Life can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. You may have work, school, bills, responsibilities at home, interpersonal relationships, and maybe children and a spouse. You work hard, study hard, and socialize hard and the next thing you know, you’re feeling burnt out. But how do you know what to do when feeling overwhelmed with life? How do you de-stress and find your happiness again? Stop, take a deep breath, and look at seven simple things you can start doing today to calm your inner storm and get back on track toward a happier life.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of life and the never-ending to-do list. Before you know it, you’ve used up all your energy, and you’re completely exhausted. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the first steps you can take to rejuvenate yourself is to step away from the task at hand and break from things stressing you out or draining your energy.
Taking a break doesn’t mean quitting your job, walking away from your studies, or neglecting your responsibilities. Sometimes, something as simple as a 10-minute walk outdoors, paired with several deep breaths, can be enough to give you a fresh perspective on things. When you return to what you were doing, you’ll have a clearer head and will be better able to tackle what’s in front of you.
A bonus of walking is that it can help you avoid mindless or stress-related snacking. Harvard reports that a 15-minute walk can help curb cravings for chocolate and a variety of sugary snacks, which are known to reduce your body’s ability to deal with stress.
When you feel overwhelmed with life, take a moment to ask for the help you need. We are all human, and we can’t always do everything on our own. So when you face challenges in life, rather than trying to push through on your own, take this moment as an opportunity to reach out and get the support you need.
It’s essential to be specific when asking for help instead of expecting others to be mind readers. If your support network doesn’t know exactly what they can do for you, they may not be able to offer much help at all. For example, if you need help from your spouse to prepare dinner, ask them, “Would you please cook dinner tonight? That would help me out.”
At times, getting an extra helping hand might not be enough to alleviate the overwhelming feelings you might experience. At these times, consider reaching out to a professional such as a therapist who will listen without judging or criticizing. Your therapist will ask you questions to help you get to the root of the feelings and discover solutions.
When you feel overwhelmed with life, you can also look for support groups of people with shared experiences. Whether you’re suffering from everyday chores or struggling with negative thoughts, you can find these groups online and offline and get the support you need.
When things get tough, it’s easy to become consumed by the needs of others. You may even feel guilty for taking time for yourself. After all, isn’t it selfish to put yourself ahead of your loved ones?
It’s important to remember that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. It’s the idea of putting on your oxygen mask first to attend to the needs of the people you love.
Keep in mind that self-care looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t always mean bubble baths and glasses of wine. Although those things can be enjoyable, they can also be quick “bandages” for more significant problems that cannot be resolved with even the finest chardonnay.
Instead, self-care is about taking care of yourself before you start to feel burned out or exhausted. It’s about making sure that your mental health is as strong as possible so you can take on what life throws at you. It’s about making sure you’re getting enough rest, so you have the energy to take care of others. It might sometimes mean doing more complex things like eliminating toxic relationships, evaluating whether a job is right for you, or choosing to surround yourself with only positivity.
While it may be tempting to try and tackle multiple things at once to get them done faster, this can have the opposite effect. When your mind is focused on several things simultaneously, it becomes difficult for you to focus on any one thing. You become distracted quickly and may even forget what you were doing in the first place.
Instead, try to focus on one thing at a time. For example, if you need to cook dinner, don’t start thinking about what needs to be done before you go to bed or how tired you will be when you finish cooking.
Instead, focus on the task before you and only think about how much fun (and delicious) it will be when everything is finished. By staying present in the moment, you can find joy even in the most mundane tasks — and avoid feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to get done.
Take care of yourself physically as well as emotionally and mentally. This means eating well, exercising regularly, and carving out downtime for yourself. Exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing endorphins, natural mood enhancers that boost your sense of well-being. It also helps distract you from negative thoughts and feelings, which can help improve your mood.
The key is to find an activity that interests you so that exercising becomes something positive instead of an effort to get through each day. Whether running, yoga, swimming, or weight lifting, a suitable activity can take your mind off your troubles.
Food is also a powerful medicine when you’re feeling overwhelmed with life. By filling your diet with whole foods and limiting processed and sugary foods, you can nourish your body with the proper nutrients and give it the fuel it needs to get through life.
Find new sources of pleasure in life by rediscovering old hobbies or finding new ones that bring you joy. These hobbies can provide a sense of purpose and happiness and help relieve stress.
For example, if you have always loved to knit but haven’t done so in years, try picking up your needles again! You might even find that knitting is an excellent outlet for stress relief because it gives both hands something productive to do while allowing your mind to focus on something other than your stressors.
The same is true of any activity that gets you out of your head, such as rock climbing, hiking, painting, or dancing. The point is to find activities that allow you to set aside your sense of overwhelm and find a sense of peace.
Life can be a roller coaster of emotions, causing you to feel upbeat and ambitious one day and ready to throw in the towel the next. We all have those times when we feel overwhelmed with everything going on in our lives. When that happens, take some time to yourself, and try these coping mechanisms to see how each helps lift your spirits, get you through the day, and ultimately feel better prepared to deal with life’s stressors.