Here’s a harsh reality that few people are willing to accept - a lot of the things that happen in your life are completely out of your control. Ouch. And the global pandemic that we’ve endured for the last two years doesn’t make that pill any easier to swallow. Double ouch.
However, none of this changes the fact that it can be really stressful to feel like you aren’t in control of your life. It can be overwhelming when you’re trying to manage a lot of things at once, just to realize that there’s little you can do to change the situation. So what do you do?
What is Acceptance?
Acceptance is the act of embracing an experience, especially when that experience is a negative one. The idea here isn’t to just tolerate a negative situation, but to fully embrace it in the present moment. It’s much easier said than done, but it’s helpful in the long run for moving past things you can’t control.
Learning to accept your feelings in the present moment gives you the mental space to begin problem solving things that are in your control. Rather than becoming consumed by big, negative thoughts and feelings, it’s helpful to take a step back and truly assess your situation. Again, easier said than done, but here are some things you can try the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed:
Try to focus on things you can control
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to remember that there are actually some things that are in your control. Sometimes when your mind is racing, making a list of everything you have going on or tasks you need to complete can be helpful. Then, once you have a list you can decide which things you can take action on at that moment and which ones you can’t. This will help you to remind you of the circumstances you are in control of.
Journal about it!
Journaling has many benefits. Not only does it offer a great distraction, but it can help to get those negative thoughts and feelings out of your mind and onto a piece of paper instead. Research indicates that journaling is shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase goal-oriented behaviors.
It probably goes without saying that having a neutral space to talk about things that are stressful is helpful to “get it all out”. However, therapy can also help equip you with other ways to cope with stressful and overwhelming situations! If affordable therapy is accessible to you, consider making an appointment if you need help coping with those big feelings. If you have insurance, you can call your insurance company to determine which providers will accept it. Free or discounted therapy may also be offered through your employer. And Regent’s Psychological Services Center offers discounted therapeutic and assessment services, and a sliding scale for any pricing adjustments that would help fit your budget.
Just remember - there will be times when you feel overwhelmed. That’s a normal part of the human experience. Knowing what that looks like for you, things you can do to alleviate some of that stress, and being aware of resources that are available if trying to find a balance becomes difficult to manage are all important things to be mindful of for the sake of your well-being.