4 Ways To Recover When You’re Overwhelmed

Overwhelm Is Real; Try This And Feel Better Faster

Yesterday, I was on a call with my coach (because we all need coaches to help us get where we want to go faster) and almost started crying. And by almost, I mean I did.

It was a meeting I desperately needed and, as we were deep in brainstorming mode, chaos ensued.

My 9 year old decided playing the piano in the next room was a better use of her time than being in school, my dogs came in my small office barking and fighting, and a service man arrived at my door early (when does that happen?).

When I went outside after the meeting, I discovered the dogs dug a shin-deep hole in my yard (I really wish I was exaggerating, but alas I'm not).

Another day, my kid climbed up on my desk while I was in a coaching session and peered over the computer, exposing the entire inside of her nose to a poor (and incredibly patient) client.

You get it. I'm sure you're got your own stories, too.

What embarrassing/frustrating pandemic-induced things have happened to you on a work call? Share in the comments so we can call commiserate. Please?

When these things happen, it's so easy to get angry and overwhelmed. Believe me, I get it.

The question is less how do we avoid these situations, but rather: How do we recover when things don't go the way we want, expect or need?

I used to believe the more I tried to control things, the more they'd go the way I needed. But ultimately, it just led me to spin out, feel more anxious and get more rigid and brittle.

The only thing we ever truly have control over is our minds.

Recovery from Reaction is one of the most important practices you can commit to.

Recovery can look a lot of ways, and will vary depending on the context, person and your mood. What's most important is finding what works for you: having a few tools in your pocket you know you can turn to quickly can make the difference between a full-on spiral and a minor shake-up.

Here are several science-backed methods to try:

1. Taking deep breaths:

When we get stressed, we breathe more shallowly but this actually makes us more stressed. 

Focus by inhaling through your nose for 4, holding for 4, exhaling through your nose for 4 and holding for 4. This method, called Box Breathing, is how the Navy Seals calm themselves.

If it can work for hostage situations, it can work for us because, let’s be honest, when we’re dealing with kids, sometimes it kinda feels the same, amiright?

2. Journaling:

Sometimes we just want to vent, but don’t want anyone to hear the victimy/judgey/spiteful things we’re thinking. While I definitely don’t advocate for staying in that mindset, trying to ignore or pretend you don’t have those thoughts is actually taking up a lot of precious energy. 

Instead, try journaling. It’s such a perfect place to “clear the trash” and get out all that stuff spinning around in your head. Don’t edit yourself - just get it all out. It can be a very cathartic release that often helps you identify what’s actually going on underneath the surface. 

If you’re concerned about someone seeing it later, you can burn the paper (also very cathartic!) or try journaling online. I love 750words.com, but a Google doc works great too.

3. Exercising:

Moving your body is one of the best ways to release pent-up energy, which we get nearly anytime we experience heightened emotions (positive or negative).

The key here is to do what feels good to you, not suffer through something that feel terrible during and after. 

There’s no one right way to exercise, so whatever gets you moving, go for it! Maybe it’s Zumba in the living room, a long walk late at night, yoga by candlelight, or lifting weights to hardcore metal. 

I notice that if I go a few days without exercise (because, life), I start to get more stressed more easily. Because it’s gradual, it can be hard to correlate the two, but I’ve done it enough times to see the effect. Start paying attention and you’ll likely notice the same. 

4. Talking to someone:

We are a tribal species and built for connection so recovering from someone else is often the best cure for a spin.

When I say “recover from”, I don’t mean they can fix you. Have you ever noticed that everyone has different energy and most people you know bring different qualities to the relationship? Maybe someone always makes you laugh, another provides depth and wisdom, and a third is super empathetic. Each of these qualities - even without the other person even realizing it’s happening - can help pull us out of a funk and feel better fast.

Think about what would help you in the moment. Is it a good laugh to get you out of your head? A shoulder to cry on? A safe space to say all the “mean/bad” things you’re thinking 

BTW, I absolutely think we need those people we can say anything to - especially the judgey, catty stuff - because we’re not bad people; we’re human. You just don’t want to stay there: relationships built on negativity are very toxic for us. 

Now more than ever, we need ways to help us recover because we’re getting tested all the time. Yesterday, I was able to see the bright spots in the fog: at least my daughter likes piano. And, now, thanks to the dogs, I have a head-start on a pool for the summer. 🙄

There are SO many options and this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Now it’s your turn! Share in the comments what your favorite recovery tools are! The one you share could be exactly the tip someone needed to turn around their day.

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