Have you ever felt like the tighter you try to hold onto the reins of your life, the more they yank you forward? With so many competing responsibilities and stresses, it’s only a matter of time when we lose our grip.
It’s a disorienting experience. It can feel like you’ve lost all momentum and direction, and that your life has come to a complete halt. In these paralyzing moments, it’s difficult to know what to do next. There’s a sense of powerlessness that can overtake you when everything you used to hold onto is slipping away.
But you aren’t powerless.
While it’s totally normal to feel the heavy burden of stress every now and then, it’s in our power to find ways to manage the stress when it becomes too heavy to shoulder. Finding the right strategies can help you retrieve your grip when faced with unexpected adversity.
Here are five ways you can try when you feel like life is getting out of control.
When you feel overwhelmed by stress, it can be difficult to know where to start. Stress triggers many different emotions, which is why the first thing you can do is acknowledge and accept how you feel. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel powerless. It’s okay to feel like everything is out of control. When you name what you’re feeling, you then have the ability to tame it. Once your feelings are named and accepted, you can begin to re-frame your thoughts and feelings in a way that is less overwhelming and more manageable. By re-framing your mindset, you are reminding yourself what is in your power to control and letting go of what is out of your control.
Set Small Goals
When life feels out of control, it can be difficult to find the focus to complete the simplest of tasks. Setting small goals can improve your productivity and confidence in your ability to affect your life. These goals can stem from positive habits you’ve already established such as reading for thirty minutes a day, working out once a week, or even going through your mail. These goals are not meant to be lofty. The simpler they are, the better.
Regaining control of your life doesn’t always happen overnight. You could have two very good days followed by one lousy day. It happens. When the tides feel like they’re turning, mindful meditation is a method that can soften the tidal wave crashing against shore. You could take a minute while sitting at your desk, sit cross-legged on the floor, or lie down in a quiet room with a woven towel draped over your body. Practising mindfulness helps actualize mental clarity and emotional stability. Developing a habit of checking-in on the more difficult days can help you bear the burden of stress before it grows too heavy.
When stress and anxiety threaten to take away your control, practising gratitude helps ground you in the present moment. Taking the time to notice and reflect upon the things we’re thankful for elicits more positive emotions, expresses more compassion and kindness, and can help us let go of the negative feelings associated with feeling out of control. Practising gratitude shifts our perspective from pessimism to optimism so that we realize that our fears and anxieties, although valid, are not insurmountable. Instead, gratitude shifts our attention away from pain and toward remembering what makes us happy and thankful.
Write It Down
During perilous times, it can be very difficult to process and express how we’re feeling. Journaling is an opportunity to work through the stresses and anxieties we feel when life feels out of control. Journaling is a way to express our innermost thoughts in a completely non-judgmental space.
You don’t have to be a writer to journal. In fact, there are many ways to approach journaling. You could write down a bullet list of your thoughts and feelings, create drawings, or address your journal entry as a letter to whomever you’d feel most comfortable confiding your feelings to. If you don’t know where to start, you could start with a simple prompt: I am. It doesn’t matter how messy or incoherent you think it is. What matters most is your willingness to sit down and put your thoughts on the page. Over time, you’ll find a greater understanding of how you feel when overwhelmed by stress, and why you feel that way.
Learning to Let Go
Life is bound to get out of control from time to time as both internal and external forces intervene in our lives. While we continue to learn different ways of overcoming our stresses and anxieties, it’s important to know when you need to let go of the reins. We don’t always have to be in control of everything. Sometimes, we need to let go in order to move forward.
Written by Eleni Zaptses