest task. 

What do you like to do when you’re feeling stressed?


Tagged in What messes with your head, Student life, stress