When life feels overwhelming, it’s as if you’re being pulled into a million different directions all at once, each direction threatening to pull you under and drown you. We all go through seasons like this.
Seasons when life seems to hit us with one problem after another, one challenge after another, barely even giving us a chance to recover. It’s like every day we are constantly grasping for air, wishing for time to stop or at least slow down, just to give us enough time to find our bearings. This is certainly what it felt like for me a year ago.
Just when I thought everything was finally working out for me, that for once I finally got it figured out, suddenly, out of nowhere life threw me all these curveballs. I was hit with one problem after another. One bad news after another. One failure after another.
Every day I was trying my hardest to move forward, keep up with everything, and take action but honestly, I just felt so defeated, hopeless, and weighed down by everything going wrong in my life. It seemed like I was trapped in a quicksand. For every step that I tried to take forward, I was being pulled back into this dark maze.
I know how emotionally and mentally draining it can be when life feels overwhelming. Sometimes we even start to believe that maybe this is how it’s going to be for us forever. We start to doubt if we even have the ability to improve our lives and find lasting happiness.
If you’re currently feeling this way, please know that there is hope. There is certainly a way out of this dark maze. In this post, I will be sharing with you the steps I took that have greatly helped me navigate this stormy season of my life.
These steps gave me hope and helped me find the strength and motivation that I needed to push forward and come out of the other side. I’m hoping that it will do the same for you!
What To Do When Life Feels Overwhelming
1. Take Deep Breaths
When life feels overwhelming, I know it might seem like the whole world is closing in on you and everything just feels suffocating. During these moments, giving yourself the chance to slow down and take deep breaths is crucial.
Taking deep breaths helps anchor your mind in the present moment. This is especially helpful when your mind is racing to all the uncertainties and worries of the future. It gives you a chance to step away from the chaos and noise of life even just for a little while to help you gain clarity and find little pockets of inner of peace.
So, when everything starts to feel too much, please don’t hesitate to take a few deep breaths.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
Breathe in strength. Breathe out stress.
Focus all your attention on your breath.
I know that everything feels too much right now but know that you have the strength within you to navigate through this. Breathe. You can do this.
2. Focus On What You Can Control
When overwhelmed, it’s easy to feel powerless, spending so much of our time and energy trying to control every little aspect of our lives will only magnify that feeling.
It will only lead to so much disappointment and frustration when things don’t work out the way we want them to, making us more defeated and hopeless. This has happened to me more than a dozen times.
I have always had this bad habit of wanting to control every little detail of my life. I have always believed that as long as I’m doing this, I was preventing things from going wrong. I would spend so much time and energy planning for different outcomes only to be broken-hearted when things fall apart.
Because the reality is, regardless of how hard we try, there are just certain things that are beyond our control, and focusing on those things will only cause us more stress and will only magnify the feeling of overwhelm.
While we are navigating this difficult time, one of the best things that we can do is to accept the things that are out of our control and focus all our energy on what we can control instead.
By focusing on what we can control, we are reminding ourselves that though things may be difficult and too overwhelming right now, we are certainly not entirely powerless and there are still so many things that we can do to turn our situation around.
Here’s a great article that’ll help you focus on what you can control from Mindfulzen.
3. Establish Boundaries
How many times have you overextended yourself to other people while completely disregarding your needs and what you’re feeling? How many times have you said yes to every demand, whether it’s from work, family, or friends?
I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have done this. I was always so afraid to say no to other people, especially to the ones closest to me, because I was so afraid to disappoint them.
Also, to be honest, the reason why I was afraid to set any form of boundaries was because I believed that my worth and value were tied to how useful I was to other people. But when I was struggling in life, having no form of boundaries only made everything more overwhelming for me.
I’ve allowed myself to be pulled into a thousand different directions without realizing that by doing this I was completely ignoring my own struggles and my own needs. I was losing sight of my priorities because of constantly putting other people’s needs first.
It’s important to remember that setting boundaries is not about shutting everyone out. It’s not about being rude, selfish or unkind. It is about identifying your limits, communicating them, and choosing to protect your peace and well-being.
It’s not about pushing people away. It is about maintaining a healthy balanced life. Remember that your needs also matter.
4. Write Down Your Thoughts And Feelings
When the chaos and noise of life become too much, writing down your thoughts and feelings might just be that little pocket of inner peace that you need. It’s amazing how this simple act can have such a huge impact in helping us find clarity.
Writing down my thoughts and emotions has always been my way of expressing and processing what I feel. When all my emotions threaten to drown me, writing helps me release and process them.
It helps me detach myself from all the worries and anxieties that I’m feeling and allows me a chance to see them from a different perspective. The important thing to remember here is what you’re writing doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be honest.
Let the words flow out of you. It doesn’t have to be structured or have perfect grammar. Write what you’re currently feeling. Even if they are just single words. Start with that.
Doing this not only helps release all the pent-up emotions that we have been carrying for so long but also, seeing all our emotions and what we are going through on a piece of paper can be so validating and help remind us that what we are going through and what we are feeling is valid, real and it certainly deserves attention.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out And Ask For Help
I know that when life gets hard, most of us find it so difficult to ask people for help. We think that since this is our problem then we should fix it ourselves, without any help. I certainly felt this way.
When I was navigating the lowest point of my life, I wanted to fix everything on my own. I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through, even the people closest to me. I pretended to be okay around everyone.
And frankly, I was also afraid of letting other people know what I was going through thinking that I would only be burdening them with my problems. But I was wrong.
I know I have said this before but I will certainly never get tired of saying it again. You will never be a burden to the people who really love you. They actually want to be there for you. They want to listen to you and they want to be in your corner, holding your hand while you navigate the twists and turns of life.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or a testament to your abilities. We all need help sometimes. Sometimes there are just things that are too much for us to bear alone and we need someone to lean into and help us go through it.
And that’s perfectly okay. I know that reaching out is not always easy. It can be intimidating at first and opening ourselves up to someone can be difficult. Start with the person who you trust the most. Start with one person, they probably want to know how you are really doing too.
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6. Set Realistic Goals And Expectations For Yourself
When we are going through so much, most of us are guilty of also pushing ourselves to do everything all at once or to fix everything all at once. I’m guilty of this too.
When I was trying to find my way out of that dark maze, I wanted to do as much as I could to turn my life around right away. I set all these huge goals with unrealistic timelines, thinking that doing this would just push me to work harder.
But what it did was the complete opposite. I was already feeling so overwhelmed and doing this just made it worse. It paralyzed me and it made it even more difficult for me to take action. I was constantly procrastinating because taking all those impossible steps just seemed too much.
When life feels overwhelming, setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself is crucial. There’s certainly nothing wrong with aiming high but during seasons of overwhelm doing this will only make it more difficult for you to navigate this period.
It will only make everything more overwhelming and when you fall short of your unrealistic standards, you will only feel more defeated and hopeless. When we are feeling overwhelmed, finding the motivation to take action is already difficult.
What we want to do is to keep ourselves motivated to keep going, setting realistic goals will help with that. By setting realistic goals and expectations, we are ensuring that we can consistently meet our targets.
Meeting all our goals will give us a sense of accomplishment which ultimately gives us more motivation and determination to keep going.
7. Live One Day At A Time
Are you also guilty of letting all the uncertainties of the future consume your thoughts? How many times have you spent so much time and energy ruminating on the past or on all the what-ifs of the future?
When life feels overwhelming, allowing yourself to be swept away from the anxieties of the future will only make things even more overwhelmingly daunting.
When we are already going through so many challenges, it’s easy to let our minds wander and create all these possible problems in the future that may or may not happen, thinking that doing this will help us prepare for any outcome.
I’ve certainly done this and let me tell you doing this did not only waste my time and energy but it also just made everything more difficult for me. By constantly ruminating about all the uncertainties of the future, I was constantly adding more stress and overwhelm to my life.
During periods of struggle or overwhelm, living one day at a time can be such a lifeline. It’s important to remember that living one day at a time is not about ignoring the future. It is about being in the present moment, managing immediate concerns, and focusing on the things that you can do today.
While it’s certainly important to have plans and future goals, allowing yourself to constantly ruminate on what might happen in the future will only cause you more anxiety and stress. It will also rob you of the chance to actually live and enjoy the moments that are happening to you now and distract you from all the tasks that you can do today to help better your life.
8. Practice Self Compassion
When my life was falling apart, one of the greatest things that I have done for myself during that period of my life was to offer myself kindness, compassion, and grace.
I know how easy it is to constantly criticize ourselves for every little mistake. I am definitely guilty of being my own worst critic. I would constantly put myself down thinking that by doing this I was making myself more accountable and I was pushing myself to be more responsible.
I didn’t realize that by doing this, I was slowly negatively impacting my self worth and confidence. Constantly criticizing my every little mistake made me feel like a total failure and it made me question my abilities.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve said no to opportunities that I really wanted because I believed that I wasn’t good enough.
When you are going through periods of struggle and overwhelm, one of the best things that you can do for yourself is to give yourself the same amount of compassion, kindness, and understanding that you so freely give to others.
I know that when we are faced with so many problems and challenges, that inner critic in us often amplifies our mistakes and shortcomings but we must remember that constant negative self talk will only add to our burdens. It will only make things even more overwhelming for us.
Please remember that you deserve to give yourself love and understanding. You deserve to treat yourself with the same level of kindness and respect that you offer to the people that you love.
If you want to learn how to start loving yourself more, take this 30 day self love challenge now.
9. Remember That This Is Just Temporary
When life feels overwhelming, it’s easy to start believing that this period is going to be our forever. I mean, when everything around us is falling apart, it can be difficult to believe that things will get better.
This is certainly what I felt when I was smacked with one problem after another. I started to believe that my life would only ever go from bad to worse and that regardless of what I did, I was doomed to struggle forever.
But I was wrong. Please know that regardless of how defeated you might feel right now, this period in your life right now is certainly not your forever. Change is inevitable. Your circumstances will change and there is certainly hope.
What you’re going through now is temporary. Things will get better. Believe in what you can do and in the invaluable strength that you have within you. You will certainly come out of the other side.
So, please keep going. Keep trying. Soon the light will shine again. Your today is certainly not going to be your forever.
10. Practice Daily Gratitude
I know that you’re probably thinking that being grateful when everything around you feels so suffocating and consuming is just impossible. I understand how you feel.
I felt this too. When I was struggling, I’ve always wondered how some people can find the strength to be grateful for something when basically everything around them is falling apart. To me, it felt impossible.
I thought that the best thing to do was to focus all my attention on my problems. I believed that doing this would make me more motivated and driven. But what it actually did was make me bitter and angry.
To be honest, doing that made me feel more defeated and hopeless. One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned is that being grateful is not about minimizing what you’re going through or ignoring what you’re feeling.
Being grateful is not about pretending that everything is okay. It is about allowing yourself to find joy in simple things while still acknowledging and addressing the challenges that you are going through. It is about choosing to find hope even in the small everyday things.
Start by writing down three things you’re grateful for every single day. Do this after you wake up and before going to bed. You will see how this small practice can have such a profound impact in helping us navigate challenging times.
When life feels overwhelming, remember that every storm, no matter how fierce, eventually passes. I know that you probably feel so exhausted and drained right now, but please remember that you are so much stronger than you think.
You have within you what it takes to weather any storm that comes your way. Please know that your capacity for resilience and courage is boundless. Ultimately, navigating this period in your life is your own personal journey.
So, please don’t hesitate to choose only the steps that work for you and identify other steps that will help you make things during this overwhelming period even a little easier. You can do this. Always remember that I’m rooting for you!