You skipped breakfast, your boss moved your deadline to the end of the day and you forgot to wear deodorant (again!). What do you do when it all feels like too much? Start by taking a deep breath and asking yourself a few of these questions.
Why Am I Overwhelmed?
"Overwhelm" is increasingly common as demands on human attention increase exponentially. The human brain just wasn't designed to handle the environment we inhabit. For the vast majority of world history, human life—both culture and biology—was shaped by scarcity. Food, clothing, shelter, tools and pretty much everything else had to be farmed or fabricated, at a very high cost in time and energy. Knowledge was power, and it was hard to come by; for centuries, books had to be copied by hand and were rare and precious. Even people were scarce: Friends and relatives died young (as late as 1900, life expectancy in the United States was approximately 49 years). This kind of scarcity still rules the world's poorest regions. But in the developed world, hundreds of millions of us now face the bizarre problem of surfeit. Yet our brains, instincts and socialized behavior are still geared to an environment of lack. The result? Overwhelm—on an unprecedented scale. –Martha Beck
Keep Reading: How to keep your head above water
Am I Really Busy or Does It Just Feel This Way?
Most of us judge how busy we are by how much we have to do. When there are too many things to do, we think we're busy, and when there isn't much to do, it feels like we're not busy at all. But in fact, we can feel busy when there isn't that much to do, and we can feel relaxed even when there's a lot going on. The states of "busy" and "not busy" aren't defined by how many things there are to do. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as multitasking; the brain can tend to only one thing at a time. Being too busy or not being busy is an interpretation of our activity. Busy-ness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we're doing, we're always just doing what we're doing, simply living this one moment of our lives. –Norman Fischer
Keep Reading: Simple (yet astounding) ways to calm down
Next Question: What's the real priority?