Mental health, stress, worry; it affects all of us in one way or another. It is as important to look after our mind as it is our body, perhaps even more so because how we think and feel about ourselves and our lives can have a direct impact on how we treat our own body.
After battling with my own mental health over the years, I’ve become very in tune with my feelings to know what I need and when I need it. I know that I’m an anxious person whose mind is constantly going and while I can put on a bloody good front on the outside, on the inside, I’m often bubbling away until suddenly I become so overwhelmed that I feel as though I could burst with emotion. When I feel like this, everyday seems as though its groundhog day and negative thoughts and experiences easily overshadow the positive.
You can have what seems like the most perfect life in the world filled with so many amazing things but that doesn’t mean that you’re living your best life at your happiest with a healthy, positive mindset.
I’m sure so many of us have felt like this from time to time and the important thing is being able to acknowledge when you’re feeling that way early on, work out what it is that you need to make yourself feel better and having the courage to pull yourself out of it.
Please always remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I’ve felt like this at so many points in my life but its this year that I am determined to combat these feelings and now that we’re into the fourth month, I feel as though I’m starting to get a handle on it and I’m ready to talk about what works for me… or at least what is working for me so far.
My top tips for what to do when it all gets too much…
ITS OK NOT TO BE OK
Firstly, you need to realise that its ok not to be ok. If you need help, you need help, its as simple as that. Nothing is too trivial, if it matters to you then it is significant. There is no shame in acknowledging that things are getting on top of you and that you are reaching out for help.
As hard as it may seem, look to the good in each situation and when you’re faced with a mammoth task, visualise how awesome you’ll feel when you’ve accomplished it. There’s a lot that can be said for positive thinking and while it also requires positive action, keeping out of a negative mindset will steer you on the right track.
TAKE A BREAK
When everything’s getting on top of you and you can’t see a way out of all of the stuff that you have to do or worry about, my first bit of advice is to take a break.
It doesn’t have to be for very long, even just grabbing a fifteen minute breather can help. Get outside, walk around and clear your head. Walk mindfully, take in your surroundings, focus on your breath and appreciate what’s around you. Taking time out of your day when you have so much on may seem like a waste of time but its a great way to divert your attention from what needs to be done, to calm you down and chill you out so that you can start thinking more clearly.
Sometimes taking a break can mean something a little longer. It might be that you could really do with a spa day, weekend away or a two week holiday in the Costa Del Sol. Whatever it is, listen to your body and mind and if you’re able to, make it happen. Sometimes I’d give anything to be locked in the house with a power cut just to have a break haha!
TALK TO A FRIEND
When the going gets tough, that’s when you really need your friends. In the last year, I’ve really learnt who my real friends are and there’s been a few who have become the most amazing confidents.
I have one friend in particular who is a total go-getter. She’s packed full of positivity, is so motivated and really good at focusing on what needs to be done. She’s the one I can call up crying when everything’s getting on top of me and she’ll help me to prioritise, focus and will often come over to help me. I couldn’t be more grateful for having such a positive, proactive force in my life.
It really is true that a problem shared is a problem halved so if you’re feeling mega stressed out and as though everything is getting too much for you, then talk to someone. Tell them whats bothering you, let them know you’re struggling and ask for help if you need it. There may be something that they can do to help you; don’t be afraid to delegate. If you’re the kind of friend who would help them out in their time of need, then they’re not going to be mad at you when you need them.
Whoever you turn to, friend, family member, stranger or samaritan, just know that they’re there to help you. Its ok for you to cry on their shoulders and scream out in frustration and its certainly ok for you to accept help from them too.
Meditation may not sound like your kinda thing; I’ll admit, it wasn’t mine until recent years when I downloaded the Calm App and had mindfulness classes to help with my anxiety and panic attacks. Meditating, even for a five minutes can calm you right down and focus your mind. Its a real skill that you need to learn and develop but once you’ve cracked it, the art of meditation could really help you when you feel as though everything is getting on top of you.
Often its difficult to focus on the present when we’re feeling overwhelmed by a hectic lifestyle which is why meditating is so essential as not only is it very good at reducing stress levels but its great for getting you to focus on the here and now as well.
TAKE A NAP & GET AN EARLY NIGHT
I’m a firm believer that a lot of good can be achieved from a nap and a good nights sleep. When I had an accident several years ago, I really struggled mentally as well as physically. I used to be someone who could keep all the plates spinning at once but suddenly I’d become someone who found everything so overwhelming and I’d be that stressed out and worried that I couldn’t seem to get anything done let alone one thing.
When the day isn’t working out, when you’re feeling sad, exhausted or stressed out, there’s no shame in taking yourself off to bed for a half an hour power nap. I sometimes do this and play the celestial beams track from the Calm App while I’m dozing off. I lie there and focus on the music and breathing deeply, along the same lines as meditation but if I feel myself drifting off then I allow myself to. When I wake back up, I see it as a fresh start, a clean slate and I start to work my way down my to-do list.
While its not always convenient to go for a nap, what is essential is having an early night with plenty of rest. Generally if you’re feeling overwhelmed and as though you can’t cope, the chances are you’ll also be exhausted at the same time and its so much easier to feel as though you can’t cope when you’re shattered. Even if you have a mountain of work to do, get an early night, rest up and your mind, soul and body will thank you for it in the morning. She says typing this at 4am!
TRACK YOUR FEELINGS
When you feel overwhelmed with stress and you’re working on improving your life and situation, its important to acknowledge the little milestones, the quick wins and the things that make you feel successful. Track your feelings be it in the notes section of your phone or written down on paper in a notebook.
When you’re tracking how you’re feeling, its easier to see when your mood is starting to improve and its easier to notice triggers for low mood, poor self care and low productivity too, particularly if you’ve recorded the amount of hours that you’ve slept for as this often goes hand in hand. This article on Buzzfeed has logs of great examples of how to track feelings and emotions.
LIST, PRIORITISE, DELEGATE & IGNORE
If it feels as though you physically haven’t got enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to make a list of the things that you need to do. Prioritising tasks, delegating efficiently and ignoring unnecessary tasks are a must here.
List the top three things that you must get done and write them in order of priority. If it helps, list next to those the mini tasks that you need to do in order to complete them. Be brutal when you’re prioritising and try not to let your decision be clouded by emotion as far too often we make decisions based on our heart rather than our head especially if we’re tired. Its best to focus on the things that we MUST get done before looking at the things that would be nice if we were to complete them. Its easy to end up procrastinating with these things.
Delegate tasks to your friends and family that don’t need to be done by you so that you can focus on the things that you must complete. For example, if you’re stressing out about having to go get food shopping and post parcels as well as finishing a report for work, you focus on the report and kindly ask your friend if they could swing by the supermarket for you. What, out of the things that you have to do, do you not actually need to do? These tasks need to be ignored; you’ve got more important things to focus on.
STREAMLINE YOUR AVENUES & WORK SMARTER
One of my big focuses this year is on streamlining what I’m doing work wise and my goal is to achieve the work/life balance that I’ve longed for over the years.
Last summer my life changed dramatically and suddenly I was on this track where I just had to keep going and going. I couldn’t stop because there was so much uncertainty in my life. I said yes to work projects outside of my blog that I didn’t really want to do but I took them on because I felt as though I had to and soon enough, I was living like a hamster on a wheel, just going round and round, unable to get off.
There’s more about this in another post coming up but my best advice to you all is to know when to say no, streamline your work and work smarter. When you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have so many different things to do, if you’re able to get rid of some and put more time, effort and focus on a smaller amount, you can often be far more successful. I mostly find that this is the case because your mind isn’t having to focus on so many different things!
The greatest lesson to be learned here though is when to say no. Looking after yourself has to be your main priority so when things are getting too much, don’t feel obliged to take on anything extra, go to that party that you don’t really want to go to or get involved in that extra work or university project.
Saying no is really powerful because it gives you control over your life… try it!
SHOP MY OUTFIT
If you love the outfit that I’m wearing in this post then you can shop it on the links above. Its cool, casual and perfect for a spring day whether you’re running errands, going to the park with the kids or shopping with friends.
The top that I’m wearing is from CurveWOW and they’re offering my readers 10% OFF when they use the discount code WhatLauraLoves10. I’m sure you’ll have seen these designer inspired t shirts everywhere, they look gorgeous whether you’re dressing them up or down! This one is a really soft, stretchy and generous fit so I’d keep that in mind when ordering. I got mine in a 22 but I think I could have easily ordered a 16 or 18.
What do you do when it all gets too much? What advice would you give to someone else?