Work out. Give back. Volunteer. Go to work. Take care of your family…. It seems impossible to stop feeling overwhelmed sometimes, but you can do it!
The list goes on and on for most of us. It’s easy to start to feel like it’s all too much–like we’re juggling a billion responsibilities and wondering how to stop feeling overwhelmed all the time.
A log of bloggers give out nebulous advice like, “stop comparing yourself to others,” or “block out time in your schedule.” Which is like, fine and great, except some of us are already trying to do those things, and still feel like we can’t keep up with it all.
Plus, let’s face it. In the last oh, year or so, there’s been many more battles to fight. Many of us feel like we’ve had to start getting more involved in civics and the world around us, whether we want to or not. Anyone who cares about the environment, the future of the planet, human rights, and a myriad of other concerns, is probably feeling like someone dumped a whole new job in their lap as of last year. One that many of us didn’t want or ask for….
But, for most of us, we realize part of living by our standards and ethics means we have to roll up our sleeves and get involved. We can’t sit by and stay silent. No wonder we can’t stop feeling overwhelmed! The world is pretty overwhelming right now.
So what are some things we can do to fight the feeling over being overwhelmed*?
1. Take a Break
One of the first steps you can take when you’re feeling overwhelmed is to take some time off. Now, I know not everyone can afford to take a “mental health day” at work or just run off on vacations whenever you’re feeling like you can’t deal. But if you want to stop feeling overwhelmed, take an hour or two by yourself.
Turn off your phone, shut down the newsfeed. Give your to do list a “hold” and put Facebook away. Just give yourself permission to zone out and shut out the rest of the world for a bit.
Right now, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by my exercise goals. I’ll be honest. I have a 10K coming up in a few weeks and after not one, but TWO bouts of a stomach bug, a new job and several other crazy events, I can guarantee you I’m not ready. AT ALL. In fact, I’ve given up on my original goal of PRing and now I’m simply hoping to survive. The jury is still out on whether I run it at all (I’m going to run it).
Here’s the deal, exercise is still a great way to deal with stress. If your exercise goals are stressing you out, get back to exercise you enjoy. Do something that just helps you escape. If it means putting on music and going for an easy run or walk, do it! If it means yoga, or a bike ride, or whatever floats your exercise boat, do that. Put “training” on hold, and just use exercise to get you back into relaxation mode.
3. Treat Yo’self
Having recently watched the Treat Yo’self episode of Parks & Rec, I can tell you–this is a genius strategy. When life feels overwhelming, some of us need a day of just doing awesome stuff. Now, you don’t have to go for spending crazy amounts of money you don’t have and buying a bunch of junk you don’t need.
Try treating yourself to something that makes you feel good to stop feeling overwhelmed. Go sit under a tree and read a book. Get a little chocolate treat at lunch. Scoop out a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Coconut Seven Layer (okay, seriously DO THIS because it’s amazing). Listen to a song that gets you super pumped up on Spotify and dance around your bedroom with your cat.
4. Get Agro
I’ll admit it. I’m super non-confrontational. I’ve gotten better about it, as I’ve aged. Like, I will send back food at a restaurant if it’s not what I ordered, or I will say, ‘I don’t totally agree with what you’re saying,” in a board meeting…BUT it’s taken me a long time to get there and I still have a long way to go.
Earlier this year, I went through multiple security threats and evacuations at work (talk about super overwhelming). At the same time, I started taking a few self defense/Krav Maga lessons. I can’t begin to tell you how much it helped. It was cathartic. Hitting a punching bag over and over was EXACTLY the stress reliever I needed. I’m a pacifist man, but sometimes getting a little aggressive in a constructive way, is just what the doctor ordered. I also recommend turning up Metallica in your car and screaming the lyrics on the way home from work.
5. Talk it Out
Sounds obvious, but so many of us don’t do this very simple thing when we’re stressed out. Therefore, we try to hold it in, deal with it and take care of things. We want to prove we can handle it all. If you want to stop feeling overwhelmed, find a friend that’s a good listener, your mom, your dog, whatever, and talk it all out.
If you feel like you’re REALLY needing to talk it out even more, a counselor or therapist can be a great option. Here’s the deal–you pay them to listen. You don’t have to worry about what they think of you or if you’re going to offend them. They are there so you can just let it all out.
6. Take Care of Your Basics
When we’re feeling like we can’t deal with stuff, many of us let the basics slide. We don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes we turn to junk food because we’re stressed out. We basically, don’t take care of ourselves. Yet. when you’re dealing with stressful situations that’s when you need the most self-care, and love! That’s the time to give yourself the biggest breaks!
Prioritize. Look at your schedule and think about what’s really stressing you out. Are there some social things you can eliminate? Can you say no to a party? Can you turn down an obligation? See if you can just free up some space. Then use that free time to do things that are good for YOU. Take your vitamins. Get some sleep. Eat healthy. Do all those things your mom would tell you to do for yourself.
You don’t have to feel overwhelmed all the time. Simply bite off what you can chew rather than trying to do everything at once. Simplify, simplify, simplify and cut back to the things that really matter and make us happy.
Life is short. Do the things that make you feel good and give you energy. Once you have taken care of yourself you’ll have more strength to take care of everyone else!
*Pet Peeve: the new blogging trend of using “overwhelm” as a noun–UGH! I refuse to jump on the overwhelm train.