When you feel overwhelmed – what exactly is happening? Why does the body decide to react this way?


When several problems all arise at once. I typically start to feel very overwhelmed. I’m curious what’s happening and trying to understand what my body/ instincts are indicating I should do.

In: 27

Your body releases adrenaline because its preparing for a fight even if no fight is coming. It’s your fight or flight instincts kicking in.

I was watching this video on the stress response by a great behavioral psychologist named Dr. Sapolsky called [“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9H9qTdserM)
If you got time it’s an excellent interview! All of his stuff is ELI5 accessible.

He talks about the stress response being a cocktail of chemicals readying the flight or flight response. In the modern world we can’t run away or fight like the response is designed for. It wasn’t designed to be activated over and over again as it causes accelerated brain cell atrophy along with a host of other organ system degradations. So when your response hits you are dealing with chemicals, hormones, shutdown of processes and thinking that is designed to get you out of situation. Your body doesn’t know what to do so you just kind of take it.

Slightly related point: Saplosky and his students are working on a treatment for stress using the stress-inducing herpes virus engineered to target the chemicals responsible.

Hopes this answers some of your questions! Sorry for the rant. Absolutely love psychology and this sort of stuff because it’s so universal and ingrained in the human condition. I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and get overwhelmed pretty easy so I think about this stuff a lot when I feel overwhelmed.

First Rage. Then Frustration. Then thought. Then calm. Then organizing the order of tasks. Then complete the tasks.

Just accept it. Go find a buddy (that’s OK with it) and yell at them for a bit. That usually gets rid of the first two. Then fix it. It’s not fun, but that’s how humans work.

Avoid punching things. That’s how you get a boxer’s fracture. It’s not my first rodeo. It took me 20 years to stop doing that. I don’t like boxer’s fractures. If you’re going to punch, count the studs at 16″ on center. That will force you to calm down because you have to think to do it.