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How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Regain Control

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How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Regain Control

We live in a time of productivity overload. Everywhere you turn there are articles and books about how to be more productive, how to squeeze 27 hours of work out of every 24, how to double your work pace, and how to do more and more all in the name of eventually getting out of the rat race. All of this can lead to overwhelm, which is why you’re not trying to discover how to stop feeling overwhelmed.

If we aren’t multitasking, we feel lazy. If we aren’t doing everything, we feel like we’re slacking. We compare ourselves to others who we think are doing more, having more, getting more, and achieving more, and it’s driving us crazy.

We feel overwhelmed when we think we have too much to do, too much is expected of us, or that a stressor is too much for us to handle, and we respond by lashing out with emotions of anger, irritability, anxiety, doubt and helplessness.

Whether you’re overwhelmed with studying, working, taking care of kids, or developing new professional skills, you can learn how to stop being overwhelmed with a few simple tips and tricks. Not only will you get the important stuff done, but you’ll keep your sanity while doing it!

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1. Orient Your Thinking Towards Positive Thoughts

When you feel overwhelmed, the first thing you do is start thinking negatively or begin to resent why you have to take on so much responsibility in the first place. The first thing you have to do is to stop with this kind of thinking.

Instead, focus on the positive and look toward problem solving. If you’re stuck in traffic, think of how great it is to have some time to yourself. If you’re rushing trying to get things done by a deadline, think how lucky you are to have a purpose and to be working towards it. If you’re stressing about a final exam, think of how fortunate you are to be given the opportunity of higher education.

After you’ve changed your thought patterns, you must then say to yourself “I can do this.” Keep saying it until you believe it, and you’ll be on your way to learning how to stop feeling overwhelmed.

2. Take a Deep Breath and Change Your Posture

When you’re stressed, certain things happen to your body. You start to breath more shallow, you hunch over, you immediately tense up, and all that tension drives your feelings of stress even more.

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To counter this, straighten your posture and take at least ten deep, cleansing breaths[1]. Force yourself to smile and do something to change your state. It could be as simple as giving yourself a hug or as silly as clapping your hands three times, throwing them up in the air and shouting “I got this!”

Think to yourself, how would I sit/stand if I had perfect confidence and control of the situation?

3. Focus on Right Now

Now that you are in a better state of mind and are no longer thinking negatively, you need to focus on the here and now. Ask yourself this question: What is the most important thing I have control of and can act on right now? Keep asking yourself this until you have a concrete next step.

Once you know what you want to do, write out the steps you need to take to carry out this action.

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4. Take Action

Now that you know what’s most important and what to do about it, you need to act on your plan if you want to learn how to stop feeling overwhelmed. Start with the first step and focus on getting that done through responsible time management.

Don’t worry about anything else right now. Just focus on what your first step is and how to get it done. Once that’s done, determine the next most important step and create a new goal and plan.

5. Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Seasoned gamblers understand the importance of due diligence and knowing when to let go. The Gambler’s Theory is that once your bet is placed, there is nothing you can do, so you might as well relax and enjoy the process.

The time to worry is when you’re figuring out the best odds and making the decision of what to bet when you can actually take action. For example, after an exam, there is absolutely no point in stressing about it, as there’s nothing you can do to change the outcome. The same goes for feeling overwhelmed.

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If you can do something about your situation, focus and take action. However, if you’ve done what you could and are now just waiting, or if you’re worried about something you have no control over, realize that there’s no point. You might as well relax and enjoy the moment.

6. Stop Feeling Guilty

If you want to learn how to stop feeling overwhelmed, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. If you are at your wits end trying to keep up with what you think you should be doing, you aren’t being fair to yourself.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive for improvement, but don’t go overboard because you feel like you have to. Only you know what’s really important to you, and your personal success journey is uniquely yours, so focus on what your top priorities are, not someone else’s.

The Bottom Line

If you’re trying to learn how to stop feeling overwhelmed and get back to a sense of balance and feelings of joy, the important thing is to realize that you can do something about it by taking focused and deliberate action. Identify where your stressors are coming from and what action steps you can take to tackle them head on instead of letting them control your emotions.

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With each little step you take, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your days.

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Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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