Things to Do When Feeling Overwhelmed
Imagine how nice it would be to have a break from all the stress and worry that life throws your way. Unfortunately, we can't always avoid these feelings of being overwhelmed. But there are some things you can do when you're feeling this way:
Take a deep breath
When we feel stressed out, our breathing becomes shallow and fast. This is because the body reacts to stress by preparing for an emergency or flight response. Taking a deep breath will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system which calms down muscles and nerves in preparation for rest or recovery.
It's important not just for high-stress situations but also on days where you're going about your day with minor stresses where taking that momentary pause can help. Taking the moment to do something as simple as a physiological sigh can be all that is needed to kick us in to our rest and digest phase, restoring some balance back into your life.
Make a list of what's making you stressed out
When possible, write down your feelings and thoughts as they come up so that when things get too much for us we feel like we have an outlet where we don't lose ourselves in those overwhelming emotions.
Writing our way through these moments helps organise what comes out of them rather than letting everything build inside until it explodes everywhere at once. Writing helps us get out of our heads so that we don't overthink everything to the point where nothing makes sense anymore.
It also gives us perspective: all these problems may seem huge and insurmountable but writing them down shows us just how small most of them are. We are capable of handling them, even if it's just one at a time.
Talk to someone
Sometimes all you need is someone else to help sort through these thoughts with you and some paper or your computer screen can serve as an outlet for this too!
Talking about how we feel takes more courage than writing about it but rest assured that once they're written down or spoken aloud, they won't seem nearly as big anymore - seeing things in black and white actually gives them grey areas rather than making us feel like there's no hope left. It's a way for us to feel better and take back control of our feelings.
Give those difficult feelings a voice - no matter if it's through writing or talking, let them out and see how much smaller they look from all sides instead of suffocating us inside the box we've put them into!
Give yourself permission to take care of yourself
When we're feeling overwhelmed by everything going on in our lives, instead of losing ourselves in the stress or worrying about what will come next, taking care of yourself can be your biggest reward. Self-compassion is one way to do this - after all, being kind to others starts with being kinder to yourself!
Sometimes life really does get too much but when you give yourself permission to take time out from the chaos and recharge whenever possible (and even if only briefly), that alone helps make things more manageable again. Something as simple as doing something nice for yourself can help you feel better about whatever is going on in your life.
Go for a walk outside, or find another way to get some fresh air and sunshine. Take a break and do something you enjoy.
You may like to try relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga when you're feeling overwhelmed because they really can make such a difference in how we feel. Insight Timer is a wonderful resource for free guided meditations, even if you only have a couple of minutes to spare.
Nourish your body with healthy food and drink
Don't deny yourself nourishing food - these will give you the energy boost you'll need rather than draining it away from you like processed foods or sugary snacks might. Stay away from sugar and sugary snacks as these will make you crash. It's a good idea to avoid caffeine and alcohol if you're feeling overwhelmed because they can actually make things worse rather than helping.
Drink lots of water and other non-caffeinated drinks and eat healthy snacks that give you the energy boost you need to take care of yourself.
Trust your instincts about what's right for you at any given moment. Sometimes we know deep down that some decisions aren't healthy or helpful even if they seem like a good idea at the time. This is where having an open mind can help us stay on track because we'll be able to tell when something isn't really working out no matter how much we think maybe it could turn into a positive thing later on. Trust your gut. Sometimes our instinct knows better than anything else so go with those feelings instead of trying to push them away.
Get enough sleep each night
Don't skip on getting enough sleep either. This is one of the most important things you can do. If we're not sleeping well, everything else will suffer and more than likely spiral out of control so don't neglect your health by giving yourself too little rest! Take the time to ensure that you have a good sleeping environment. Focus on your sleep hygiene and how to get a good night's rest.
We get it - life is stressful. The good news is that there are some simple ways you can manage stress and take care of yourself. You might want to try asking someone for help, making a list of what's causing your stress, going outside or doing something else fun, taking breaks when needed, eating healthy food on the regular so you have enough energy to keep up with all these other things on this list.
If you feel like getting professional help would be beneficial for your situation, please do so and pat yourself on the back for making a great decision.
What do you think? Have any go-to activities for managing stress? Let us know below.