I think it’s fair to say that we all go through moments in life where we may feel overwhelmed. I’ve found a few things to relieve some of that worry and stress. I hope it may help you in some way.
Big Problem, Little Problem
Firstly, this is something I heard from a therapist years ago and is something that I’m reminded of whenever I am going through a stressful period in my life. It’s the idea that one big problem is just a set of lots of small problems. You can apply this to most issues that you may be struggling with. How many times have we become so overwhelmed we shut down. Too overwhelmed with the huge problem that sits before you.
Try to break the issues down if possible. Think of your next step. What is something you can do: something small, something tangible with a measurable outcome. Perhaps it’s taking that plunge and speaking with your manager about something. Or setting yourself a target to walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes. Break down big problems into smaller problems and you will find that you’ll feel less dread, and more of a sense of accomplishment as you tackle those small problems first, and then gradually dealing with the entire problem without it feeling like climbing a mountain.
I was in a pickle… but what was the pickle?
Now, imagine a problem that you were struggling with this time last year. Actually try to make a list of the things you were struggling with. You might remember some major events such as a bereavement or a major loss. But what about the things that might have kept you up all night? I try to list things I struggle with sometimes to help me organise my thoughts. I recently came across a list of problems from a few years ago, it was pretty cathartic to cross off the things I was no longer worried about. It made me realise that when I am going through it, I tend to lose perspective and believe that the problems I am facing are too mighty to ever be dealt with. Yet without having the problems listed, I would never have even remembered what the issues were.
So what’s the point of telling you this? Well, I realised that in a year’s time, whatever you are worrying about, will no longer be an issue to you, or as significant as it feels in the moment. Though this is an idea that won’t solve whatever it is you are struggling with at the moment, the notion that time heals all is essentially the crux of this tip.
Oh (Create) Happy Days
My last words of support to you, is a message I received from a therapist who reminded me of something really important. This is something I particularly struggled with (and still do at times). It’s the idea that instead of waiting to feel better and waiting for a good day to come, you should force yourself to do things that you love in order to create a good day and good feelings.
This idea was completely the opposite of the narrative I’d say to myself for at least a decade; the idea that I will wait to feel good before I do anything. A bit like saving an item of clothing for a special event that never happens. This idea would cause me to spiral and feel worse as I did nothing to break out of the negative spiral I found myself stuck in.
By the way, this isn’t something that you may find easy to do. In fact, our minds trick ourselves into thinking that we should stay in our depressed or anxious state and continue to paralyse ourselves, fooling ourselves that this is something that will make us feel better. Maybe it does temporarily. But, in my opinion I think spending hours in bed or doing the same maladaptive behaviours like isolating ourselves or having an inconsistent sleep routine will continue to make us feel worse in the long run. I’m not to say you shouldn’t rest. But make time for the things that you know make you feel good. For example, for myself, going to the gym helps me break out of my rut and change my routine. Alternatively going for a walk in a park that I am familiar with, or calling a friend, doing a favour for someone or meditating are all things I know will make me feel better.
Doing these things is not easy as abovementioned, but the moment you switch your routine is where you take a step towards feeling better.
Try these out and let me know how you find it. It takes practice and there will be days where you might just fall back into the spirals that life can trap us in. But, over time you will find that you would have put some things in your toolbox to help you pull yourself out.
See you on the next one.