Every university student can relate to feeling overwhelmed at some time during their studies. Whether it’s the end of semester rush, balancing life and uni responsibilities, or that one group project (we’ve all been there!). It’s important to know you’re never alone in dealing with these feelings. There are many helpful methods that can organise your time and headspace, as well as resources you can easily access to help you combat feeling overwhelmed.
The Navigator team chatted to Elza Fabian and Jacqueline Olley from Counselling and Psychology Services to get some professional tips on how to manage this feeling.
(example figure of what not to do when feeling overwhelmed)
What steps are there to help prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed?
When you start to feel that build up of stress and tasks that can lead themselves to becoming overwhelming, it’s a great idea to implement certain strategies from the very beginning. Elza and Jacqueline say that keeping a routine is a great start;
“Building and maintaining a routine for keeping up with uni work can be very helpful. This helps with procrastination, as a routine provides clarity about what your day looks like, and you are more likely to get motivated to do the things you need to do.”
If things are starting to fall out of a routine, it may be best to take a step back and re-think how you’re spending your time and how you’re prioritising. It’s never any use to spend hours bullet journaling with your arsenal of colour-coordinated highlighters if you realise that your feelings of stress and being overwhelmed are actually stopping you from getting any productive work done. This is where practising self-care can be useful in helping you to re-access and re-evaluate your feelings.
“Practicing self-care even when we are not feeling overwhelmed keeps our “tank full” for times when we are stressed. Exercise, eating healthy foods, being in nature, connecting with friends and family are all things that build mental resilience for times when we are not coping well.”
Lastly, staying in contact with your friends really can make a difference on your overall wellbeing, particularly when you feel that things are starting to get overwhelming.
“[staying in contact with friends] can reduce feelings of isolation and give a more realistic view of where we are up to with keeping on top of our work, and a sense that we are not alone in feelings of stress and worry.”
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, what are some of the best ways to cope with these feelings?
When you’re already dealing with feeling overwhelmed, it can seem like everything is falling apart underneath you. Elza and Jacqueline suggest that switching your thinking can be helpful;
“Think about what the things they can and can’t control. Switch their focus to the things they can influence, and work on those things.”
The feelings of anxiety that you’re holding onto when feeling overwhelmed may often be even more stressful than the original cause of your worries. It’s always important to keep perspective, and even simple breathing and mindfulness can be a small yet important step to keeping things in control.
“Taking 10 slow deep breaths when overwhelmed and focusing on sights, smells, noises that are around us can be very grounding.”
Lastly, try to never beat yourself up about your own feelings.
“Notice self-talk, and change it: how would you talk to someone who was in a similar situation? Avoid affirmations that are undeletable or difficult to believe, and go with something more realistic. “I am doing ok”, “It’s ok if my work isn’t perfect” etc. “
Resources to help you with feeling overwhelmed
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the University of Newcastle has many resources available for those who are struggling with feeling overwhelmed. Wellbeing advisors can help you manage and find solution to a range of problems, as well as making sure you find the right support. You can get in contact with them anytime here. There’s also a whole bunch of support documents that you can access at any time if you’re needing some extra guidance and support.