10 Practical Tips for Managing Anxiety and Overwhelm

There can be times in our lives when things get tough, or too much and they start taking their toll on our mental health. This blog will discuss what it is like when we get anxious or overwhelmed, and what we can do to minimise the symptoms that go alongside these.


This is not designed to replace medical advice, if you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, please please reach out to a medical professional, they are there to help you.




Anxiety


The feelings we have when we are very worried and scared are called anxiety. Some people can feel anxious around specific things such as driving, or meeting new people, others have feelings of anxiety when things are different from their usual routine, and others can experience anxiety for no known reason.


When we have these feelings of anxiety they can manifest as anxious words in our head 'I'm not safe', 'something is going to go wrong', or feelings like a tight chest, headache, feeling hot, or panic attacks.


We can often feel like our anxiety is silly or unjustified, but when we are feeling anxious it is because our brain has perceived a threat, and has triggered our 'flight or fight' mode, and delivered lots of hormones to our body to give us the burst of energy to survive that threat. In reality when we have nothing to fight, and nowhere to run we are left with the unpleasant feelings of anxiety.


Overwhelm


When we have a lot on our plate and feel like we are struggling to keep on top of it we can experience overwhelm.


This can cause us to overwork and burn ourselves out, trying to fit everything in or the opposite in which we are so overwhelmed with where to start that we procrastinate and don't do anything on our list, leading to us feel even more overwhelmed.


This can lead to lots of negative self talk about how other people have it together and why can't we do it all too, and eventually feelings of anxiety.




If you have been feeling like this, it's okay, I promise you are not alone.


Here are my top 10 tips to help the symptoms of anxiety and overwhelm, and to prevent it occurring quite so regularly!


1. Recognise the Feelings


The first step is recognising the feelings you are having. When the feeling starts, you can say in your mind or out loud, 'I am feeling stressed/scared/overwhelmed/sad' whatever it is that you have noticed.


The second step is seeing if you can link that feeling with a cause, it might be really obvious to you 'I'm feeling anxious because my boss emailed me about a meeting' or it might take a while to work out where the feelings have come from. Saying 'I'm feeling _____ because......' even if you don't know how that sentence ends, it starts prompting you to make connections with what is going on in your environment and the feelings you are having.


2. Find a breathing exercise that works for you


One of the symptoms of anxiety is an increased breathing rate, lowering our breathing rate back down to normal is one of the ways we can let our brain know 'the threat has gone'. Different breathing exercises work for different people, if you try and regulate your breathing in a way which is uncomfortable to you, you may end up feeling more panicked.


To begin with it is best to put a hand on your stomach, try and take slow breaths in all the way down into your stomach, and then gently blow the breath away. If you can count as you do this it can be helpful as you are engaging both sides of your brain, keeping it busy can help to eliminate those anxious thoughts.


Try this in different ways, breathing through your mouth or nose, stood up or sat down, counting or saying a calming phrase to yourself, until you have found what feels right and works for you.


3. Find what affirmations or mantras work for you


Having an affirmation or mantra to repeat to yourself in the moment can be really helpful, but it has to be something that you can believe. Generally it should be the opposite of what your anxiety or overwhelm are telling you. Something simple and easy to remember such as:


'I am safe'


'My anxiety is not stronger than me'


'I am enough, no matter how much I have achieved today'


Test these out and see how they feel, when you had found an affirmation that works for you it should feel reassuring, like comforting words from a loved one.


4. Make lists, 'to-do' and 'have done', and prioritise


Lists can be really useful to keep a grasp on what has to be done, but they can sometimes make use feel even more overwhelmed.


If you can prioritise the tasks on your list, what NEEDS to be done today? What NEEDS to be done sometime this week? What would it just be nice to achieve?


By re-framing our tasks like this it can make our lists less scary and quieten the little voice which tells us off for not achieving everything on that list today.


Writing everything down that we have achieved is also a great tool, there are so many jobs that just get done on auto pilot, but recognising the work you do, can help you start to feel proud of yourself, instead of feeling down for what hasn't been done.





6. Break tasks down


If your tasks still look too much can you break them up further?


Can't face the mountain of clean washing? Just put one thing away.


Thought of cooking the meal you had planned making you feel stressed? Have you got sometime quick and easy in the freezer you can do instead? Takeaway?!


Sometimes recognising that doing 1 part of a task no matter how tiny is better than doing nothing at all, and it is worth taking shortcuts if it makes you feel happier and less stressed!


7. Focus on the parts of your life make you happy.


When things are stressful and we feel anxious and overwhelmed it can be really easy to focus on these negative feelings and the negative things which are happening in our lives to cause these.


When we can shift our mindset a little and recognise what is going right for us at the moment it can be easier to spend more of our day happy.


Before you go to sleep at night ask yourself what made you happy that day, and what you are grateful for in your life right now.


8. Set Boundaries


When you start to realise what triggers your anxiety, whether it is a situation or person/people, it is okay for you to set boundaries.


If you need to avoid or limit time spend in that situation, you need to start putting yourself first and decide what boundaries to set to protect yourself.


This can include silencing someone on social media or unfriending if you are finding their posts triggering, or deleting your social media app for a while.


9. Self-Care


When you are feeling overwhelmed and like you have got a lot on your plate self-care and be the first thing sacrificed, but it is so important to put time aside to do the things that bring you joy.


Self-care does not need to be a hot bath with candles and gentle music, if can be whatever makes you feel good, a walk in the woods, a kitchen disco, a jog, a bad film on netflix.


So each day, even if everything else hasn't been done try and set 15 minutes aside for yourself to do whatever it is that feels like self-care to you. You can even say to yourself 'I am taking this time for me because I deserve it'


10. Don't suffer alone


One of the most important things to remember if you are suffering with anxiety or overwhelm, or any other struggles with mental health, please reach out to someone to tell them how you are feeling.


If you feel you need help you can speak to your GP, or if you are currently under a midwife or health visitor they can refer you for help. They will be sympathetic and non-judgemental and are on your side.


If you just need to get how you are feeling off your chest, find a friend or family member, or support group to talk to, or my inbox is always open.


Talking therapy, and hypnotherapy can be really helpful for getting to the root cause of your anxiety and overwhelm, and helping you to stay calm and happy, if you are interested in arranging a session, you can do so here.



I hope you found this helpful! Let me know which tips you try and what works for you!


If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch