The fast pace of today’s daily living can cause even the most robust backbones to bend. Overwhelm, anxiety, and stress are some of the top complaints from adults and teenagers across the world.
If you’re feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders at your job or in your personal life, you’re not alone.
Knowing that others are going or have gone through the same things isn’t always helpful, though.
What does help?
Having the tools at your disposal to help you get through your overwhelming emotions when they crop up.
When everything seems like too much, try one or all five of these tips to calm yourself.
1. Get Busy
Sometimes that overwhelm hits when you’re so busy you can’t think straight. The tiniest straw — something that the person who is responsible for it thinks is nothing — is what breaks your back.
Other times it sneaks up on you in the quiet. You’ve stopped being inundated constantly with important and mindless tasks, and you can finally think.
But those thoughts are full of self-doubt and worry, and you quickly spiral into overwhelm.
Whether you want to or not, it’s important to stay active in both of these situations. Just be careful to choose an action that is gentle on your senses, like a hobby you enjoy or an easy task.
If what you’re currently doing is causing you to stress, and it’s not necessary at that moment — as in, a life or death activity — do something else.
Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity. Keep those feet moving forward.
It’s not ignoring the problem. It’s managing it at the moment.
You can analyze, reflect, and give yourself time to heal when you’re not overwhelmed.
2. Give Yourself Some Grace
Have you ever caught yourself lying awake at night, recounting a list of everything you didn’t have time to do that day? It’s a stressful thought process that causes insomnia or restless sleep.
Focusing on everything you have not done increases anxiety and feelings of overwhelm.
Instead of racking your mind with all the things you still have to do, work on actively switching your thinking.
Make a list of things you already accomplished that day, even the trivial stuff. You woke up, you brushed your teeth, got dressed.
All of those things require effort. If you did anything — especially if you did it when you weren’t quite up to it — you deserve accolades, not insults.
Give yourself a little bit of grace. Life isn’t always easy, but you can be your biggest fan.
3. Practice a Meditative Time Out
Lamaze class teaches women how to deal with labor and overwhelming pain.
Lessons like this aren’t just for labor. They’re used to control physical and mental pain around the world for a multitude of issues.
Through these lessons and many other expert training, students learn to use self-soothing techniques to change their thoughts. Your thoughts control your perceptions or your senses, and your senses control your pain.
Life coaches, psychologists, and other experts employ some of these methods:
- Deep breathing
- Counting backward
- The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 coping technique for anxiety
- Swedish massage, acupuncture, and other physical relaxation techniques
It might take a few tries to find the technique that works for you. You might even have to change it up after a while. But consistency is the key, so stick to it!
4. Make a List
Things often seem overwhelming when thoughts are racing through your mind out of control.
Take control by making a list. For some reason, lists calm even the wildest of beasts.
Psychologists suggest that making lists help us to focus on the tasks we know we have to do. In our minds, this list is endless. But when we put our to-dos on paper, they are often less stressful than we believed.
List-making can reduce anxiety. It can also increase your creative thought processes. Since you’re now solution-focused rather than problem-centric.
Make a list of the to-dos that are piling up on your shoulder. On paper, they may not be as bad as you think.
Once you’ve written the list, separate it into things you, and you alone, have to do. Be honest. Just because you can do it better than someone else doesn’t mean no one else can do it.
Next, create subcategories of things you really should do today, tasks you can put off for another, less stressful, day, and jobs you can delegate.
You are now in control of your immediate future, and it feels good, doesn’t it?
5. Be Grateful
Yet another form of list-making is a gratitude assessment. Psychology uses this to help people focus on their blessings rather than stressors, but you can use your version daily.
There’s always something to be grateful for. Instead of counting your stresses when you’re overwhelmed, take a few minutes to list your good fortunes.
This can be hard to do when you’re already overloaded, but it helps. And sometimes the smallest blessings make the biggest difference.
Start with the tiniest things, such as waking up that day, having a roof over your head, and food on the table. Then move on to stuff that’s more unique to you.
The lengthy list you compile may surprise you.
Pulling up out of the pits of overwhelm isn’t an easy job. When you’re hard on yourself — it makes it even more difficult.
As you go through life, you’ll start to recognize the signs of impending despair. If you see them on the horizon, grab onto these techniques early. Give yourself a quiet place to work through what’s bothering you.
Above all, remember that this, too, shall pass!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Sakara on a daily basis to grow their online presence.