Recently I’ve had a lot going on and I feel myself getting more and more overwhelmed about each thing going on in my life. My job is extremely stressful, my family is dealing with some particularly heavy issues, I have been really sick a lot and battling with some big time health stuff, and that’s not even to mention stresses like superstorm Sandy or your alarm not going off in the morning. I feel like I’m at my wits end, and each small thing that comes my way now feels like a giant meteor heading directly for me. I am finding myself unable to cope with things that before I might just let go or forget about in the interest of peace and harmony. How do I keep the train from going off of the tracks and alienating everyone that I care about?
Dear Keeping-it-together Katie,
Whoa. Sounds like 2012 has dealt you just the right amount of stress to see what you’re up for in 2013 and beyond. Sometimes the universe passes us just enough to get us to our breaking point so that we can blast right through it and get to the other side.
And hey, here’s the good news: You’re still keeping it together! As your sign off name declares, you haven’t gone around the bend quite yet…so there’s hope for you yet Katie!
You have to find a way to deal with all of this before it eats you alive. No matter what the issues are. Here are some tips on to get you through the worst of it:
- Take THREE deep breaths - In through your mouth and out through your nose. Yep. Sounds pretty cliché and stupid doesn’t it? Have you tried it? Well try it before you knock it! Even NPR does it!
- Do yoga. I don’t care if you don’t like it or don’t know how to do it. Find a class near you at a studio where you are comfortable. Take a class like “restorative” or “gentle” or “pranayama” yoga. (Pranayama means breath) Something that will force you, for at least one hour a week, to be quiet and just breathe. You’ll be amazed how it clears your head and brings peace to your soul. Look here and here to find a class near you and get info on the best practice for your body.
- Take a bubble bath. Go out and splurge on some high quality bath salts, bubbles, candles, and a good book. Run yourself a hot bath before you go to sleep. Pour yourself glass of wine, light the candles and read your book. All alone. Just sit and relax and have some “you time”. Turn your cell phone off – no TV. Just you, your book, your wine and silence. Go here for some of my personal favorite bath products! It’s mainly an NYC chain, but if you live outside of that area or a major city like Miami, Chicago or Boston, you can order online. It’s the best stuff! That’s a Dear Kate Guarantee!
- Start a Gratitude Journal. Again, probably sounds trite and a little silly. Your response to this might even be “I don’t have anything to be grateful for! Things are so bad!” So start with little things that you think you might be grateful for, but we ALL take for granted. For example: Do you have shoes on your feet? Does your electricity work? Does your toilet flush? Do you still have both your hands? How is your hearing? Do you know how to read? Are your parents still alive? Do you have food in the fridge? … I think you see where I could go with this. When we are truly grateful – there is no reason to stay upset about other things. And that isn’t to say that things do not get bad, really bad — they absolutely do – so bad that you need to cry and scream and feel hurt and upset and then return to what you have that is good. There will be something there, and it will help ease the stress. It’s the bigger picture, keeping the scope of what is big and what is small, that helps to relieve the overwhelming sensation of drowning in our own tears.
- Join a Gym. If you don’t do it already – work out! There are like a billion studies that correlate stress management to the endorphins we release when we get our heart rate up and out blood flowing. It will physically de-stress you. Here’s a great article from the Mayo Clinic that explains this in more detail.
- Talk to someone. This is probably the most important of all. You have to find someone to talk to – be it a therapist, a family member, or a friend – you need to find someone that you can confide in and get things off of your chest with. Holding in hurt, pain, emotions and bad thoughts can crush you like a 10,000 lb weight on your chest. Emotional suffocation is as deadly as sitting in a car in the garage and letting the engine run, it just takes a lot longer – but it will stop your heart eventually. Hurtful thoughts and destructive feelings are like toxins in your body that will eventually cause a permanent hangover. You have to purge. But remember, there is healthy and unhealthy purging – so make sure you find someone you can talk to in a safe and loving environment. Like a sounding board that talks back.
Try these 6 things and if you are still having trouble getting a hold on your emotions you might want to look into a more serious form of counseling. However – given everything piled on your plate right now, I’d say it’s more than normal for you to be overwhelmed and at a loss for how to deal right now.
So start breathing, yogaing, jogging, laughing, bubble-bathing and talking. I bet you’ll feel better.
Here’s to a better 2013
Dear Kate is a column that runs on Kate-book.com every other Thursday at noon. It is written by the wise Katharine Luckinbill, who you should follow on Twitter. Got a life, friendship, family, dating, or relationship question that you’d like Dear Kate to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you out!