It can be an awful feeling — one that grabs you by the throat, whirls you around in all directions, and removes any sense of balance from your daily existence: the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Many times, if you are honest with yourself, you can claim responsibility for it. Yes, you have agreed to do too much, have made multitasking a hobby, and have raised the speed of checking off tasks on your “to-do” list to death-defying levels.
Perhaps you have been blindsided with several of those “oh no, this can’t really be happening” events that seem to accumulate all at once before you can get a handle on any single problem. Whatever the reason, you are left wondering where to run, where to hide, and when, if ever, you will be able to get some rest.
If you find yourself in this predicament, know that there really are simple actions that can help you regain control over a seemingly runaway life. Try a few of these tips:
Force yourself to simply stop what you are doing and go into slow motion. Pretend that you are the equivalent of a rag doll suspended in action, just hanging around observing the surrounding chaos (assuming that this would not cause danger to anyone, of course). Sit in a chair, let your limbs go loose and your muscles relax, and imagine that you are supported by the arms of someone who loves you.
Put things into perspective
Ask yourself where all of this stands in relation to what is of genuine value. Is it really going to matter next year or even in a few months? Where does it all fit in your overall view of life? Remind yourself of what is really important in life.
Ask for the courage and energy to simply be up to the challenge of whatever you are facing.
Give yourself positive messages
Examples include: “I have handled this before. I can do it again, even better.”
Take things one step at a time, one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time.
Distance yourself from the situation (even walking outside for a few minutes can help). Pretend temporarily that you are simply an observer of all that is going on in your life. What would be the best way to regain some control over the situation? Become your own life coach and suggest a positive strategy.
Let go of anger
Remember that by not forgiving and by holding on to resentment, you are only hurting yourself.
Give yourself no-demand time
This is a set amount of time (at least 30 minutes) when you are not responsible for anything or need to do anything.
Ask for help
Request and receive help from God, from those who love you, from friends and neighbors, from social service agencies, and others. Many people are willing to help but usually wait to be asked.
Organize a small part of your environment
Examples are your desktop, a kitchen counter, a purse, and other spaces or items. It can help to gain control over even small things, and when order is established in small areas, stress can be reduced.
Find a safe and peaceful place where you can go and reflect
This can be an empty church, a park, your bedroom with a do not disturb sign posted, your backyard, and other quiet places.
Behave like the person you would like to become
Choose your responses to what is happening with calm deliberation. Think about what you want to say rather than simply reacting to the stress of the situation. It is very hard to take back hurtful words that are said. For example, try to understand another person’s point of view at the time. Ask yourself if this is the best and most mature response you can give to the situation. All that can be asked is that you do your best at the time with what you know.
Many times getting control in your life is simply a matter of changing your attitude and looking at things differently. An artist will often stand back while painting a picture to get perspective, looking at the whole in order to see what needs to be fixed or enhanced. When things are put into perspective, what is genuinely important becomes evident, and action can then be taken one step at a time based on priorities. And you can breathe easier as balance is restored.