Advertising
Advertising

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

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    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

    Reference

    More by this author

    Awilda Rivera

    Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

    6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now 4 Types of Negative Self-Talk to Stop Right Now How to Gain Self-Knowledge and Live up to Your Potential What Is Wrong With Me? 3 Ways to Figure Out Life Again

    Trending in Life Balance

    1 How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today 2 How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better 3 13 Ways to Seize the Moment and Enjoy Life More 4 5 Reasons to Live in the Moment and Stop Planning Too Much 5 7 Reasons Why You’re Feeling Restless and Unmotivated

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 25, 2021

    How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

    How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

    As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

    We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

    We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

    But what does it really mean to live your best life?

    You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

    What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

    While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

    Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

    For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

    These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

    Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

    We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

    Start the Journey

    What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

    1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

    To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

    Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

    Advertising

    Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

    For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

    So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

    2. Observe Yourself

    To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

    Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

    Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

    3. Identify Your Bad Habits

    As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

    Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

    That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

    That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

    Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

    At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

    Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

    4. Set Intentions

    After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

    One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

    Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

    A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

    The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

    Advertising

    For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

    Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

    If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

    Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

    For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

    Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

    5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

    Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

    It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

    To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

    For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

    • What will you wear?
    • How do you get there?
    • What time of day do you go?
    • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
    • How do you feel afterward?

    Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

    10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

    Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

    1. Focus

    Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

    Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

    “Winners focus, losers spray.”

    2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

    Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

    However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

    3. Live in the Present

    Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

    Advertising

    We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

    How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

    We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

    Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

    Action will.

    4. Declutter

    This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

    If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

    This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

    Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

    5. Relish the Simple Things

    When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

    In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

    6. Journaling

    Journaling

    is simply writing your thoughts down.

    According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

    In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

    Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

    What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

    According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

    Advertising

    Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

    7. Make Someone’s Day

    Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

    You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

    All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

    8. Look After Your Body

    Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

    Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

    Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

    Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

    Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

    If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

    More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

    9. Manage Your Inner Critic

    Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

    This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

    The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

    10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

    You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

    The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

    Conclusion

    Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

    More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

    Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
    [3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
    [4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
    [5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

    Read Next