Recognizing Overload

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

As human beings we often forget that we are fragile.

We push well beyond our limits, forgetting what we require to stay productive. We make promises we shouldn’t — and say “yes” far too often.

I think you’ll share my opinion that we all fall prey to this dynamic at one time or another. No one is immune. So, it is with great remorse that I admit that yesterday Power Point caused my “undoing”. (The details are unimportant. However, my response was another story.)

I’m not speaking of a brief moment of aggravation with an accompanying quick recovery. I refer to a full-blown toddler moment, where I fantasized about throwing down my pen, flipping my desk and slipping away into the madding crowd. It was an unusual reaction and I took note of it. (This reminded me of a holiday shopping trip with one of my boys. As the stroller passed the toy department, there were nearly 1000 Barney dinosaurs mounted on the store pillars. This provoked a fit of unchecked screaming like no other I can recall.)

To be fair, this is what I was feeling.


But, hold on. I’m not going to move to guilt and outright embarrassment.

I’ve realized this auspicious moment had nothing to do with Power Point “un-saving” my work. It was delivered courtesy of the stress (both inside and outside of work) that had accumulated — much like peeling layers of toxic lead paint.

I’m sure this has happened to you. A response far out of sync with what has actually happened.

This begins with emotional and/or physical exhaustion. This comes with over-extending your nervous system. This is related to not feeding your ying or ego, or whatever part of your psyche that may be starving. It can come from trying your very hardest to ensure things will go well and they still go awry.

Yes, this is life.

However, it remains awfully difficult to digest at times.

Most of us fail to recognize when we are at the brink — much less take action to move away from that brink.

Here is what you should do if you find yourself peering over the edge:

  1. Explore methods of self-support, which my clinical counterparts strongly recommend.
  2. Add a healthy dose of mindfulness to your daily routine.
  3. Feed your “musical” soul. Listen to the music that helps you feel “lifted” and inspired.
  4. Indulge a hobby. (I find hobbies a distraction from my core career goals. However, healthy distraction are just that — healthy!)
  5. Dwell on the positive signs of forward career evolution.
  6. Thoughtfully reminisce about the people that you have enjoyed working worked with recently (and why).
  7. Read for one hour each day. Getting lost in the thoughts and experiences of others can change our perspective.
  8. Learn from your mistakes. List the situations that didn’t end the way you had hoped. Develop strategies to to change that course, if presented again.
  9. Take a side path. Learn something new. (Scroll through the options Udemy or We all have the capacity to evolve for the better.
  10. If you feel you need professional help, do so. Reach out. There are wonderful resources ou there that can serve on your career “Board of Directors”.

This is only a start — and personally I hope to avoid a repeat occurrence.

But, no guarantees.

I forget myself sometimes.

I’m only human.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

2 thoughts on “Recognizing Overload

  1. At one point or another it seems inevitably to feel overwhelmed. I love these tips, especially focusing on a hobby. It’s hard to step back sometime, but amazing how much more productive you feel when recharged!


  2. Pretty good post. Thanks a lot for such a helpful info. I remember how it was. First, you good writer, then he asks you to help them, after all, you make all their work.


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