What to Do When You’re Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed

Sharing a few coping mechanisms for stress which might be helpful for you today.‍

As a busy twenty-one year old, I can confidently say that stress has often gotten the better of me. I'm not the kind of person who leaves things to the last minute. However, I stress about deadlines right up until they are 100% complete. 

One might say that this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when that stress weighs too heavily on your shoulders, it can often impact your mental health and general well-being. As a result of my stress, I often become extremely anxious, inhibiting myself from thinking logically about a situation and unable to view it in perspective. 99% of the time, I am stressing about something that is not going to have a major impact on my life (even though it seems it will at the time). 

This year has been quite challenging for me, as I’ve recently had to start working in groups. I can no longer receive a project and complete it right away so that it doesn’t feel like a ton of bricks on my shoulders. Instead, my assignments are all works in progress and I have to carry the bricks for a while, unloading them one at a time. I've had to deal with this concept of "one step at a time". In doing so, I’ve managed to develop a few coping mechanisms for my stress which I thought I’d share with you today.

Do not worry about things you can’t control

I had what felt like a groundbreaking discovery the other day after viewing a particular video in class.

The video reminded me not to worry about the things that are out of my control (or the things that are in my control, for that matter). Say you’re worried about an issue at work. If you can do something to fix the issue, then there’s no value in worrying. But say you’re worried about something you can’t control (like the way a customer is going to react when you provide bad news). If you can’t control it, then again, worrying is simply wasted energy. If anything, worrying will actually make matters worse. Who would have thought? I told you this was groundbreaking stuff!

Give your body and mind time to relax

Now, I’m not talking about sitting in front of the television watching series until you nod off! I'm talking about getting out, into an open space, where you can breathe and your mind can wander. As humans, we push ourselves to give 100% of our attention to our everyday activities. However, we can easily get caught up in these and exhaust our minds with never ending to-do lists and nagging thoughts. It is so important to find something that will help you release all that stress and let your mind recharge. 

Often in moments like this, we allow ourselves to think creatively and laterally without being constrained. This requires you to switch off! Switching off can be anything, like switching off your laptop at 7pm, eating your breakfast while watching the sunrise instead of scrolling through Instagram, or even just taking your dogs for a walk every evening before you have dinner.  You'd be surprised what a difference this can make.

Breathe

This may seem like a simple one. However, taking a minute to stop and just concentrate on your breathing will help calm your body and your mind. It’s quick, simple, and can be a great way to relieve some stress right at your desk.

A great breathing technique is to breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. I like to breathe in for ten seconds and then breathe out for ten seconds. If your mind is buzzing at the office, or you are having trouble sleeping at night, this is a great way to calm down and to force yourself to relax. Another technique is to count each breath in and each breath out. Count them up to ten and then start over. Just placing your hand on your chest and feeling the movement of your breath can also help. Follow your breath through, imagining that you are breathing in all the good and breathing out all the bad. 

There are even some great apps you can download to your phone for a little relaxation everywhere you go. Looking for a little more guidance? Confetti has a meditation class available for booking. 

Look at your problems in perspective

Go outside, take a look at the night sky and just take a minute to realize that we are merely a spec of dust in an infinite universe. In the bigger scheme of things, the problems and stress that you are feeling right now are a minor part of your life. When you think back over the past five years of your life, you don’t think about the time you were late for an important meeting, or that deadline that was giving you grey hairs, or even that silly argument you had with your significant other, which at the time caused you so much grief. Do you know why? It's because life is bigger than that. 

Whatever problems you are going through now are simply life lessons that are growing and shaping you as a person. So, take a minute to acknowledge your feelings of stress and anxiety. Instead of trying to beat them, just accept them and know that it really will be okay in the end.

Get rid of the critic in your head

I don't know about you, but I know this voice far too well. Although you may not always realize it, this little voice can have a major negative impact on your stress level.  The goal is to try and identify the criticism and calm it down. We often get caught up in the voice and work ourselves up to a point where we stop our logical and rational thinking, disabling our ability to actually deal with the problem at all. As soon as you hear the voice popping into your head, just stop and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, you can only take one step at a time and it is okay to feel a little bit anxious and overwhelmed. It’s all part of life. Your self criticism will only encourage stress and inhibit creativity and lateral thinking. We don't need that kind of negativity in our lives. 

Now, if you’re still feeling stressed, rundown and you just don’t quite know how to deal with it, go for a little stroll with a friend, look outside and admire the beauty around you, take a warm bath and listen to Jack Johnson, eat a pizza in bed, take deep breaths and count to ten, light some candles and have a glass of wine, cuddle up to someone special, and of course my personal favorite, have a cup of tea and don't forget the biscuit. I pinky promise you will feel a little bit better than you did before. 

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