Often it can feel like the whole weight of the world is resting on your shoulders and it’s only a matter of time until you get crushed under it. Problems upon problems pile on top of each other and all of a sudden, you are in an overwhelming state of anxiety and exhaustion that hinders you from doing… well, anything.
That is exactly what happened to me last year. Some pretty huge life changes hit me all at once; I lost a close family member and simultaneously went through what the Internet tells me is called post-graduation depression. Everything was stacking up; I was grieving and felt an enormous and terrifying amount of pressure to have it all figured out the second I was handed my Bachelor’s degree (…which I didn’t).
All of these life events left me in a state of feeling so overwhelmed that it felt impossible to do anything. I was trapped in a paralyzing mental prison where even menial tasks seemed like mountains I would never be able to overcome. To put it simply – I felt pretty damn overwhelmed with my whole life.
Steps to getting your inner peace back
☯︎ As always, I’d love to hear from you and your experiences – have you ever been in a state of feeling utterly overwhelmed? If so, what helped you to get out of it? ☯︎
Take an emotional time-out
Like a lot of other people, I (gladly) abstained from going on holiday last summer. Yet I missed the excitement of discovering a new place, of getting lost while aimlessly wondering around and of spending a few days of pure, relaxed fun surrounded by the people I love. So when one of my best friends and I hung out for a weekend, we were determined to recreate just that…. at home, in our own city. So we did. And let me tell you, it worked wonders and left me feeling more balanced and at peace again.
We went to the supermarket and splurged on all of the fancy items we had always wanted to try. We made a brunch reservation at a cafe we had been dying to go to. We put on our best outfits and visited spots that had been on our lists for ages, wondered around and practiced our street photography skills, went from one book shop to another, bought book souvenirs and walked around parks whilst eating overpriced ice cream. At night we made bruschetta, drank gin&tonics and played Scrabble.
It was the perfect weekend escape – one that I will always hold close to my heart. For in the first time that felt like forever, I was present in the moment again: enjoying little things, laughing without a care in the world and cracking bad jokes with my friend. I truly felt as though I was on holiday – a vacation from my own life and the worries that had been weighing on me. That weekend granted me the emotional time-out I didn’t know I needed so badly.
Express your feelings
It’s important to express how the issues weighting on you are making you feel. What are you feeling? How have your worries been affecting you and your life? What are you afraid of? Try discussing this with a close friend or family member; Someone who will truly listen.
I found that by discussing these things with close friends, I was able to get a large chunk of worries off of my chest whilst reflecting on why I felt the way I did. What I learnt is that it’s okay to seek out emotional support during difficult times. In fact, it is essential. Often, an outside perspective is needed in order for us to see our issues in a different light. Expressing how you feel can be a release in itself – and doing this in the company of a loved one or close friend can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance.
Reevaluate the issues weighing on you
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a hard and long look at your life and to break it down into simple list items. What has been weighing on you? What are the fears or thoughts that have been making it hard for you to get tasks done? What has brought you joy recently or made you feel proud of yourself? What are some of your recent accomplishments? No matter how small these items may seem, include them.
I recommend writing all of this down as a means to add a visual dimension to the good and the bad. What I found is that there were far more positive items than I had expected. These ranged from bigger accomplishments like receiving my degree to smaller ones like learning how to sew, spending more time with my family and finding joy and excitement through cooking and baking new recipes.
It’s the little things, I’m telling you. At the time, they may seem insignificant or non-important but they can also produce the biggest smiles. It is important that we recognize these moments and appreciate them. They can prop us up even when we feel like we are about to fall.
…and celebrate BIG! It’s time to start being proactive instead of reactive. Break down the tasks you need to accomplish into smaller steps. Start with some smaller tasks and be sure to treat yourself when you accomplish them.
What helped me tremendously was visualizing my tasks so that my progress and accomplishments could be tracked more easily. You can do this by simply checking off an item from your TO-DO list or using visual board tools such as Trello (read more about how I use Trello here). By doing this, your tasks will seem more manageable and you will start to feel like you are accomplishing things again.
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