In your journey through life, feeling overwhelmed is a shared human experience.
But know that dealing with overwhelming thoughts and feelings is not about perfection but a continuous growth process. Explore practical insights from the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) world, gaining a valuable perspective on embracing your humanity.
It’s about more than just recognizing difficulty; it’s about sensing within and embracing the profound connection between mind and body.
Now, let’s unravel the transformative journey of noticing, feeling, and moving towards a direction aligned with your deepest values with this go-to formula you can use when feeling overwhelmed.
Step 1: Notice Your Emotions
When the world seems to come crashing down, it’s hard to think straight, so the first step is straightforward and simple. You only need to notice that this is currently hard for you. It can be as simple as having a quick moment of clarity while experiencing an emotional outburst.
If you practice the skill of noticing, you will be able to catch your experiences as they unfold in the present moment, allowing you to make a conscious decision about what you want to do next.
Step 2: Feel The Unseen
When overwhelming thoughts and feelings grip you, they may deceive you into believing you’re not okay. The impulse to dispel these emotions often leads to familiar coping mechanisms—lashing out, indulging in comfort food, smoking, or escaping into social media. While effective momentarily, the cycle repeats, leaving you once again submerged in overwhelm.
In such moments, it is crucial to recognize your power of choice. Instead of evading your experience, embrace it. Dive into your body: What sensations are present, and where? Invest a few seconds, perhaps a minute or two, in exploring your internal landscape.
Start small and gradually expand your awareness with self-kindness, patience, and care.
Step 3: Move Towards What Matters
The third and final step in regaining control is to shift your focus outward. Reflect on the things that hold greater significance than succumbing to overwhelm. Whether it’s commitments to loved ones, career goals, or enhancing self-care, some aspects of your life matter deeply.
Take a moment to move in a valued direction; it need not be a grand gesture. A small step suffices—sip a glass of water, send a quick text to a loved one, bask in a short walk in the sun, or indulge your dog with a belly rub. The options are limitless.
What matters is the commitment to small actions that are aligned with your life’s purpose and meaning.