What to do when you feel overwhelmed
We all feel stressed and anxious at times, but sometimes a number of things seem to build up and you can feel overwhelmed. This happened to me recently. There were a number of things happening in my life that triggered my anxiety and made me feel stressed.
I recognised that I needed to do something about it one evening after work when I felt sick to my stomach and was struggling to slow down my thinking. This is what I did:
I found a yoga routine online specifically designed to reduce stress. Yoga is something I try to practise regularly and certain poses are great for reducing the physical effects of stress while calming the mind.
It sounds so simple, but taking half an hour to just relax in the bath really relaxed me.
While these two actions helped to calm me down, I was getting ready for bed and realised that my mind was still racing – I hadn’t resolved the cause of my stress. This is when, for the first time in years, I picked up my journal and started writing.
Rather than having a ‘dear diary’ moment, I wrote to myself…. and basically had a word with myself:
- I wrote down what was causing my stress. The situations that were turning over in my head.
- Underneath the causes I wrote anything I could action to help myself feel better about the situation, for example:
“Cause of stress: Moving home. Actions: Book some time off work and plan out the moving days.”
Just planning my time for this made me feel more relieved.
- If there were no actions, I wrote how I could change the way I look at it/feel about it. For example:
“Cause of stress: Family conflict. What can I do about it?: Nothing. You have offered your support, the rest is up to them. Take a step back from the situation and breathe.”
Sometimes there is simply nothing you can do. In these cases it’s important to be kind to yourself and remove yourself. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react.
- I finished my journal with a list of things I was grateful for and a little pep talk.
“You are the only one who can control the direction of your life. You already have the power to change and grow.”
This left me feeling calm, collected and positive.
When we feel overwhelmed we often feel out of control. For me, journalling helps me regain that sense of control.
The next day…
I slept well, but had some pretty awful nightmares, so my subconscious obviously hadn’t got the memo that all was well. The next morning I chose to shun my usual routine of podcasts and watching the news while getting ready. Instead I listened to a relaxing playlist and got ready mindfully. We often suffer from information overload thanks to the Internet and media, so it was nice to just shut off the outside world for a bit.
By the time I got to work I was feeling relaxed and ready to take on any challenges the day had to throw at me. My mind hasn’t totally shut itself off to the stress triggers, but I now feel I have the remedy for when it builds up.