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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Get Your Life Together When You Feel Overwhelmed

How to Get Your Life Together When You Feel Overwhelmed
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I’ve been there, wondering how to get my life together. There is no denying how overwhelmed we all are amidst global pandemics, natural disasters, political challenges, economic downturns, family drama, and work deadlines. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands, jump in bed, and pull the covers over their head until 2030. Yet, every storm has an end, and you are strong enough to weather it.

When you are overwhelmed, you feel like things are too much to deal with. Put simply, there is an all-consuming sentiment that emotions are just too strong. Overwhelm can be situational or general.

Situational overwhelm is linked to a particular set of circumstances, like when there is a big project due at work, but you are not sure if it will go well and your promotion is hanging in the balance. General overwhelm is linked to the everyday pressures of showing up for yourself and others. Regardless of which type of overwhelm you encounter, it can be a truly challenging ordeal.

Everyone gets overwhelmed from time to time, but overwhelm doesn’t have to upend your progress or thrust you into a downward spiral. In order to help you navigate these treacherous waters, here are some tips to help you get your life back together when you feel totally overwhelmed.[1]

1. Slow It Down

The first thing you need to do when you feel flooded or overwhelmed is to slow everything down. The sensation you are feeling is like an alarm. Your body and spirit are trying to bring your awareness to something important, and now they have your attention. In order to process the data you are being given and assess what is happening, you have to slow everything down.

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The breath is your best tool for slowing it down. The power of your breath is incredible. Since the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems are connected, any intentional manipulation of the breath is going to directly effect your blood pressure and emotional state[2].

Doing something as simple as taking a moment to take three slow deep breaths when you are in the throws of overwhelm can start to slow everything down. You can check out some other simple stress-relieving techniques in the video below:

When you give yourself permission to slow down your thinking, it is as if you have put the brakes on. You are forcing yourself to be present for what you are feeling and thinking in the moment.

The experience of overwhelm can feel very chaotic and out of control, but when you slow it down, you are reclaiming control over the experience[3]. Lean on the people in your life who care about you, and talk through your problems. This will help you step back and slow down.

2. Step Back, Reflect, and Reframe

If you’re wondering how to get your life together, it’s time to step back and reflect on what led up to the overwhelm. Some good questions to ask yourself are:

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  • Did I put too much on my plate? If so, who can help me? What can I set aside for now?
  • Am I prepared enough? If not, what else can I do to prepare? Is there anything getting in the way of my preparation?
  • Were there signs I ignored that would have kept me from getting to this point?
  • Is there any self-sabotage at play?
  • What is the single most important thing I can do right now that will move me towards my long-term goal and personal development?

Reflecting is great because it helps you to sort through the data you received from being overwhelmed. Taking the time to decipher this data will also help you to better understand what your body is trying to tell you in the future if you experience these sensations again.

Reflective journaling is especially helpful. It involves thinking of an experience, interpreting what happened, and analyzing lessons learned from it[4].

Try reflective journaling when you want to know how to get your life together

    Having a frame of reference for overwhelm ahead of time is invaluable. Instead of it feeling like a chaotic incoming tornado siren, it will feel more like a monotone, preventative, early warning system.

    Reframing happens when you have collected, processed, and reflected on the data and can now place the experience in a new perspective.

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    For example, when I failed the bar, I thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I was overwhelmed by the thought that I had wasted $140,000 in loans and would not be able to pay my bills, get a job, or create the life I always wanted. My body felt sick, weak, and tired, and my mind was heavy with all manner of negative thought patterns. I didn’t know what I needed to do to get my life together.

    Yet, when I gave myself permission to slow it down, step back, and reflect, I realized that I would have hated being a lawyer. It took a while, but I was able to reframe that experience as a blessing that allowed me to identify my true calling – helping others achieve the success they truly desire.

    If you’ve experienced a negative set of events recently, focus on your short-term goals and the small steps you can take to put your life back together. Over time, living your life will get easier through personal growth and improved physical and mental health.

    3. Release, Regroup, and Redirect

    Release

    It’s easier said than done, but when it comes to overwhelm the best thing you can do is let it go. Your effort to slow down, step back, reflect, and reframe have made it a lot easier for you to release the cause of your overwhelm.

    Once I gave myself permission to reframe failing the bar, I was able to release it without any regrets. The release of the source of overwhelm is critical to the “getting my life back together” component of this process.

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    Regroup

    In order to truly get your life back together, you have to regroup and redirect. The overwhelm put a chink in your chain, which halted your progress. Now that the chink has been worked out, you can place your chain back on the cogs and get back to work.

    Regrouping is important because it allows you to close the feedback loop on all the slowing down, stepping back, reflecting, reframing, and releasing. It is like a metaphorical period on the sentence of the lived experience. It allows you to hit the reset button, and with all you know now, you can move forward in an informed, prepared, and empowered manner.

    Redirect

    The last act is to redirect. Thankfully, all the work you have done leading up to this moment will make it much easier for you to identify your new trajectory. Remember that redirecting doesn’t mean you must move in a radically new direction; even if your trajectory only slightly altered its course, that’s ok!

    What is most important is that you have processed, integrated, and learned from your overwhelm so that you are both better prepared for future overwhelm and more equipped to avoid it all together.

    Final Thoughts

    We have all been overwhelmed and wondering how to get our lives together. However, your progress doesn’t need to be completely compromised because life throws you problematic situations or toxic people. You are strong enough to overcome it and get your life back on track.

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    When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to slow it down by using your breath. Give yourself permission to step back and reflect on what led up to the feeling of overwhelm because there is valuable data there. Reclaim your power by reframing the experience and releasing the source of overwhelm.

    More Tips on Getting Your Life Together

    Featured photo credit: Francisco Moreno via unsplash.com

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    Awilda Rivera

    Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

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    Published on June 11, 2021

    What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

    What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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    Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

    This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

    • What is well-being?
    • How is it measured?
    • How is it improved?

    What Is Well-Being?

    Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

    It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

    When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

    Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

    How Is Well-Being Measured?

    Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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    Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

    Objective Well-Being

    Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

    The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

    1. Health
    2. Job opportunities
    3. Socioeconomic development
    4. Politics
    5. Safety
    6. Environment

    Subjective Well-Being

    Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

    Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

    In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

    In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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    There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

    1. Genetic factors
    2. Basic and psychological needs
    3. Social environment
    4. Economics and income
    5. Political environment

    How to Improve Well-Being

    There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

    The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

    Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

    1. Spend Time in Nature

    There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

    One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

    2. Practice Gratitude

    Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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    One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

    As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

    3. Develop Increased Awareness

    Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

    Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

    4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

    An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

    • Work-related pressure or demands
    • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
    • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
    • Shift work
    • Longer workday length

    Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

    Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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    • Performance at work
    • Coping with stress and self-regulation
    • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
    • Immune system functioning
    • And physical and psychological health

    Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

    5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

    Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

    Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

    6. Stay Hopeful

    Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

    Hope is associated with an increase in:

    • Emotional adjustment
    • Positive feelings
    • Life satisfaction and quality of life
    • Social support
    • A sense of purpose

    Takeaways

    Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

    To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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    There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

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    Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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