We’ve all been there. That feeling that everything is happening all at once. It seems like it’s just too much. You might feel consumed by your thoughts. The hard part about feeling overwhelmed is that it sometimes takes a big cry or a surge of intense emotions before we realize that we need to slow down or take a break.
Redirect Your Focus.
List 1 thing that is important right now. Can you solve anything right now? If the answer is no, we might need a break. This doesn’t mean that it continues forever. Remind yourself that you’ll come back to your problem. Remind yourself that worrying will not make your worries dissipate.
If you’re fixated on one problem, shift to a different problem. This mental break gives us some perspective. It’s a form of brainstorming.
Help Someone Else.
Call someone else and ask her/him about her/his day. This doesn’t mean that you ignore your needs, but if you’ve been thinking about your problem all day, it might distract yourself from your thoughts. Not only will you be there for another person, you might feel useful and feel less powerless overall.
Imagine one of your favorite places. Here, you feel at peace. You’re reminded of the grandeur surrounding you as you visualize. Use all of your senses to imagine this place. How do the clouds and sun interact? Where are you sitting? Imagine how the ground feels and what the air smells like. With this visualization, we’re provided with a temporary escape and chances are, you won’t feel worse than before you tried this exercise.
Repeat a mantra.
Identify an affirmation and repeat it. Take 20 slow breaths. As you breathe, imagine that your body continues to relax five percent more. Feel the tension lifting from your shoulders.When we experience fear and our heart rates increase, our bodies interpret this situation as a threat, but as our heart rates decrease, our bodies inform our brains that this threat (your problem) is no longer an issue. Continue these slow breaths and repeat your mantra.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s when we’re tired, we might be more prone to worrying. Our worries might even stop us in our tracks because we’re focused on what might happen in the future. It can be overwhelming to say the least. What can you do to take care of yourself in this moment.
I’ve outlined some tips to cope with your worries.
Handle what we can right now.
Sometimes this means focusing on what we can do in the next ten minutes. When our minds are racing many miles a minute, we’ll be more at ease when we can focus on what’s in front of us.
Get into the zone.
We all have those activities that make us feel like nothing can touch us. They’re challenging, but to a point that’s just right, and we’re still able to enjoy it. Usually we become consumed by it and our friends have to pester us to stop doing it. Maybe it’s writing a poem, or going for a hike, or playing the guitar.
Sometimes we might think that if we put ourselves into a worrying stupor, that somehow our worries will go away. We often find that worrying more about it continues the spiraling of thoughts.
If you’re worried about what someone is thinking, ask the person. When we’re immersed in these thoughts, we can’t confirm them. When we ask someone what they’re thinking, we can take control of these worries and learn whether they were fact or fiction. In the case that you can’t speak to the person, remind yourself that you’re being kind and respectful. Make a list of all the qualities that you do have and soak it all up.
Yes, I’m going to say it--take a break from the internet and social media. Maybe it’s only for ten minutes, but give yourself that time away from it and to focus on what’s really meaningful to you, rather than on what others suggest is important. Ask yourself which people are there for you and what you value most.
Comparison isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s ingrained in us; it’s a survival mechanism. Comparing ourselves only becomes detrimental when we’re encompassed by it, when it hinders us and makes us overwhelmingly resentful.
We know that jealous feeling. We may consume unnecessary seconds or minutes thinking about that person on Instagram with that “perfect” body or your friend who seems like her life is wonderful. That’s the hard part about these difficult feelings, when they’re more than fleeting, when we’re swallowed by them.
So, what can we do about it?
Here are some journaling exercises to cope with feelings of jealousy. It happens to all of us and it’s normal!
What are you Avoiding?
When we're feeling jealous, we’re most likely focused on others. For some of us, we direct our attention on others because it’s easier than shedding light on ourselves. When this emotion arises, think about what are you insecure about and what it is that you want to change about yourself. Or maybe you do not actually want to change anything, but maybe it’s a question of, “What do I need to accept about myself?”
To clarify, let’s say that you’re focused on how someone has a big house and you find yourself feeling resentful. It’s totally normal. But in this case, maybe overwhelming thoughts come about--perhaps it’s a sadness that you don’t have that house. Or it could be that you’re working sixty hours a week and you feel as though you feel as though there’s nothing to show for it. Or perhaps there’s acceptance that might need to take place, that it might take longer for you to get that house or perhaps it’s that you just need to accept that you’re angry that that person has it and you don’t.
Understand your expectations
Do you expect yourself to be perfect? In what ways are you too critical on yourself? By seeking certain outcomes, from whom might you be trying to seek approval?
What recognition do you really need? Often we might want recognition from others. Why am I bringing up recognition? When we’re jealous or feeling insecure, we might really want confirmation that we are doing well or that we are working hard. In these fleeting moments of jealousy, there might be a part of us that wants that recognition that we might give others.
Are you HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY, or TIRED?
When we’re feeling resentful, maybe it’s our mental state that’s causing the raucous in our heads. We’re affected by how tired we are or the kind of week we’ve had. Reflect upon what types of situations that make you more vulnerable, and therefore more likely to experience these overwhelming feelings.
It's All Relative.
There’s always someone who’s is going to be richer, smarter, more athletic, or whatever adjective that creates jealousy for you and there’s always someone who’s going to be on the opposite end. What are some things that others don’t have? Maybe you grew up with both parents or perhaps you have a pet dog or maybe you were able to attend college.
But the point of it is, what will help you gain perspective? Is it volunteering at a neighborhood thirty minutes away from you, where there’s more crime? Or the better question is, what is it that you have gained over the course of your lifetime? How can you compare yourself to you from one year ago? What is different? What have you learned?
Have you ever thought to yourself, “What if I say something stupid?”
It can be overwhelming to interact with others, especially when it’s around a large group of people. Maybe you are concerned how others may judge you in social situations. Perhaps you avoid situations because you anticipate the anxiety that you might encounter.
If you have found that your social anxiety has negatively impacted your life, please seek a mental health professional.
Here are 3 tips for overcoming social anxiety:
Set limits for yourself
Try not to do too much at once. Set the expectation with yourself and others that you will only “stop by” to a party or to an event. We’re letting ourselves know that we can tolerate the anxiety once we go. By attending this event, we are challenging ourselves. This statement sets the tone that you will show up, but eases the pressure on you to say for an extended period of time. Make a pact with yourself to show up for a set amount of time. Let’s say that you show up for 20 minutes or an hour. That’s a step and congratulate yourself for accomplishing it!
Remind yourself that others also share the same worries
It’s something that a lot of people struggle with and don’t necessarily share. But I want you to know that you are not alone and that others also worry about how they are perceived by others.
You are unique!
Your friends and family value you for who you are. Remind yourself that bring qualities to the room and that others appreciate your presence.
Why is it helpful?
I get it. It's difficult to let go of a difficult situation. We want to know what will happen, how it will all look, how we'll feel. For all of us anxious people (myself included), certainty provides us with a sense of comfort.
But from what I've learned, letting go means becoming comfortable with the discomfort.
It is just that. Uncomfortable. And if we can be certain about one thing--it's that everything always changes. Even happiness and pain. It's all temporary.
So what does this all mean?
Yes, we can still make plans. And they're important and necessary. But the key is that we won't know how the future will unfold down to the specific details. Instead of seeking for knowing what will happen, I've started relying on being open and trusting my instincts.
And how can we cope with all this?
Similarly, we can try our best, but we cannot control if we make mistakes. Recognizing what we can control may assist us with letting go. We can control how we respond to the situations that are presented to us. We can focus on how we manage and acknowledge our emotions.
The act of expressing what we need is a way of taking responsibility. Even if the outcome isn't what we expect and we can't control how others respond, sharing our thoughts with others is a way of taking care of ourselves and regaining a sense of control.
Self-Care as a flexible recipe:
I used to get annoyed by "self-care" because it's an overused term and it sometimes suggests that "self-care" is a magic fix. Reframing self-care as something that's unique to each person, I've learned to embrace it.
For me, self-care is a flexible recipe. When I need time alone, I'll add in more physical activity. Other times, I'll need more time with friends. Sometimes it's an action step--like driving to the store to get my favorite sugar scrub or candle.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about "self-care":
1. What types of activities do I find energizing or draining?
2. Do I feel more relaxed when I've met with a large group of friends or met with someone one-on-one?
3. What work activities maintain or drain my energy?
4. Do I gain more energy after a meeting at work?
5. Do I feel better after I've spent time alone in my office?
6. How often do you generally spend engaging in enjoyable activities?
7. What are some things that you would like to spend less time doing?
8. Do you find it more manageable when you answer emails all throughout the day or during scheduled time frames?
taking care of Your emotions
Self-care also includes paying attention to our emotions. Even if it's uncomfortable, the ability to identify our emotions helps us catch them before they get bigger. What I mean by this: have you ever gotten really upset about something that seemed silly to someone else? I have! But what I have learned is that surge of anger may have been related to a lot of things piling up over time.
Do you ever feel like emotions are warning signs?
I used to ignore my emotions and pretend to be happy non-stop.
What I've learned is that emotions indicate that we need to pay attention.
Feelings aren't facts, but emotions let us know if we need to set limits.
For example, when I'm feeling irritable, I ask myself if I need to take a step away from the situation.
What do emotions tell you?
Here's an exercise for paying attention to our feelings:
Take 2 minutes to...
OBSERVE what's in front of you.
DESCRIBE in words what you see, feel, and hear.
ENGAGE in your experience and feel it fully.
What do you notice right now? What feelings are you experiencing? What thoughts arise?
WHAT'S PART OF YOUR SELF-CARE RECIPE?!
Radical acceptance means accepting the facts of the situation without changing it. Resisting our circumstances can lead to additional suffering.
For example, we might be frustrated that we have to show up to work when we're sick. Acknowledging that it's a difficult situation validates our situation rather than creating more inner turmoil. When we accept our situation, even if it's uncomfortable, we are better able to cope with it. How can you accept the facts of the situation without changing it?
WE ARE ALLOWED TO FEEL WHAT WE'RE FEELING
Sometimes it's hard to slow down and to feel what we're feeling. We might invalidate ourselves because we think that others might have a tougher situation. While this might be true, you're still entitled to feel what you're feeling. Someone might have a difficult situation AND you are feeling what you're feeling.
What you're feeling doesn't take away from who you are as a person. It doesn't mean that you're not working hard. They're just feelings. They come and go.
HOW DO YOU VALIDATE YOUR FEELINGS?
We're less likely to worry about the future when we're engaging our senses.
STRESS MANAGEMENT: DE-STRESS WITH GROUNDING EXERCISES
How to do it:
Name 5 things using each of your senses
Focusing on the senses helps alleviate our stress.
Grounding exercises are also a great tool for managing trauma, hypervigilence, anxiety, or panic attacks.
Before I used to get to a 5 (the highest stress level: see #1) and not know what to do. I'd be consumed by frustration. Now I can identify when I'm at a 3 and when I'm starting to get irritated. I acknowledge what annoyed me (#2) and ask myself what I need to cope with the irritation. When I can't talk to someone about it, journal, or listen to music (#3), I usually find a way to stretch or take 8 deep breaths.
1. Identify your stress level on a 1-5 scale.
2. What triggers your stress?
3. How can you let it out?
4. What do you need?
5. Remind yourself of what you did well today!
I tend to break up my self-care routine over the course of the day.
Morning: I go to the gym. This way I don't have to worry about going later.
Afternoon: I tend to get overwhelmed during the day. In between clients, I take a couple minutes to journal and/or practice breathing exercises. It helps me refocus and be better able to be present with my clients.
Night: Sometimes I have trouble sleeping so I generally meditate before I go to bed.
What do you want to add or subtract from your daily schedule? Which activities are draining or invigorating?
What's included in your daily routine? Which activities do you find invigorating? Maybe these could be a part of a morning ritual. At what times of the day do you feel the most stressed? Maybe that's when you add in one of those activities.
5 ways to cope with our worries
1. Make a worry box. Write down all your worries-- things that are on your to-do list and place these concerns in a box before you go to bed.
2. I tell yourself, "It's okay to be worried. We don't have to fix it right now."
3. Write it down on your to-do list to worry about it later.
4. Journal about it and learn about what's underlying that worry. Bringing in some self-awareness...
When do you know that you have to face unresolved business? Maybe it's acting in ways that you don't normally act
Does it show up through your insecurities?
Perhaps you're feeling more stressed than you usually are?
Do you experience more negative thoughts?
5. Talk to a friend. I have to ask others for advice or tell friends that I want to vent.
This contrasts professional relationships or networking with others, where advice can be helpful.
How do you set boundaries with others? What makes it hard to speak your mind? If it's not hard for you to set boundaries, what do you do that makes it easier?
Tap into what you love
What makes you feel rejuvenated? Is there a way where you could add in time in your schedule to go there? Let's face it. We've got schedules that are jam-packed. Let's make it possible to get there or find somewhere in the middle. Maybe it's somewhere that's 10 minutes away as opposed to 2 hours away. Where's that place for you?