There are moments in life which overwhelm to the point of almost being consumed by the situation. That moment can be a cancer, miscarriage, job loss, divorce, car accident, medical or mental health crisis or death of a loved one. Processing small decisions such as what to eat for breakfast, which clothes to wear and finding energy to tackle small projects seem to take forever. Unfortunately we all experience these moments and it is inescapable. I personally dealt with my own fair share of overwhelming moments with a major car accident, miscarriage and dealing with job loss in our family, to name a few. So what can you do? Here are my top 3 tips when life overwhelms you.
Quick note: I am not a mental heath professional and this post does not replace professional mental health advice. This is only my personal experience.
When life became rocky often I would try to avoid dealing with the situation by being even busier than before. In the short term it is easier to avoid the situation. I learned by delaying to deal with the situation and staying busy I was only prolonging and increasing my pain. You need to give yourself space to acknowledge, accept and process what is going on. Often we will add more to our schedule to stay busy and not take the time to process what has occurred. Set as side some time to pray, journal, take walks and rest. Filling your schedule with busy to-dos and extra work will only delay dealing with impact of your situation. Think of your emotional state as a pressure cooker, you can only hold the pressure for so long before it becomes too much and you explode.
Recently my husband’s company made cut backs in positions and he unexpectedly lost his job. We were stunned, shattered and scared since we were a single income family. I will never forget his phone call as he drove back from his meeting. Afterwards I kept starting one project then switch to another and finally another. The amount of work I needed to finish was the same, but my energy and capacity was short. Once I realized I was processing the situation and in shock I immediately focused on the bare necessities for the first couple of days.
If you are in this situation, simplify your life down to the absolute must complete tasks. Every morning or the night before write down three things you must accomplish. Paper plates, quick food and sweatpants are okay for the short term. In the beginning your three things may be 1) shower 2) eat 3) talk to friends. For the first couple of days it may only be three things on your list. Eventually add one or two new things to your list. As each day passes your energy and ability to focus will slowly increase.
Gratitude and Truth
During such overwhelming moments I can begin a negative party and invite fear, anxiety and discouragement as well. I found in these moments I need to surround myself with gratitude and truth. Gratitude for small blessings; such as sunshine, clothes to wear, food to eat, or the love of dear family and friends. Truth is crucial because in these overwhelming moments we can think very negative thoughts about ourselves or others. Personally, I go to the Bible to center myself on the truth. I remind myself of 1 Peter 5:7,“Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you.” Also Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” These verses remind me I am not alone in my pain and God is with me.
What has helped you go through overwhelming moments? I would love to hear, please share in the comments below.