Whether your to-do list is getting longer and longer or you’re anxious about an upcoming presentation or you’re just in the dark phase of your mental health cycle, there are moments when you just have to stop, take a deep breath, and just do something to make the voices stop or to make your heart calm down or to unscramble your brain.
Don’t say you can’t afford to stop. When it’s a matter of your sanity or your health, you have to step away from whatever it is that is causing you to panic or to be too anxious or to just be too overwhelmed.
Here are some things that I’ve found to be effective and maybe you can give one or two (or all) of these a try. But remember, the first thing you have to do is stop whatever it is you’re doing and take 5 minutes or more or else you might just cave or break down or have an attack. The first step is to try and breathe normally. Then these may follow.
Pray or meditate (or both)
Depending on your spiritual persuasion, you can do either or even both. As a Christian, this should be my first refuge. But the truth is, it’s not always a natural response. So I have to remind myself or have others remind me that my first refuge should be God. It doesn’t have to be a “formal” kind of prayer but more like me talking to Him, venting, crying, making sumbong, etc. And then the other important part, which is where meditating comes in for me, is to be quiet and listen.
I wrote the other day that I feel so blessed (not ironically) that in my workplace, I can just go down to our bookshop to take a break and read a book that can inspire me or teach me a lesson or both. You don’t have to work in a bookshop, but wherever you are, you can just grab your current read or a book that you’ve been meaning to read and find a quiet corner (even the bathroom!) and lose yourself in a different world (if it’s fiction) or learn some words of wisdom (for non-fic) from someone else.
Talk to someone
If you’re like me, an introvert/sometimes ambivert, this doesn’t always work because sometimes you just want to be alone with your thoughts. But when you sometimes feel like you’re going out of your mind, talking to someone just might save your sanity. You can either tell the person you just want someone to listen to you (and hopefully you find someone who listens well) or you can ask their advice or you can even just ask someone to distract you from your own thoughts (sometimes, humor helps!). It is important for you to realize that you are not alone.
I’m a writer, so my first instinct is to of course write in my journal or post something on social media (or both). But if you’re a visual person, you can draw or sketch your feelings. If you’re more musical, you can play an instrument or sing (there are videoke-like apps now so you don’t have to sing acapella). If you cook, go ahead and cook something. The idea is to find your creative outlet and let it all out there.
Eat or drink something
You may laugh at this, but seriously, it helps. But it has to be in moderation, mind you. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, your comfort food - they may be temporary distractions but they can help you breathe.
How about you? What are the things that you do when things get too overwhelming?