Anyone can feel overwhelmed from too many demands and challenges, but creative and highly sensitive people may be especially vulnerable.
Many of us may feel inspired to pursue multiple creative projects, often at the same time.
One potential downside is physical, energy and emotional overwhelm, even burnout.
What can we do about it?
Psychiatrist Joseph A. Annibali notes how highly sensitive people may have evolved, and what to do about being overwhelmed. Here is part of an article of his:
When humankind functioned as nomadic hunter-gatherers, more impulsive, underaroused action-oriented individuals probably were the first to find food.
Easily overaroused individuals would be better able to detect and warn of potential danger, better monitor animals and other humans, and more able to pass along cultural wisdom.
A number of the strategies in my book “Reclaim Your Brain” assist HSP individuals with calming their overstimulation.
Here are some strategies that may be particularly helpful for HSPs:
Accept your feelings of being overwhelmed; don’t fight them. They, too, shall pass.
Rewrite your negative story of being flawed or defective because you become overwhelmed so easily.
Reframe your coping style as not lack of coping ability but rather a different way of coping.
Remind yourself of the good qualities that accompany being an HSP—such as sensitivity, feeling deeply, being empathic, understanding others, and being sensitive to art.
Get enough rest so you can recharge effectively after being particularly overstimulated.
Anxiety isn’t all bad.
Anxious individuals tend to be more sensitive, which can aid in developing relationships. Anxiety drives us to keep our children safe.
We may anticipate problems better if we’re on the anxious side. And anxiety alerts and mobilizes us. Yet when it is too strong, too painful, we need to find a way to deal with our anxiety.
In my book, I discuss many strategies that help readers manage their anxiety, calm their minds, and balance their busy, anxious brains.
From article The Highly Sensitive Person by Joseph A. Annibali, July 7, 2016.
Dr. Joseph A. Annibali graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Chief Psychiatrist at Amen Clinics, and author of the book:
Michaela Chung writes in an article about this topic:
When you’re an introvert like me, you spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed. Who can blame you?
Introvert overwhelm is a natural side effect of being an introvert in an extrovert’s world.
As an introvert, you are more easily overstimulated by things like noise, crowds, and bright flashing lights.
You wish you could press pause on life, so that you can take it all in and process the chaos.
Because here’s the thing about introverts.
We process more information at a given time than extroverts.
Our mind is like a high-end computer that can hold a whole lot of data.
We take in so much information that we need more time to make sense of it all.
Unfortunately, time is in short supply in our fast-paced world. And introverts are suffering for it.
Signs that you’re struggling with introvert overwhelm:
* You feel chronically exhausted, even when you get enough sleep
* You’re constantly irritable and on edge for no apparent reason
* You often zone out and shut down at work or social settings
* You feel mentally fragmented, as if your thoughts have gone through the shredder
In case you’re struggling with introvert overwhelm, I’ve put together my best advice to conquer overwhelm, and stop the burnout cycle. Here we go.
3 Crucial Steps To Conquer Introvert Overwhelm:
1. Focus on prevention.
Have you noticed that we live in a culture that focuses on treatment over prevention?
Mainstream logic tells you to just pop a pill, or put a Band-Aid over whatever ails you.
When it comes to introvert overwhelm, prevention is your salvation.
Because guess what.
Once overwhelm gets its claws into you, your energy and motivation levels are already in the negatives. At this point you’re more likely to reach for a chocolate bar and Tylenol, than a yoga mat.
So, how exactly do you prevent introvert overwhelm? It’s not as hard as you might think.
It all begins with the 3 P’s: Plan, Prepare, Protect…
Read more in her article Introvert Overwhelm: 3 Key Steps To Stop The Cycle, on her site Introvert Spring.
A number of qualities and experiences Michaela Chung mentions above apply to being a highly sensitive person.
Shyness, introversion and high sensitivity may share some qualities, and they can overlap and interact, but they are not the same.
See my article: Shyness, Introversion, Sensitivity – What’s the Difference?
Intuitive psychiatrist Judith Orloff notes:
Since emotions such as fear, anger, and frustration are energies, you can potentially “catch” them from people without realizing it.
If you tend to be an emotional sponge, it’s vital to know how to avoid taking on an individual’s negative emotions or the free-floating kind in crowds.
Another twist is that chronic anxiety, depression, or stress can turn you into an emotional sponge by wearing down your defenses.
Suddenly, you become hyper-attuned to others, especially those with similar pain.
From article Judith Orloff on Coping With Emotional Overload.
This is an excerpt from her book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.
The image at the top is also used in my article Highly Sensitive and Living With Social Anxiety.
Highly sensitive but anxious
Everyone can experience stress and anxiety in various ways, but having a more “finely tuned” nervous system, with greater sensory processing sensitivity, can make highly sensitive people more susceptible to anxiety.
(This is an article on my Anxiety Relief Solutions site – which has many other articles and programs.)
How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety When You’re Highly Sensitive
This long article includes the section Adrenal Fatigue, Insomnia and Exhaustion – In an article for Elephant Journal, Alex Myles cautions: “Empaths can experience a sudden onset of chronic fatigue due to a significant crash in energy levels.
“This can be caused by having a variety of emotional responsibilities, and also because we profusely leak our energy when we do not remain present, consciously aware, grounded, and balanced.” – Read much more in the article.