1. Make a list of the things that are making you feel overwhelmed. Next to each item determine its immediate importance, its importance in a month, its importance in a year, and its importance in ten years. (Very few things will be important in ten years, trust that.)
2. Plug out of your life. Sign out of your email, log out of your social media accounts, save all necessary documents on your computer, and hit “Shut down.” And yes, turn your phone off. In a world where we are constantly plugged in and unceasingly available, moments of true solitude are few and far between. And when we are finally able to hear ourselves think and have our hands free even just for a little while, we might actually have the capacity to go forth and do the things we need to get done with a clearer mind.
3. Work it out. Dance, run, lift, do some yoga, etc. Whatever you do, enjoy the mental and physical benefits of exercising. The science of healthy exercise is that it gives us endorphins, endorphins boost your mood, thus fighting against negative feelings including being overwhelmed.
4. Prepare a simple, nutritious, healthy meal. Notice I wrote, “prepare.” Sometimes all we need is a good, hearty meal to lift our spirits. And preparing it ourselves can also make us feel accomplished, something we often don’t feel when we are overwhelmed. P.S. Load up on your vegetables because they are good for feeling energetic, which is good for your emotions.
5. Drink tea! Okay so you may not think you’re a tea-drinker but there are so many different kinds that you can find one that suits your taste. Apart from being great for your digestive system, different types of tea are considered remedies for calming the mind in many cultures.
6. Sleep. As Hemingway so aptly put it, “I love sleep. My life tends to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” I know our go-go productivity society may give us a different message but sometimes you have to say, “Screw it, I am going to sleep.” As someone who doesn’t sleep enough, partially because it’s in the genes, but also because I get stress-induced insomnia from time to time, I know sleep struggles quite well. While I usually just ride it out, my mum recently told me to drink a cup of Chamomile tea at night, an hour before I’d like to go to bed. It may be the placebo effect but I have seen major improvements.
7. Alternative medicine! I tend to be “meh,” about taking pills or putting substances in my body that I cannot account for in general. No, I’m not one of those people who are anti-immunizations or whatever, but I do tend to think of health in more holistic terms. And where possible, I choose alternative medicine. While I have done chiropractic care for several things and do recommend it, when it comes to curbing stress, see an Acupuncturist! Just try it once, and you’ll find the sensation strangely wonderful. The experience of “rest” I have while getting acupuncture is yet to be matched.
8. Cry. While crying is something that still gives me lingering discomfort to admit to doing, I do think it is necessary. Cry alone or cry on the phone with your mother or a really good friend. Life is hard yo, sometimes you just have to let it out.
9. Sit and listen to music. No, don’t have your ear phones plugged in and be busy with other things. Really just sit and do nothing while the music is playing. I can’t tell you what kind of music to listen to when you feel overwhelmed, I can tell you that is when I really like Jazz Instrumentals, Gangsta Rap, or Gospel. Weird mix, but to each his or her own.
10. Read a good book. Read a book that you know will make you laugh or your favorite collection of poems or something inspiring. Also, maybe read a book of faith. You don’t need to be a person of faith to find some inspiration in the Bible or the Torah or the Koran or the Gita or another religious book. For me, simply recalling some of the Psalms can help bring some perspective.
11. Take a shower. Take a nice, long, hot shower and just let the water fall over your body, and for a moment, try to stop thinking about everything. Just notice how the water hits your face and your hands and your stomach and legs. That’s all you need to focus on.
12. This is the corniest thing I am ever going to admit to doing so listen up: Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, I turn of all the lights and I sit in a dark room and just listen to myself breathe. It’s weird but it helps me focus on being in the moment because like many people, the cause of feeling overwhelmed is failing to focus on the present.
13. Pray. I don’t know what that means to you but I think praying is something that we can all do because it is the recognition of the need for spirituality, and that we are not in complete control. And how we pray is different. The Catholic girl in me will always believe that when in doubt, say a Hail Mary.
14. Get a pen and paper and write the following 5 things down: 1.) I am a human being not a machine. 2.) I am allowed to fail sometimes. 3.) These feelings are temporary. 4.) Tomorrow will be better. 5.) I just need to take today one step at a time. Now fold this paper and put it somewhere you can look at throughout the day.