Five Ways to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed

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Life can be a balancing act. When one area is off balance, it impacts every other area in our lives. For instance, when we don’t get enough sleep, things that were once straightforward can very quickly become unnerving. It can be challenging to hold it all together when we are pulled in multiple directions.

If things feel unbalanced in several areas of our life, our mindset and perspective can become clouded. In these states, it can be difficult to find the best way to get back on track to living a balanced, joyful way of life.

These are the five powerful practices I go to when I feel overwhelmed. I find that when I take a step back and practice one of these approaches, I end up feeling happier, more confident and more productive. The things that seemed impossible or hard, begin flowing with more ease. Better yet, I reach my desired outcome without falling apart.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, check in to see if any of these practices may be a right fit for you.

1) Listen

If you were to give yourself 30 seconds to check in on the story running through your mind, what would it sound like? When things feel overwhelming, we are more than likely intensifying this way of being through the stories we are telling ourselves about everything we don’t want. Opening up to the idea that we have some say in how we craft our story, is a powerful beginning to create the space for a new narrative.

When we give ourselves the gift of listening to our inner dialogue from an observer role, we are often given very important information about the tone and tenor of our thoughts and stories. We can then make a conscious choice to start telling a new story by tipping the scales from what we don’t want, to what we do want.

Getting into the practice of self-awareness and self-reflection is an incredibly powerful way to help you get back on track when things veer off. Listening to your inner voice, and trusting the wisdom you already have is an amazing way to help you get into the driver’s seat of your life. Your inner wisdom will always steer you back to the place that feels right for you.

2) Look

What are you focused on? Instead of agonizing over what is hard and wrong in your life, see what happens when you look for the evidence of what is going well in your life. There is always something that is going right that we can be thankful for. The fact that we all received the gift of waking up today is a start. These pieces of evidence of the things that are good in life don’t have to be big things, they can be small clues and hints that life doesn’t have to feel so hard.

When we start scanning our world for the good, we will see it every time. Our minds are incredibly powerful. Much like if you decided you really wanted a new red car, there is a good chance over the following days and weeks you are going to start noticing more shiny red cars out on the road. This isn’t because there are more shiny red cars out on the road, it is because you put your focus on it. Our focus is powerful — use it as a tool to see the good in the situations before you.

3) Act

Act in the direction of what you do want, not what you don’t want. If you are feeling overwhelmed by having too much to do, move your attention and intention away from the big overwhelming picture. Unpack the giant story by breaking it down into smaller more manageable steps and pieces.

Prioritize these steps and create a couple of lists for yourself. Create one list of tasks that are attainable for the day, and another list of tasks that are realistic for the week. There can be a great feeling of accomplishment as we get things done, especially if we give ourselves the gift of acknowledging that we are in process and moving forward. I love the saying, “all you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.” Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fit everything in. Whatever you do is enough, just remember there is power in doing. Small steps forward pack a mighty punch if they are done with consistency and regularity.

4) Allow

Is there room to ease up on your approach to life? When we give ourselves permission to loosen our grip on life a little, it is amazing to see how things have a way of naturally falling into place.

Think about the strain and stress of constantly swimming upstream, or pushing against the current of a fast flowing river. Then consider how much easier and fun it is when we allow the natural flow and current of the river to move us. There is nothing to do but relax and enjoy the ride.

When things feel like they aren’t lining up in your day, or if you are met with disappointment after disappointment, see what happens when you open up to the idea that things do eventually have a way of working themselves out. Life is constantly flowing and moving. Nothing lasts forever, not even the hard times that feel really hard in the moment. Recognizing that things will either eventually come together or pass, helps us to see that we can take a deep breath and just allow life to unfold. Traveling with the flow of life’s current, makes the ride much more enjoyable.

5) Rest

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. When we take care of our basic needs, everything becomes so much easier to deal with. If you find yourself overwhelmed, overworked and can’t remember the last time you had a break or a good night’s sleep — start here. Get some rest, and take a few mini-breaks throughout the day to recharge. Expecting that we can move mountains without taking the time to catch our breath is not very realistic. Recharging our batteries on a consistent basis makes it more likely that we will be in better spirits to tackle whatever is before us. When we take care of ourselves, life’s ups and downs won’t feel quite so bumpy. When we feel rested and recharged, it becomes more natural to love the lives we are in, regardless of what is before us.

Remember, enjoying the journey of life is what it is all about.

Emily Madill is the author of 11 books in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. Her newest title ‘Fall in Love with Your Life, One Week at a Time’ is now being offered as an E-Course.

Photo by Yasunori Kosaka

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