Take Care of Yourself When You Feel Overwhelmed

Breathe in. Breathe out.

When you have personal balance, you’re better at taking care of yourself and others.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed even in the course of everyday life—from meeting the demands of work and family life to dealing with rush projects and deadlines, a lot can come up in your average day. But what happens when your world turns upside down? That overwhelmed feeling can become more intense than you ever imagined.

Bad times can bring out the best in people—you see neighbors become heroes, witness helpers emerge from nowhere, and discover personal strengths you didn’t know you had. However, being your best in a time of crisis is not always an easy accomplishment. It can be physically and emotionally draining to handle your own needs and the needs of others, especially when tensions are high.

Do yourself a favor and, to paraphrase the emergency airplane instructions, put your own mask on first.

Consider these three tips to find balance in an overwhelming world.

Eat, Sleep, Repeat. When you’re stressed out, it’s easy to forget the basics, but getting a good night’s sleep and eating regularly can really make a difference.

Skipping meals can lead to fatigue and brain fog—which won’t help anyone—so remembering to eat throughout the day and to drink plenty of water can help you stay calm and capable.

Anything to give your days a sense of normalcy, like the routines of going to bed and waking up early, and eating your meals at certain times, will add structure and provide comfort. If you find it difficult to unwind and fall asleep at the end of the day because your thoughts are racing, turn off your mobile devices and read a book or write in a journal.

Meditate and Reflect. Journaling at the end of the day or first thing in the morning can help you process whatever is happening in your life. If you worry about becoming hyper-focused on a single, negative subject, challenge yourself to respond to a writing prompt and think outside your day-to-day happenings. Write down one positive thing that happened to you, revisit a warm memory, or transcribe a powerful quote that motivates you.

Perhaps writing isn’t the right outlet for you, so consider simply taking the time to sit in stillness. To keep your mind from wandering, search for a guided meditation (available for free on YouTube or through an app like Headspace or Calm). You can also choose to repeat a relaxing yet powerful phrase (like “May you be happy”) to help you center yourself. 

Search for Inspiration. In times of uncertainty, it is easy to see only the road ahead and no end to the journey. Like any big task, it can help to break down your accomplishments. What makes this day a good one? Taking a look at what gets you through each day can help you reestablish your purpose. Celebrate whatever small wins and goals you reach—taking a hot shower, sending an email, receiving a compliment, drinking a hot cup of tea—and remember that you got through this day.

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