We have all been there, “the day that never ends” the one that has you asking yourself “are you kidding me right now? What else could go wrong?” Maybe its work or maybe its family or maybe it’s both!
Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unable to cope with these feelings is a normal response when we are pushed past our capacity to manage. Here are 3 ways to begin coping and feel relief instantly.
- Change your Thoughts
Begin to notice your thinking. Are there themes to your thoughts? Are your thoughts stressful in nature and perpetuate feeling overwhelmed? Here is an example:
“This is too much”
“This is a terrible day”
“I can’t handle it”
Next, make a choice to argue your thoughts. Generalizing your experience is the biggest culprit of continuing the cycle of feeling overwhelmed! Try asking yourself: Is this true 100% of the time? Another trick is, think the opposite. Here is an example:
“This is a lot of stress for the moment. I can handle everything I am given”
“This moment is tough for me and I will get through it”
“I can get through this, as I have before”
- Change Your Behavior
Evaluate what actions (behaviors) you are choosing, in the moment, that maintain you feeling overwhelmed. Are you saying yes to too many people? Is your body/mind overstimulated by your environment? Then make an active choice to change your behavior. Here are some ways to practice this:
Give yourself a 5 minute break. NO EXCUSES ! Anyone can step away from anything for 5 minutes!
(Hint: Find a Bathroom, it’s the perfect excuse)
Practice saying No to tasks/responsibilities that will create addition stress
Breathe long, deep, slow breaths
- Practice Kindness
One of the most important ways to cope with stress and feeling overwhelmed is to practice kindness to yourself and others. People forget this often and it can make a huge difference in the ways we cope with stress. First, give yourself the gift of kindness- be patient with yourself and stop holding yourself to impossible standards! Give yourself credit and cut yourself a break!
Next, practice kindness towards others. Remember, everyone has their own journey in life and we often don’t know where others come from or their experiences- Chose to give people the benefit of the doubt-it will give you more peace.
Okay so this wasn’t as “Lightning Fast” as promised, but managing emotions is not always as logical and neat as we would like it to be! Remember the steps above when you are feeling overwhelmed or having a rough day. If these feelings become too difficult to bear, please seek professional help- we are here to help you improve your psychological well-being!
Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC
I wanted to continue talking about burnout because I think it impacts all of us at some point in our lives. In my practice, I have seen many people trying to push through the exhaustion, which only causes them further emotional and physical damage. What is burnout once again? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now that we have a sense of what burnout is, I encourage you to assess if burnout could impact your life.
I put together a list of things that could help you in coping more effectively when feeling physically and mentally exhausted.
Seek social support. I cannot stress enough how important social support is when you feel that you are at your breaking point. When you are burned out, you may feel helpless and hopeless. Isolation will only make things worse, that is why I encourage you to seek support from others. I encourage you to find a person who can listen to you and be supportive. You may also work on developing friendships with your coworkers as those relations can serve as a buffer from your mental exhaustion.
Get exercise. I know doing something physically active could be the last thing on your mind when you are feeling spent, but getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day can improve your mood. If you have difficulty getting yourself motivated to exercise, find someone, who will hold you accountable or cheer you on when you do exercise.
Improve your state of mind. Try to find something about your job that you like or value. I strongly encourage you to find some meaning in what you do. Focusing on those positive aspects of what you do that you actually enjoy. Those characteristic may change your attitude about work and help you find a sense of control, or a sense of purpose in what you do. That may also help you acquire balance in your life.
Focus on your priorities. What are your hopes, goals, values and dreams? Ask yourself if you have been neglecting any of those because of your high level of stress. After you do your homework evaluating your priorities, ask yourself if you need to slow down or change some of your patterns. Do you need to set appropriate boundaries with others? Maybe now is the time to learn when to say “no” at work. Do you need to allow yourself for more relaxation time?
Take time off. If possible, I encourage you to take a break from work if your feelings of mental and physical exhaustion are inevitable. Remove yourself from the work setting in order to recharge your batteries and be able to come back to work with a refreshed mind.
Take breaks. I also strongly encourage you to take regular breaks during work. If possible take a walk, stretch, have lunch away from your desk. This may help you get refreshed but also will allow you to increase your productivity. During those breaks, I also encourage you to put away your cell phone, laptop, etc. I want you to detach from work and other obligations when you are taking a break.
Focus on healthy eating habits. Reduce foods that negatively impact your mood, such as trans fats, high-carbohydrate foods, sugars, that quickly lead to “crash” in your energy level and mood. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood, such as fish and walnuts. Avoid nicotine, as nicotine is a stimulant and will lead to higher stress. Limit alcohol consumption as well, as alcohol is a depressant and can also cause anxiety after it wears off.
Find activities that you enjoy. I encourage you to find an activity that will take your attention away from the emotional and physical pain. Find activities that you look forward to because that will help you keep distracted from focusing on the negative events that are happening in your life. Force yourself to go for a walk, go hiking, go bike riding, go out to dinner, go to a movie, park etc. It is not easy to be active or involved in any activity, but doing something will make you feel more productive and most importantly, it will serve as a distraction!
Here are just a few things that you can do in order to work on improving your life. Dealing with burnout is not easy but it can be overcome with having adequate social support and taking appropriate steps to cope with it more effectively. I strongly encourage you to learn relaxation techniques in order to relieve stress and help regain your emotional balance. Work on setting priorities as those will aid you in making a list of all the areas in your life that you want to work on. I believe that every single person matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their lives and find meaning in what they do. I encourage you to work on being proactive, mindful, and take good care of yourself. As I mentioned previously, all of our therapists are fully committed to help you find ways to live a more fulfilling lives.
We all know that one woman- the one who is always willing, always ready to help out.
– “My babysitter quit and I have 30 minutes to get to a meeting, can you please help me? –“sure”
– “My car broke down, can you help me shop for another one?” –“yes”
– “Can you help me with my taxes?” – “yes”
Sometimes we call these women mom, and sometimes they’re our besties- I like to call them self-appointed Superwomen.
Self-Appointed Superwomen are amazing, strong and we are lucky to have them- But just like every superhero, even Superwomen have their kryptonite. Saying “yes” in excess can often lead to increased stress, anxiety, resentment and unhealthy relationships.
Self-appointed Superwomen often feel guilt when they say “no”. They may falsely believe that if they don’t help, no one else will. They may have unrealistic expectations of themselves; feeling responsible for the happiness or wellbeing of others. Some may lack the self-worth to prioritize themselves.
Here are some ways to practice saying “no” and to begin to prioritize yourself:
- Increase Self-Care- When we begin to prioritize ourselves, we practice self-love and begin to understand that we “can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self Care can be taking a 15 min walk or watching your favorite show- as long as it is something that fills you up.
- Take the “S” off your Chest (Props Danielle Langford)- Give yourself permission to let go of the responsibility to solve other’s problems. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness or wellbeing.
- Give yourself time- Instead of saying “yes”; ask “can I think about it?” Then, evaluate if the request is something you can manage. Ask yourself how you feel about completing this task. If you’re feeling resentful or angry- it’s time to say “no”
- Create healthy and strong boundaries- The toughest people to say “no” to, are the ones we love. Be open about how you’re feeling, let your loved ones know if you feel stressed or overworked. Helpo empower others to resolve their issues instead of relying on you.
- Be Firm, Be clear and remember, No excuses needed when you say no!
Saying “no” has benefits such as feeling empowered; it can lead to higher levels of self-worth, increase productivity and can help manage stress and anxiety.
Check out The Centered Life Women’s Empowerment Workshop which goes into greater detain on the importance of learning to say no.
Valerie Spiropoulos, LCPC
As much as we would like to unwind at the end of the day, it can be difficult to turn off your mind before going to sleep. Stress can cause your bedtime routine to consist of worrying about anything you forgot to do today and making sure you remember everything that has to get done tomorrow. That is mentally exhausting and affecting your ability to get a restful sleep, to say the least.
Adults should average 7-8 hours of sleep per night; about 40% of Americans do not even come close! Even minimal sleep loss hinders your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. There is a big difference between getting enough sleep to function and getting enough sleep to function optimally. Improving your pre bedtime routine is essential if you want better sleep. Here is a list of ways to decrease anxiety and stress levels before bedtime in order to give your mind and body the rest it craves!
1.Set a worry time period for earlier in the day. Take 10-15 minutes mid day to make a list of things you need to get done in order to decrease racing worrying thoughts at night. This also prepares you for the next day.
2. Create a pre- sleep routine. Set aside 30 minutes for this. The mind needs you to separate your day from your night. Whatever consistent behaviors you put in routine will trigger your mind and body to relax and prepare for bed.
3. Aim to be in bed around the same time every night. This can be difficult, however your internal clock needs to be regulated in order to improve sleep hygiene.
4. Replace worrying with productive behaviors before your bedtime routine that will prepare you for the next day. You can lay out your clothes, prepare meals, review your to-do list, put coats/shoes/bags by the door, etc.
5. Practice relaxation techniques to calm anxiety and racing thoughts. Take a long, deep breath, in through your nose, noticing your abdomen rise. Hold the breath briefly. Exhale the breath as your abdomen deflates. Repeat this cycle between 6 to 10 times. There are many phones apps such as “Calm” that have guided breathing exercises to follow in order to ease your mind and body.
6. Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake later in the day. The effects of caffeine can last at least 4 hours.
7. Create an optimal sleep environment. Make sure your bed is comfortable. Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet. If you are someone who needs noise to sleep then try a white noise machine and put a timer on it so that it will not disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
8. Increase physical activity. Aim to exercise 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Cardiovascular endurance helps the body decrease stress and regulate your mood. This will decrease feelings of anxiety and stress while preparing for bed.
9. Avoid using electronic devices before bed. Our circadian rhythms are sensitive to the blue light given off when using phones, computers, TVs, and tablets; which can cause a barrier to your body releasing sleep hormones.
10. Reserve your bed for sleep. Try not to text, watch TV, or do work tasks while in bed. This will trigger the body to begin to relax once you get into bed for sleep.
11. Increase positive thoughts before bed. The thoughts you have before falling asleep affect your unconscious mind and can make it difficult to have a restful sleep. Stay focused on your pre bedtime routine and remind yourself you have prepared to handle tomorrow. Staying present will help decrease anxious thoughts as well.
Healthy sleep is critical for your mental and physical health. Almost half of Americans do not receive the amount of sleep they need in order to function at their best. Try this above checklist for even a few days and see how your mood and energy are positively affected!