Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Take Control of Your Life
Friday, January 6 2017 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Are you feeling overwhelmed and need to take control of your life? If you're not careful, stress and anxiety can take over your life. I often find myself with to-do lists that are far too long, anxiety that is far too high and little-to-no motivation. Sound familiar? I was sick and tired of feeling this way, and I bet you are too, so I made some small changes that allowed me to feel in control of my life and stop feeling overwhelmed.
How I Felt Overwhelmed and Started to Take Control of My Life
I've always found the first few weeks of January stressful, especially as I transition back to work and real life. This week was no different; my home was a complete mess, and so was my mind. Boxes and holiday decorations were all over the place. I was feeling overwhelmed with everything and mad at myself for allowing it to get this cluttered in the first place. I couldn't find my keys, I had laundry piled up, I had a slew of emails that needed to be answered and I just wanted to hide. I was feeling pretty lousy. "How did I let my life get this out of hand?" I thought.
Instead of having a pity party, I realized I had a choice: take strategic action or take myself back to bed. I grabbed a box and stuffed all the things that I could recycle in it as fast as I could. It took about four minutes and all wrapping paper and crap that covered my floor was out of sight. Was my house fit for visitors? Ha, yeah right, but this activity did improve my motivation, and I felt quite a bit better about my environment.
Stop Feeling Overwhelmed: 10 Things to Do Today to Take Control of Your Life
- Ask yourself this question: "What small action can you do today to feel more productive?" Aim for something you can do in less than 10 minutes. How would it feel to complete this?
- Slow down. So many of us are rushing through life, and this is stressful. When we become more mindful, we increase confidence, make fewer mistakes and feel connected to the strides we are making. Take a few minutes to think about the areas of your life where you’ve been rushing and try to slow down and be a little more deliberate.
- Lower your expectations (of yourself and others). There is no way I can do everything I have on my to-do list--not even if I had an arsenal of assistants. Why? Because being creative and connecting with others comes from me.
- Clean up your screens. Close some tabs and clean out your inbox. Clutter on your screen creates internal chaos.
- Connect with people who get it. I have several friends who are feeling overwhelmed with particular areas in their life. The resolution bandwagon is annoying the heck out of them. It can be helpful and validating to talk to them when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I often get inspired and more motivated after venting.
- Be kinder. Self-criticism doesn't improve motivation, it leads to more stress. You're not going to be motivated to achieve something by being mean to yourself. It just doesn't work. Remind yourself of how far you have come, rather than focusing on your downfalls or what you haven’t achieved. Be nicer to yourself and see how much more motivated you feel.
- Reward yourself. Science shows that when we provide ourselves with positive reinforcement, we are more likely to achieve our goals. A complement, sticker, sweet treat, Netflix binge or a few minutes on social media counts.
- Ask for help from the right people. People want to help you. Think about a time when you helped someone--it felt good right? Your boss, your doctor, your partner, your therapist, your best friend all want to help you. Let people know you need some help.
- Honor your achievements. If you finally made that doctor's appointment you've been putting off for months or picked up your bedside table, don't rush to the next task. Give yourself a moment to bask in the glow of achievement.
- Grab a buddy. I have a good friend who doesn't pass judgment and likes to organize. I will take her to lunch or dinner after she helps me complete something I've been putting off.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed try one of these tools today to take back control of your life. One small step in the right direction can help you feel more confident, less overwhelmed and in control of your life instantly.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.