Life can get overwhelming. When it does, it can cause you to panic and feel like there is no escape. I have felt this myself in recent months while starting up my business. Life can also get overwhelming when you feel you have no control. This can get you down, leading to feelings of loneliness or of being stuck. I want to share with you some tips that I have uncovered over the years that provide the self-care I need to help me overcome these overwhelming feelings.
Tip 1: Journaling Your Thoughts and Feelings
A lot of things happen in the mind when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. You feel you can’t see anything clearly, there are too many things you need to do and it’s all a bit of a mess. What really helps me is when I journal. Getting everything that is in my head onto paper. What happens when I get overwhelmed is that I have so many feelings that I actually don’t know what they are and why I am feeling them.
So the first thing I ask myself is:
What am I feeling?
So are you really thinking about what’s going through your head and what you are feeling? This could be guilt, responsibility, stress, or sadness. So many things can come up when you become overwhelmed. I try to attach an emotion to why I am feeling this way. So if it is sadness, why am I feeling sad? Really question yourself on this. Further emotions may come up while you are writing them down. It’s important to go through these feelings and really feel them. If you push them away, they will come back up and you won’t be able to let them go. So if you’re sad, you might dig down to the core reason and you might cry, and it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to let these feelings out. Process these emotions and start to let them go. I do this by asking myself:
What can I do to let these feelings go?
What is the reality right now and how can I use this to make myself feel better?
Usually, I try to put the situation into perspective, and think to myself, is it really that stressful? Do I need to react this way or can I do something about it? Can I take action on this? Is there someone I can talk to? And if you can’t then what is the worst-case scenario? Usually, the reality is never that bad, our thoughts take us to the absolute worst situation.
Tip 2: Positive Affirmations
Some of you may know what this is, and some of you may not. To me, positive affirmations are something positive I say to myself in the mirror or write down in my journal. It can be things like:
I AM CAPABLE
I AM POWERFUL
THIS GETS TO BE EASY
I CAN DO THIS
I AM LOVED
I know this sounds silly and some people may say ‘oh this won’t help’ but if you take time out of your day to do this, maybe when your family/ housemates/ partner go out or you are able to close a door and be alone, you will begin to feel empowered. Being overwhelmed can come with a lot of self-doubts or lack of confidence and it’s important to change the way you think about yourself to overcome this feeling.
If you look back on what you have already accomplished in your life, you may be able to see your capabilities. It’s just reminding yourself that you can do this, you are more than capable of doing this. If you repeat these affirmations to yourself consistently you will start to shift your state from being overwhelmed to powerful. You need to want to do this, if you’re mumbling to yourself in the mirror a couple of times, this won’t work. You need to really feel and believe the words you’re saying to yourself. You might feel silly the first couple of times you do it, but the more you repeat this exercise, the more powerful you can become.
Tip 3: Setting Boundaries
This can be setting boundaries within yourself (what you will or will not accept) but also with other people. You may have promised to do something for someone, but you actually don’t want to do it. You realise you are only doing it to make that person happy, and it ends up getting you into a mindset that you don’t want to be in. So it’s really important to actually put yourself first and look out for you. This could be saying no to an event that you don’t want to go to or communicating with someone and being honest with them.
You don’t need to be rude and you also don’t need to apologise because it’s for you, it’s putting you first. Friends will understand why you have put in that boundary. Of course, there are situations where it could be quite challenging to set that boundary, it could be someone quite close to you and you worry they might become upset. It’s all about small steps and being honest and clear to someone. This could be something that you journal. Write down what you’re going to say and go through the feelings.
At the end of the day, if someone reacts badly to you being honest to them, that is something they need to work on. It might seem scary but once you start doing this you’ll start to feel a relief you have never felt before.
Tip 4: Meditating
Many people recommend meditating. Likewise, many people think it seems a bit wishy-washy. However, the most important thing when your thoughts are out of control is to clear them. Thoughts are usually from the past or future, thinking about past traumas or events or looking at the future and predicting what’s going to happen before it even happens. These are thoughts that are out of your control. It’s either already happened and it’s over or you have no idea how the event will actually end.
Meditating is returning yourself back to the present, thinking of right now and clearing your thoughts. You aren’t going to start off being this person who can meditate for 10 minutes straight and not have any thoughts come into your mind. You will need to start off slow and practice. I recommend a guided meditation (like the Calm, Glo or Headspace apps) to start off with. And again, the more you do it, the more benefits you will see.
Tip 5: Surround Yourself With The Right People
Now, this does come with setting boundaries and putting yourself first. When you surround yourself with the right people, you will notice the feelings of guilt, responsibility and people-pleasing start to fade because you don’t feel an obligation to put them first. These people are understanding and are supporting you to be your best self. If you have someone in your life that is pushing you, supporting you and telling you that you are more than capable, that makes such a difference in shifting you towards a positive mindset.
If you have someone in your life that is questioning what you’re doing in a negative way and putting you down, this could start to plant seeds of self-doubt in your head. These people are projecting their own fears and triggers onto you. Small negative comments could start to impact you on a deeper level. The first step is being aware of these people. Even in situations where you can’t control the negativity (maybe drama in your workplace) try to make an effort to not be involved. Make sure you focus on your needs (with journaling, or positive affirmations) and start to build that confidence within yourself.
If you would like a bit more information about getting away from the drama, I’ve actually wrote a dedicated blog on this topic. You can read it here.
Tip 6: Set Up a Routine That Suits You
I believe everyone should have a daily routine. Everyone is different though, so there is no ‘one routine fits all’. We see some people with amazing morning routines, spending two hours every day setting up their schedules for the day ahead. Likewise, I have friends who prefer to have an evening routine, and allow themselves a couple of hours every night to unwind and meditate before they go to bed. If this works for them and benefits them, that’s great, but not everyone can live up to or dedicate that sort of time for this. I understand and feel the same myself.
The key is to simply try and be more aware of how you are spending your time. Think about how you could find time during the day to allocate to focusing on yourself. It could be 10, 20 or 30 minutes a day, however it’s important that during this time you only focus on yourself. This is where you can put the tips I’ve spoken about above into place. You might spend time journaling, saying positive affirmations or think about how you are setting boundaries. The more you practise taking time out of your daily schedule, and become aware and recognise how you’re reacting to things, the easier it will be to change your mindset and cope better with the overwhelm. Even if you can only take some time at the weekend, that’s a start.
Setting up a routine does take discipline and it does take effort to do this. You need keep in mind your end goal… feeling less overwhelmed. So have a think. How can you dedicate some time this week to focusing on yourself? But most importantly, make sure that it suits and works for you so that you can stick to it. Everyone is in a different stage of their life and has different priorities so work around what’s best for you right now!
Looking back on these 6 tips you can see a common theme… putting yourself first! You can’t be the best version of yourself if you are putting everything and everyone before you. I hope this gets you thinking about what you need to do now for yourself.
If you also notice you are becoming quite agitated, one reason could be because you’re having a lot of stimulants during the day! If this feels like you, check out my post about why I stopped drinking coffee.