5 tips to cope with overwhelming feelings

5 tips to cope with overwhelming feelings

As we struggle with living in isolation, keeping up with work and staying connected to family and friends, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

Sharnade George, a celebrity therapist, presenter and writer, shares her five tips for getting on top of overwhelming feelings and learning to cope with them.

1. Acknowledge the feeling

When you start to feel panicked, anxious, or out of control, acknowledging the feeling and being able to name it is the starting point for understanding it and managing it.

This advice extends beyond feeling overwhelmed, too. All of our emotions tell us something, and understanding how an emotion feels in your body and how you respond to it can make managing it that much easier.

2. Know what you can control

To alleviate panic, it’s important to know what you can and can’t control in your day-to-day life.

Being able to identify controllable and uncontrollable aspects of your life can help you decide where to focus your energy and what things you might choose to let go of.

For example, if the news is leaving you feeling overwhelmed, you could choose to limit your consumption by watching it once a week or avoid reading it while scrolling on your phone - letting you control what you see.

In a similar vein, making time for things you know will make you feel better, such as exercise, meditating, journaling, or eating something that brings you joy, can be another way to alleviate panicky feelings.

3. Take a breath

Since panic causes breathlessness, using breathing techniques - such as lengthening your exhale or breathing from your diaphragm - can help you feel calmer.

In an overwhelming moment, George recommends breathing in for four seconds, then breathing out for four seconds, and repeating the exercise three times.

4. Use affirmations

Positive affirmations can help to ground and relax you when things get stressful.

Instead of thinking about how out of control the world may seem at the moment, George recommends repeating phrases such as “I am doing my best” and “I can manage this” to shift your focus and stay calm.

5. Avoid catastrophising

Though it can feel difficult to not catastrophise - when your mind assumes the worst possible outcome of a situation will happen - practicing alternative thoughts and behaviours can help.

Engaging in mindfulness can help you control your thoughts and allow you to recognise when they are irrational.

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