🧠 #107: Stressed or overwhelmed

As I step into a new job, among many other life changes, I’m trying to balance stress and overwhelm in healthy ways.

These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.

One of the consistently difficult parts about life with OCD is dealing with change. We all know that change is constant—we will continually have to make adjustments to our plans and expectations.

OCD can often make my expectations feel written in concrete and painfully immovable.

That means that a period of significant life change, like I’m going through now, is at once difficult and therapeutically helpful.

As I was reflecting on how I was feeling at my new job, I realized that I have felt overwhelmed, but not stressed. Also, I have feel stressed, but not overwhelmed.

Apparent contradictions are good for my mind to have to grapple with, so this is a healthy state in which I find myself.

There are parts of my job that are certainly stressful. We have some major deadlines approaching quickly, which I knew before I accepted the job. It’s good for those to be stressful. We should feel the pressure to get things ready. The nice part for me is that I have not been overwhelmed by those issues. We are in a good place and moving forward in all the right areas, and I am cautiously optimistic.

On the other hand, there are parts of my job that are overwhelming. Our team has responsibility for so many different systems, and almost all of them are completely new to me. Navigating and coordinating many different personalities is always a challenge, and I now have 11 people reporting to me, and 6 others supporting our team that I feel a keen sense of responsibility for.

Handling all of that well feels totally overwhelming. But not stressful. I feel a sense of calm that I will get where I need to be. I can’t learn everything all at once, and that’s ok. We just need to continue working away and building up and strengthening the culture to be full of trust and respect for each other.

In some ways, what is scary to me right now is the fact that I seem to be handling everything all right. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It seems illogical that I would be able to cope with so much change and uncertainty all at once.

I’m trying to be mindful of how I’m actually feeling, and not disallow my emotions. I’m noticing gratitude for the skills that I have, and the way in which I’ve been able to apply them to make my way forward.

Worrying about what might happen in the future is counterproductive. If problems come up, I will deal with them then. For now, I want to just be happy that I am functioning well and making progress.

Hopefully you too can identify thought spirals that are not serving you, and set them aside.

Focus more on the here and now. This is where we can make a difference. This is where we can show up for other people. This is where we can live.

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