Tips to Overcome Anxiety When You're Feeling Overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed is something that we all go through. We all go through seasons in life where major events or major changes start happening all at once. Our responsibilities start piling up and we're not sure what to focus on or how to find balance. When the starting of a new season brings instability and new responsibilities into our lives it is normal to feel shaken at first. Being thrown out of our comfort zones or regular routines can be challenging and it affects people differently. How well we manage the situation has a lot to do with our previous experience dealing with major changes in life. Also, with the amount of responsibility we're already used to managing. For example; the level of anxiety that a first-time mom has about giving birth or that a first-time parent has about raising a child is going to be much different than for a parent who's having their second or third child. So when we're given new responsibilities or we're adjusting to new roles it takes time at the beginning before we're able to get a grip of things.
A lot of times we feel guilty or ashamed for feeling overwhelmed. It is important to know that feeling overwhelmed is a normal part of life and it doesn't mean that you're incompetent, lazy or undisciplined. It just means that you have more on your plate than you're used to. People like me who struggle with anxiety tend to have more difficulty adjusting to change because of the instability that it brings. When I have a lot on my plate I tend to overthink, which prompts me to procrastinate, which leads to anxiety over not getting things done, which leads to feelings of guilt, which leads me to indulge in negative self talk.. you get where I’m going? At the end nothing gets done.
I've recently been going through a season of change in my life. In the last four years I've experienced the changes of becoming a college graduate, starting my first "real job", growing in my career and learning new skills. I became Christian and I also got married. Long-term relationships ended and some began. Recently though, my husband and I, have had to deal with a lot of health problems that affected every area of our lives. I was experiencing all of this when I decided to start my blog. Which changed my career to a whole new direction. Trying to figure out this new direction, on top of everything else, had me feeling extremely overwhelmed for months. I had no point of reference, everything was new. So for the longest time I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I kept resisting the situation which led me to feeling even more anxious. Things are better now, thanks to God, and I have learned a lot about myself and how to overcome my anxiety in the process. When everything seems to be happening all at once and you feel paralyzed with anxiety and doubt, it is essential to take a step back to clear our minds and assess the situation. I want to share with you the lessons I've learned along the way that were a huge help in the process. Hope they're as helpful for you as they were for me :).
Tip 1. Go back to your center
In other words; take time off from trying to figure everything out and practice self-care.
When we are feeling overwhelmed an anxious, our natural instinct is to try to solve everything at once or completely ignore the situation. So we either come up with a bunch of plans on how to solve our situation or we distract ourselves by doing other things. The problem with either of those things is that we're letting our anxiety dictate our actions. Which a lot of times prompts us to cut corners instead of coming up with real solutions. Practicing self-care means taking the time to deal with our thoughts and emotions. This can be done by engaging in actions/activities that take care of the mind, body, soul and spirit.
My routine: What I do first and foremost is seek God. I have noticed that when I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed I tend to ignore my spiritual life. So I always start with prayer, reading my bible and asking God to help me figure out what direction I need to take. Next, I take care of my body; I take long hot baths, I do my nails, I take care of my skin, I go to the gym and make sure I'm eating my veggies. Lastly, I read books that help me feel good, feed my mind or that are just fun. I clear my schedule and prioritize doing these things for as long as I need to until my anxiety goes down and I feel ready to face my situation. Sometimes it will take just a few days but depending on the situation, it could take a couple weeks or a month before my anxiety subsides. I don't always do everything on my list, for me taking time to seek God is the one thing that is always enough. The rest just flows.
Tip 2: Take a step back and assess the situation; where is my anxiety coming from?
When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I tend to overthink and overanalyze. I experience a lot of anxiety over making decisions on my own so I either seek other people's advice/validation or just ignore the situation for as long as possible. The problem is that a lot of times people will give you advice based on their own experiences which may not necessarily be what's best for you. And Ignoring the problem causes us to create unrealistic expectations on ourselves which can distort the reality of things. In order to overcome our anxiety it helps to take a step back from other people's expectations and to find courage to face our situation head on.
Practice: If necessary, take a break from social media and unhealthy relationships.
Write down everything that is making you anxious and pinpoint what/who is causing you the most anxiety. Then figure out which of them are out of your control and which ones you can work on. Be honest with yourself. A lot of times we end up feeling overwhelmed over things that we can't control so it's essential to be able to know when we're setting unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others. It is unrealistic to think that we can take care of everything and everybody.
Tip 3: Break everything down into simple steps
After you have pinpointed the causes of your anxiety. Come up with a simple and practical plan to move forward, make sure you're specific. The simpler the plan the better. Then tackle it down step by step. Don't try to do everything all at once, give yourself time to focus on one thing at a time. As somebody who struggles with anxiety it has been liberating for me to learn that it's ok for me to do one thing at a time. We live in a world where multitasking and overworking is expected and admired. So to fall short from that can seem like we aren’t good enough or that we're lazy/undisciplined. For me, having a lot on my mind and trying to multitask can actually be crippling. However, once I realized that it was ok for me to take my time to get things done and take it step by step. That it was ok for me to not have everything figured out. That's when I became more productive since I was less anxious about getting things done. Once I cleared and organized my mind to do one task at a time, I was able to focus on what really matters.
Practice: Create a schedule; write things down. This is a practice that I started doing recently that had a huge impact on my life. I started by writing daily to-do lists and then it transformed into creating a weekly schedule. I don't write everything down, just the things that are part of my plan of action that I consider my priorities. Then I spread them out across the week. It takes discipline and persistence to get a hang of this and it doesn't happen over night. Sometimes I'm able to stick to everything on my schedule and sometimes I'm not. If I don't get something done I try to pick it up the next day or week. The important thing is not to give up on it and to celebrate every small victory.
Tip 4. Let go of perfection
Being able to organize my schedule and my priorities allows me stay focused and feel less anxious. Being a student, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee and now also a wife comes with many responsibilities. To the point that it’s hard to prioritize and very easy to feel the need to do everything all the time. Perfection is definitely something I struggle with and a huge cause of anxiety. So understanding my limitations and shortcomings is essential when we're feeling overwhelmed.
Practice: For me this is where prayer comes in a lot. I talk to God about everything that is on my mind, what I'm feeling anxious about and when I'm feeling like I'm not good enough. I'm learning to forgive myself when I fall short of my expectations. I am learning to speak to myself with compassion, love and kindness. I'm learning to let go of what I can't control and to do my best with the things that I can. It is all a learning process.
Tip 5; Enjoy the process
No matter where we are in life, we are exactly where we need to be. In good times and in bad times we are constantly growing and learning. There is no such thing as a perfect life or a life without problems and responsibilities. But learning to be grateful about the little things and placing our hope in God sure makes a huge difference.
Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section down below. If you enjoyed it don't forget to share it :) I really appreciate your support! Until next time friends! blessings and hugs.
***Books I have been reading in the past few months "Sojourner" by Christian Bosse