Do you ever have those days where you just feel stuck? The house is a wreck. You’re drowning in work and family obligations. You feel like crap, because Lord knows you haven’t had time to take care of yourself with everything you’ve been up against lately.
You know that the only way to get out of this ever-deepening pit of overwhelm is to dig yourself out a little at a time, yet you can’t even find the motivation to pick up a shovel.
If you’re anything like me, this scenario sounds uncomfortably familiar. The story of overwhelm is all too common, and the scary thing about overwhelm is it can paralyze you. We tend to look at the big picture, the elephant-sized to do list, instead of tackling it like we should, one bite at a time.
The great thing about overwhelm, however, is that it exists entirely in our minds. Overwhelm is a story. It’s just one perception of reality, which means it can be changed.
I’m going to give you three quick and easy things you can do right now to take back control of your own reality.
How to feel better right now
1. Get up, get out
The fastest, easiest way to switch your mindset is to move your body! There’s a reason exercise is a suggested treatment for tons of medical conditions. It’s literally the cure for what ails you. Exercise releases endorphins, happy-making hormones that can diminish pain and calm you, interacting with the brain in the same way as morphine.
Try to get outside if you can. Study after study reveals that a person’s connectedness to nature is directly linked to their overall feeling of happiness. Even looking at pictures of nature scenes reduces feelings of stress, anger, and fear. Work out with your pet or a loved one to get a bonus boost of oxytocin, the “love hormone.”
Laughter also releases endorphins, so if you can’t get out and move, then do what I do and pull up some funny pet videos on YouTube. You’ll feel better in no time.
2. Switch your sensory input
When overwhelm stifles your problem solving efforts, put your unconscious mind to work. Often, the unconscious mind will begin working a problem before our conscious mind tackles it and will continue working it long after our conscious mind has given up.
However, the trouble with the unconscious mind is that it’s often difficult to access. Unlocking its powerful creativity requires relaxation and, oddly enough, distraction.
This is why our best ideas often come to us when we’re in the shower or falling asleep. Placing yourself in a relaxing, distracting scenario may help your unconscious mind solve your problems for you.
Try changing up your sensory input: the sound of running water or soft music and the feel of something tactile in your hands can do wonders. Do something that relaxes you but requires minimal mental energy: gardening, listening to music, washing dishes, and yes, taking a shower can be most effective.
Surely it’s no surprise that connecting with others made this list. We’re social animals, after all, and we require connection to thrive. Taking the time to bond with others isn’t just a way to feel better, though. It also helps with overwhelm in two ways:
- Talking, and really connecting, with another person takes you out of your own concerns and places your focus on someone else. Maybe the person you’re connecting with has been having a tough time, too, or maybe they haven’t. Either way, your empathy is engaged, and your perspective is refocused.
- Sharing your struggles with someone else eases the burden in your own mind. Maybe that person will have some suggestions of what helped them in the past. Even if they don’t, they can lend you a sympathetic ear or distract you with a story about that funny thing that happened to them the other day.
Think of one person you want to connect or reconnect with and reach out to them. Get together for coffee or a meal, or at least a long phone call. Really take the time to connect.
Overwhelm is a normal part of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it take over. Try these tips and anything else you think may help you shift your perception and punch overwhelm right in its face.