Life can get overwhelming. With the daily grind of everyday life on top of worldwide stressors, things can feel too much. It’s important that when feeling overwhelmed with life, you take proactive steps to relieve stress, instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Here are some effective strategies.
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When Feeling Overwhelmed With Life
1 – Remember If You are Feeling Overwhelmed In Life, There Is a Reason
If it feels too much, it is too much. Do not downplay how you feel or ignore your feelings. I know quite a few people who feel as though they are overwhelmed because they are flawed in some way. That they should be able to handle everything. That they should suck it up and deal with it because that’s just how it is. This is absolutely false. Do not push your feelings aside. Emotions are clues to know when something needs to change. Feeling overwhelmed is a clue, not a way of life. If you are stressed and dealing with too much, realize you have to do something about it.
2 – Walk Away
It’s okay to walk away when feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to handle things right away. Sometimes it’s good to get away from it and come back later. Say to yourself, “I don’t have to handle this right now, I’ll handle it later.” Give yourself a specific time to come back to it. It can be tomorrow, next week, even in an hour. Then re-tackle your issues at that time.
When you walk away, make sure you do not obsess about your stressors. Do something relaxing to clear your mind or fun to get your mind off of things.
3 – Set Boundaries
You are feeling overwhelmed with life for a reason. Perhaps you have too much on your plate and trying to handle too many things at once. Maybe others are asking too much of you and your life is out of balance. If so, then make sure you set and maintain boundaries. Stop saying “yes” to everything and use “no” more often. Get used to letting others down and avoid being a people pleaser. To set boundaries, first think about things that frustrate you. What stresses you out? These are clues to where you need to set boundaries. If a certain person adds to your feeling of being overwhelmed, for example, then you should set some sort of boundary with them.
Once you’ve determined where you should set boundaries in your life, write out a clear and precise statement for each boundary. For example, you could write, I will no longer spend my Saturday morning’s doing favors for such and such. Or I will no longer stay late after work. These boundaries can be for you or others. Either way, set boundaries and keep them to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
4 – Use Breathing Strategies
Effective Breathing Strategies are particularly useful when you are feeling overly stressed in the moment or during an emotional crisis. For example, if you just received some bad news, or you found out something didn’t go your way. In cases such as these, it’s important to be able to calm yourself quickly and controlling your breathing is an excellent way to do this. Here are two breathing techniques I use to calm myself down.
Equal Breathing Technique
In the Equal Breathing Technique, you inhale the same duration that you exhale. Start by closing your eyes and breathing in through your nose for four seconds. Then exhale through your mouth for four seconds. You can change up the duration, just as long as your inhale and exhale are the same. Do this for as long as necessary.
Alternative Nostril Breathing Technique
Start by resting your left hand in your lap. Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath through your nostrils. Before you inhale again through your nose, close your right nostril with your right thumb, then inhale. At the top of your breath, use your right index finger to close your left nostril so your nose is entirely held shut. Hold this position for a beat, then release your right thumb and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale again through your right nostril and at the top of your breathe close that nostril with your right thumb again. Hold for a beat, release your right index finger and exhale through your left nostril. I know this sounds complicated but as you practice it will become natural. Do this for as many times as you need.
5 – Focus On Self-Care
When feeling overwhelmed with life, it could be that you are not giving enough attention to self-care. Self-care is an important part of feeling happy, fulfilled, and balanced. Every week, you should have something on your calendar just for you. Do something that you love or something that relaxes you. Keep in mind that self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant. Although small trips, or hitting the spa are perfectly good ways to practice self-care, you can also do simple things like go for a walk, take a bath, or read a book. Here are more ways to practice self-care.
6 – When Feeling Overwhelmed With Life, Change Your Focus
When things seem to be too much to handle, we tend to focus on our problems and issues. In many cases, it can be ALL we think about. In the past when I felt overwhelmed, I would get tunnel vision and couldn’t see anything other than what was causing my stress. We have to get away from this habit, and you can do so by deliberately changing your focus. Here are two ways to do this:
Take Some Time To Be Grateful
Take a moment to focus on the good that you have in your life. Be thankful for your family, your ability to pay your bills, your health etc. You can sit quietly and reflect on these things, or you can sit and write in a gratitude journal. In either case, it’s a great way to change your focus.
Stay Busy With An Activity
Get involved in an activity that takes up all your time, energy, and focus. Is there a hobby you have been interested in trying? If so, go for it. Put together a complicated puzzle. If you are you creative, spend some time painting. Whatever it is, do an activity that requires your full attention and energy.
7 – Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is living in the moment. It’s not thinking about what needs to happen later, or what happened earlier, it’s what is happening now. Stop overthinking by bringing yourself to the present moment. A great way to do this is to use your senses. What sounds do you hear? What colors do you see? If you are objects near, how do they feel? What smells do you smell? When I find myself extremely stressed out and I’m having trouble getting out of my own head I focus on things around me. I stare at my kids, yes I probably freak them out. Sometimes I’ll sit on the porch and notice the wind on my face, or I’ll look at my lawn. Other times I’ll go for a walk and just focus on the nature around me. This is my own way of bringing myself to the moment. You can do anything that does the same for you.
8 – When Feeling Overwhelmed With Life Talk To Someone
When you are feeling overwhelmed in life, reach out to people who are supportive. It’s extremely important, however, that you DO NOT complain and gossip, and only talk to people who are 100% there for you. If you have the means, talk to a professional. This can be a therapist or even a life coach. They have the training and tools to help you better manage your life and issues. Just being able to express your emotions and things that are causing you to feel overwhelmed, will be a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders. It’s easy to sometimes feel we have to deal with things alone. Keeping things in is unhealthy. I had a major issue with this and I still struggle from time to time. You don’t have do be alone in your struggles. Talk to others and I guarantee that you will feel better and less overwhelmed.
9 – Realize You Have Nothing To Prove
Many of us take on too much because we feel we have to make up for something. Maybe we feel guilt that we aren’t doing as much as others. Maybe we feel the only way to be valuable is to do anything and everything for others. Whatever the case, realize you have nothing to prove. You are good enough just the way you are. You don’t have to take on more, or be afraid of disappointing others.
Take a look at all the things you are doing in life. Whether it is favors for family and friends, or going out of your way at work, take a mental note of everything. Then be honest with yourself and ask yourself “why” you are doing these things. If you are doing something unnecessary that adds stress to your life, then cut it out. You have nothing to prove.
When feeling overwhelmed with life, it is important that you be proactive in making a change. There is a reason why you feel overwhelmed so don’t ignore it. Walk away if you have to and set boundaries to keep others from taking advantage of you. If you need to calm yourself quickly use the breathing strategies I suggested. Also, remember to focus on self-care and focus your energy on the positive instead of obsessing about things that aren’t going right. Make sure you practice mindfulness when needed, talk to someone, and realize you have nothing to prove.