5 strategies for when you're feeling overwhelmed

by - June 19, 2015

As much as I can't wait to start a new life with my boyfriend north of the border, sometimes the whole thing just seems so overwhelming.

Not only will we be officially moving in together for the first time but I'll also be dealing with a whole new city, new state and a new job. My friends and family will be back here and I'll be up there - just a phone call away but definitely not just down the road for a quick coffee and catch up when I need it.

The logistics of the move also seem a bit much for me to get my head around at times. Which furniture should I move? What should I sell? How much should I keep in storage?

I've been told that feeling overwhelmed is completely normal in my situation but in reality that doesn't make things feel any easier. So I've done the research and found a definite consensus among the experts about coping strategies that might be helpful for anyone feeling that mountain might be a little too high to climb.

1. Accept it

Worrying about how you feel or trying to sweep your feelings under the carpet certainly isn't going to help. By acknowledging how you're responding to a certain situation, you're accepting that what you're feeling is OK. “It’s normal to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent,” says psychologist Marla Deibler. "Think of it as as riding out a wave".

2. Change your thoughts

Easier said than done, right? Maybe not. Psychologist Kevin Chapman told the website PsychCentral: "It’s the unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that spark our stressed-out reaction. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what we tell ourselves and learn to create helpful thoughts." Big to-do list at work? Instead of stressing about how you're never going to get it all done, tell yourself: "I might not get through this list today but let's take four tasks from my list and make sure they're finished by the end of the day". By breaking the big picture into smaller parts, what you need to achieve seems far more do-able.

3. Focus on right now

Constantly worrying about what may or may not happen in the future won't change anything. One thing it will do though is take away the present moment. I recently remarked to a friend that I wished the next six months were over and I could fast forward to a time when I'd be settled in a new home with my boyfriend. Her response? "But think of all the amazing stuff that might happen on the journey". Wise words.

4. Take a deep breath

"Deep breathing encourages our body’s relaxation response," says Deibler. Try this simple exercise to reduce stress:
  • To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four — all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath.
  • Aim for six to eight counts per breath with the same goal in mind: calm the nervous system, increase focus and reduce stress. 

5. Get active

Getting out of the space you're in — whether it's home or the office —can do wonders and help you clear your head and collect your thoughts. Even a walk around the block is sometimes enough to make things seem more manageable. Listening to music or reading a book can have the same effect if you're feeling less active. Use this time to let your mind consider what is really causing your feelings of being overwhelmed and how they might be addressed.

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