How To Calm Down & Relax When Life Has You Overwhelmed AF

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How To Calm Down, Relax, And Relieve Stress With Self Care Activities When You’re Overwhelmed

You know those days when you feel so completely stressed and overwhelmed that you don't believe you will ever be able to calm down and relax?

Those days when everyone and everything is demanding so much from you that you really don’t think that you can take it anymore.

Those days where it feels like your head is going to explode if you don't figure out how to relax. 

Let me help you get from overwhelmed to calm. It is possible. It just takes some awareness and action.

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By learning some relaxation techniques and self-care tips, you can tackle an overwhelming situation by becoming relaxed. 

Here are 9 stress management techniques and self-care ideas that are great for coping with stress and keeping calm.

1. Take deep breaths

When we are stressed out, the first thing that we do is we stop breathing. Well, not literally stop breathing, because then we would die.

But we do unconsciously hold our breath because of increased tension in the muscles used for breathing.

So, when you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to breathe.

Deep breaths into your belly in for 3 seconds and out for 3 seconds.

Put your hand over your belly so that you can feel it filling up with air. Do these over and over until you feel a little calmer.

Repeat throughout the day as necessary.

It will help you A LOT. I promise.

2. Go for a walk

If it’s at all possible, take some time to go for a walk. There isn’t a woman I know who doesn't say that her stress levels are always greatly reduced after a walk.

The thing about walking is that it kills two bird with one stone.

Walking encourages deep breathing which calms you down quickly. 

Also, for many reasons, the motion of walking encourages clearer thinking.

The rhythm of the stride and the increased oxygen intake can make something that was extremely overwhelming just 20 minutes earlier much easier to manage.

3. Let the tears flow

When we are completely overwhelmed, and holding our breath as a result. we tend to keep our emotions bottled up deep inside of us. We are worried that if we let them out they will take us down.

I can tell you, from experience, that that just isn't the case.

One night, when I was particularly overwhelmed, a friend encouraged me to let those emotions out. To really sit with the overwhelming emotions as they crop up and let my body deal with them.

So, I did. I sat in the bathtub and cried. And cried. And cried.

I took many deep breaths in between sobs. I allowed my body to let go of what I was feeling

As I cried, my mind kept wandering off to ways that I could fix what was causing the overwhelm but I would pull it back. I knew that now was the time for feeling my feelings and that later I would try to fix it.

An hour later I emerged from the bathtub, exhausted. I went to bed and woke up in the morning, feeling great, ready to deal with my overwhelm.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, try doing what I did. Sit with your feelings.

Let your body process the emotions and let them go. When you do this, you are well on the way to being calm and relaxed.

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4. Make a list and prioritize

When you are feeling overwhelmed and tired, just thinking about all of the things that need to be done can shut you down for the day.

And shutting you down for the day is definitely not what you need because that will only lead to more overwhelm tomorrow!

A big part of being overwhelmed is knowing that you have a ton to do and lots of places to be but not knowing what exactly they are. The unknown can be petrifying.

So, take a minute and make a list of everything that you think needs to be done today.

Once you have a list, underline everything that really needs to be done today. And then take those underlined items and prioritize what needs to be done first, second and third. This is how to calm anxiety that comes with having too much on your plate. 

If you know exactly what needs to be done, and you can look at it in front of you, your overwhelm will immediately subside.

A big piece of overwhelm is the result of just not knowing what needs to be done. Making a list lets you figure it out.

5. Take it one step at a time

Once you have your list, and know your priorities, it’s important to start at the beginning. And take it one step at a time.

Another cause of overwhelm is that, in our heads, we jump too quickly ahead or start to visualize an end result that isn’t what we want it to be and so we get derailed.

I have a client who was miserable at work. She so wanted to get another job but the thought of doing so was completely overwhelming.

We talked it through and I learned that she was very intimidated by the prospect of working somewhere else.

I recognized what was happening. That she was so paralyzed by the end of the process that she couldn’t start the process.

If we picture the end without understanding the steps it can be totally overwhelming.

So, I suggested we start at the beginning.

First, we identified what the first step would be in her job search – work on her resume. Could she do that without getting too overwhelmed? Just that. Work on her resume. Nothing else.

She agreed that she could and so she did. A week later she had her resume ready and it was time for step two – looking, but not applying, for jobs.

Take each step on your journey individually.

And if something unexpected gets in the way, don’t give up. Handle it and then get back to your list and keep moving forward.

6. Write it out

Do you journal? Or write letters to yourself? Or scribble notes on post-its? If you do, great! If you don’t, it could be time to start this great self-care practice. 

Writing about things that are overwhelming you can be useful, especially if you don’t have someone with whom to share your stress.

Much like speaking, writing allows you to get your stress out of your head and onto paper.

And when you can see your stress on a piece of paper in front of you, instead of having it rolling around in your brain, it’s much easier to manage stress and anxiety.

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7. Do something for yourself

A key part of surviving through exhaustion and overwhelm is to do something to take care of yourself.

When we are at the end of our rope our tendency is to put ourselves on the back burner and everyone and everything ahead of us.

It’s important that we take even just a little bit of time to do something for ourselves and recharge our batteries.

What would work for you?

Perhaps it’s a walk or a run, a mid-morning croissant snack, tea with a friend, a pedicure or even a massage.

Whatever would work for you to make your day just a little more manageable. And ease the overwhelm.

8. Become reacquainted with your sofa

I know you are laughing at the thought of fitting a nap into your crazy day but if you possibly can it will make a huge difference.

Cat naps are proven to increase your alertness, speed up your motor performance, improve your accuracy and decision making, reduce stress and boost your creativity.

I am the queen of the 20-minute nap in the car.

I pull over in the shade or sun, depending on the season, put my seat back and snooze for 20 minutes.

When I wake up my energy levels are definitely up and I can get through the rest of my day.

So, try to make some time to snooze. It will be totally worth it!

9. Share your stress

Sharing your stress with another person is a key part of dealing with it.

They say that what is kept inside the head is 4x more intense than what is spoken.

Also, if you share your overwhelm you might learn something that will help you manage it. We all have things that work for us and sharing them with others can be very helpful.

If you have someone you can talk with about your overwhelm then absolutely do it.

Be it a therapist, a friend or a partner, let those overwhelming thoughts out of your head and into the world.

From there they have a reduced power and are easier to deal with.

If you want to get from overwhelmed to calm it is possible and it is possible to do so quickly.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed get outside and go for a walk, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Breathe deeply as you stride.

You will see that your overwhelm reduces significantly right away.

As you walk, consider what is overwhelming you and make a plan to fix it. Write it out. Take care of yourself. Cry. Share. Practice self-care.

Manage your overwhelm. Don’t let it manage you.

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Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.