Saturday, 28 September 2013

Keep Calm & De-stress! How To Cope When Life Feels Overwhelming

Saturday, 28 September 2013
Relax. #Cahootsy
All images courtesy of Pinterest

Over the past few weeks, I've been feeling stressed.

So stressed, in fact, the only word that comes to mind when I try to describe the feeling I experienced during this recent period of my life is overwhelm. 

To sum up briefly, I've had to deal with being told I didn't get the job I wanted and tried so hard to get. After attending 4 pre-interviews and a two-week training course, it felt like my efforts had been wasted. I was then bombed with the realisation that I'd owe over £150 a month for my college courses, and obviously, without a job, this was going to be difficult to keep up with. Then, I found out one of my classes had been discontinued, which left me with an even bigger feeling of worry and dread about my future.

It felt like everything was weighing me down, and I needed so desperately to come up above water for a breath of fresh air. Every bit of bad news I received discouraged me further in the belief that things would get better, and I seriously felt like giving up. I guess for a while, I did. I withdrew myself a lot from thinking about tasks I knew I needed to do, isolated myself from friends and family, and even stopped looking after myself. I stopped making time for things I enjoyed and beat myself up for it on a daily basis.

Luckily, I'm slowly coming out of this 'rough patch'. It's only recently that I've finally been able to think rationally and constructively about my 'problems' again, and keep a positive state of mind about any challenges I'm faced with. 

I'm at last learning to be okay with not always being okay. I've learnt that bad moods, whether they last minutes or weeks, don't last. And that horrible feeling of overwhelm and seemingly never-ended stress with life? It doesn't last either. 

We all go through it at some point - it doesn't matter how successful, happy, or self-controlled we think we might be. It doesn't really matter how well put-together your life is- sometimes, even when there is nothing to be exasperated about, we still find ourselves feeling that way - and sometimes we can't explain it!

Sometimes we just have to wait it out. We need to be persistent, of course, and genuinely try to do all we can to better our situation - but at the same time, we need to have faith that things will work out. Most of all, we need to focus on what we can do - what we can do, at that time, to cope with the feeling of overwhelm.

Whilst I was going through it all, it was mostly a case of trial and error with trying to discover what works and what doesn't in helping me feel better. But, I think I've managed to devise a small list of things that were beneficial to me during this time in my life - and hopefully will be for you too!

  1. Give yourself a break
Relaxation <3

This one's a given really, but I think most people underestimate the importance of making time for yourself to unwind and restore your head back to a functional place. Allow yourself to take a break and relax! Not when you 'have the spare time' or are done with everything you need to do. Now. I found that when I was trying to juggle everything at once, multi-task, and get as much as I could done in a day, I actually lost motivation and became more lazy as a result. My brain likely couldn't function with all the tasks and pressure I was throwing at it, and well, shut down. And that almost always leads to an unproductive day - you know yourself you 'can't cope' and therefore don't even try!

I suggest making a list of things you know instantly de-stress you, and cheer you up. For me it's the simple things, like watching a funny Youtube video, or a favourite film. I also like to read quotes that motivate and inspire me, take a long bath, or read in bed. After I do these things, I instantly feel more relaxed and better able to cope with anything that requires my attention. Make this a daily thing too - you need to incorporate it into your routine to reap the benefits! Need ideas? See these 50 ways to take a break.

2. Spend time with people you love

I know, all you ever feel like doing when you're in 'one of those moods' is retreat to your bedroom and not come out for another week. And that's fine to some degree - having alone time is important for your health and wellbeing. But when you make a habit of it, and deliberately shut people out, you're going to end up feeling worse than you did before.

I'm not really sure why this is, but I do know it does a lot of no good. Not only did I not spend as much time talking to my family, I also made minimal effort texting or messaging others online. And then I wondered why I felt so alone and lost.

It's great therapy talking about your problems, and you should never underestimate that. One afternoon I decided to just creep out of my shell, and sit with some family members. Just talk. And surprisingly, I felt loads better after it.

I think it helps give us perspective too, on our problems and others. We may come to realise that others share the same troubles we do, helping us feel less alone and stuck. Others may have been where we are, and are able to offer advice that we really needed to hear. And sometimes, when we see other's problems, we realise just how small ours are.
And sometimes it helps to take your mind off your problems altogether - making plans to do something with your friends that you're genuinely looking forward to and then enjoying those plans will use up all your energy - leaving none left over for negativity!

"If we threw all our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back" -Regina Brett
3. Prioritise
 Monday's Inspirational post - How Refusal Welcomes a Life of Riches

While you're in this emotionally vulnerable and exhausted state, you've got to focus on putting yourself first for a little while - you might be so used to doing things for others and always being there for everyone else that you neglected the most important thing you should be doing. Taking care of yourself! Learn to say 'no' once in a while, and for now, focus on only the things that require your immediate attention. You may be trying to cram so much in your day, that you've lost sight of the bigger picture, and doing much more than what you really need to be doing.

What I do is make a list of things that need to be done that day. I do this in the morning, before I've even attempted to start my day - relying on my memory for important tasks is never the best idea as I'm usually confused and forgetful as to what needs to get done first, then lose track of time and remember that one vital thing last minute before bed!

I'm very careful about my list though - what I think needs doing, isn't always the case. So I prioritise things - sometimes with numbers, so I can work my way down the list and do the most important thing first, or just categorise those tasks. For example:

  Need to do:

  • 1 hour of sociology
  • Psychology homework - prepare for test next week
  • Write blog post
Want to do:
  • Buy new folders for college
  • Give my room a tidy
  • Read university prospectuses
  • Yoga
It helps to add more things to the 'want-to-do' list that you actually enjoy, too - I always find that I'm more eager to begin the tasks once I know there's something I have to look forward to and all the others bits are done with!

4. Think positive


One of the most important things you can do when going through any kind of personal crisis is to change your way of thinking about it. Easier said than done, I know, but you'll be amazed at how much it works! 

There's a reason cognitive behavioural therapy is used for all sorts of treatments to mental illness - anxiety, depression, even eating disorders. The idea behind CBT is that what you think is consequentially what you feel, so if you think "everyone hates me" "I can't do this" "I'm no good at such and such" you will act in accordance to those unhealthy, irrational beliefs. What CBT aims to do is replace those thoughts and beliefs with healthier, rational ones.

I learnt about this mainly in psychology, but have had some experience with it myself in self-help books of all kinds, so decided to implement the techniques into my own life in some way.

Writing down your unhelpful thoughts, recognising them for what they are, and then providing yourself with an alternative 'more rational' belief helps immensely in not only calming you down, but providing you with the confidence that you can cope with whatever life's throwing at you.

For example:
  • I feel bad because I've not started my English homework and am worried i won't be able to do it 
  • I acknowledge that I feel bad because I feel I should be doing my English homework, and am aware that my worry of not being able to do the work is causing me to put it off and procrastinate. I realise that this worry has stemmed from my fear of failing. 
  • Alternative: I need not worry about not starting my work right now, or earlier - it is not absolutely urgent as it is not due for two more days, so I still have plenty of time to complete it. I shouldn't be so hard on myself for this.I also shouldn't be worrying myself so much about not being able to do it, as I have not attempted the work yet or even given it a try, so I cannot possibly know whether I 'won't be able to do it'. It may seem intimidating but as long as I start it and give it a go, that's all that matters, even if I do it wrong (which I'm sure I won't, because I am good at English) as long as I try my best. If I don't do it perfectly, I can always improve and learn from my mistakes. My fear of failing is also unjustified - I usually do well in my work and haven't failed for quite some time, but even if I do, it won't be the end of the world and I will tolerate it. I accept myself regardless of succeeding or failing.

You get the kind of idea - do this for every thought that's worrying you and I promise you'll feel better! Adopting a positive attitude, in my opinion, is the only way to cope with anything without losing your mind.

4. Get moving 
Some times we need a reminder to take a break, breathe and look at other opportunties around you. Keep calm and continue - the best work comes from relaxation and confidence. You can do it. #BrianTracy

The last thing I can add to this list which I think helps immensely in getting you out of your rut is genuinely just moving around and getting out the house! Whilst I was feeling overwhelmed, all I felt like doing was staying in bed everyday. The littlest of things felt like they required so much effort, and so I made the mistake of thinking that not doing anything would make me feel better. Wrong!

When I finally had a reason to leave the house just this week, I felt better immediately. It was difficult trying to push myself to just get ready and go out, but afterwards it seemed all worth it because I felt like I had accomplished important things that day. Plus, I looked loads better because I had made the effort with my appearance - making me feel better about myself!

Even if it's just a workout, or walk outside, make yourself do it. There are tons of health benefits alone to exercise, and I think, because it's something you have control over, allows you to gain control of your life again, and yourself.

I went for a run this afternoon and it put me in a positive spirit for the rest of the day - doing just that one thing, before you attempt anything else, can actually give you the confidence to do other things.

What do you do to help yourself when feeling stressed? I hope this has been of help, and I wish you all a lovely (relaxed!) weekend.

P.S - You may have noticed in my header that my blog has now changed from just beauty and fashion to beauty, fashion AND lifestyle.  I decided it didn't really make much sense to call my blog a 'beauty and fashion' blog when posts like these have been making a more popular appearance, and since I enjoy writing these lifestyle posts so much, more should hopefully follow!



  1. I loved this post - I will remember it when I am feeling this way and alone, which I think is often when you first get out of school and there are all these expectations you and other people have of yourself and you can't figure out how to fulfill them. But you're clearly trying hard! And you're doing great. You're stressed out because you have standards, amiright?

  2. Hi Isa,

    Thank you very much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Oh I can definitely relate with that, I went through probably one of the hardest times of my life when I finished school. Jumped from college to college, job to job, never quite settling because I just had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And of course, the expectations didn't help - it's immense societal and family pressure to deal with, and at the time, I ended up taking a few months off to deal with the depression.

    I wish I'd had this list back then, come to think of it haha.. but hey, if I can jump back from a time like that, there's hope for everyone!
    I definitely get stressed out because I set myself high standards, sometimes impossibly high.. one of the downsides to being a perfectionist! Haha, that's something I'm trying to change actually.

    Thanks a bunch for your comment and stopping by, I really appreciate it!

    Emily x

  3. Emily! how are you! I had a hard time to be here, the last time you had visited me, I clicked on your name it didn't seem to work for me to be here but then I had not much of time to look for you on my oldest post till today, I
    Fantastic post as usual sweety. Pls stay in touch, you know I like to come here and see what you have to wright and post about! You are an interesting person to me!
    Happy oct to you!

  4. Hi Tanya! It's been a while hasn't it haha! I'm good thanks lovely, how have you been?
    Oh that's strange, I wonder why it didn't work.. no worries anyway, thank you so much :-) of course, I'll come check out your blog right now! And aww thank you, you're very interesting to me too!

    Happy october!

    Emily xx


Emilicia STYLE - A Beauty, Fashion, & Lifestyle Blog © 2014