Does Life Feel Overwhelming Right Now?

At this moment in time, life can feel overwhelming for some people. Don't worry, nothing is inherently wrong with you. There is a lot going on right now, and it's a lot to take in. Many people have had plans cancelled, and those plans were things they rely on to recharge their batteries. Companies and employees are navigating the intricacies of working from home, well before either were ready to take it on. Kids are home for the summer, and many of their events are modified and cancelled. Add several other current events, if you follow those things, and you have a recipe for a society stretched to its limits, mentally. If you haven't bothered intentionally building the skills that keep you resilient in life by now, there's still time. Developing these skills can help you regain control, perspective, and begin to thrive. Three skills that come to mind that help with these things are checking your thinking, gratitude, and challenging yourself.

The skill or habit of checking your thinking is essential for regaining control and ensuring you're responding and not reacting. This skill will help you reframe your thinking when needed, ensuring you are have helpful outcomes as challenges come along, and staying away from hurtful or harmful outcomes. Simply put, it's learning how to control your emotional and physical reactions by recognizing the thought process that drives them. This can reduce stress by putting you back in control of your thinking and responses. It will keep you from survival mode when the people around you need it most. Another aspect of controlling your thinking is developing the ability to recognize when you are in a cognitive trap and knowing how to take yourself out of it, in order to make sure you're respond to the actual event, and you haven't made it bigger than it actually is. This will help you maintain a healthy perspective and avoid common misunderstandings.

Developing a gratitude practice is another way to maintain a healthy perspective throughout difficult times. Being able to focus on the good or what's gone right in your day will keep your natural negativity bias from taking over, and causing you to focus on everything that went wrong. Realistically, things do go wrong. That's life, but building a strong gratitude practice, with depth, as I teaching in my coaching and resilience course will keep you connected to the good in life because there's always that as well. Staying connected to the good will help you feel more positive emotions, and give you an optimistic view of the future. Keep yourself grounded with a daily, every other day or weekly time to check in; whatever works best for your life.

Finally, it's important that we continue to set challenges in our lives and achieve. Much of what's happening now feels like a challenge, but the truth is, so much of it is beyond our control, and so focusing on things you can control can build stress. Being quarantined or having our ability to interact restricted means that it is up to us to create challenges so that we can stay connected to a sense of accomplishment. Some people may set a goal of walking 20 miles per week as something they are going to work up to, or perhaps running and other higher intensity workouts work best for others. Either way, physical activity is a very healthy means of challenging yourself. It is a stress reduction and mindfulness session all wrapped up into one event. If you can get out in the fresh air and sun while doing it, that's a huge bonus! Challenging your mind is often something that gets forgotten about more indoor time has many sitting in front of the TV, phone, or computer for hours, essentially with their mind on autopilot. Studies show that challenging yourself, mentally, shows a reduction in anxiety and depression. It's important that you created both the mental and physical stress in your life because you can control it, aim it at a goal, and build momentum in your life whether there is adversity or not. Even in adversity you can go for a walk or read a book.

Although we are in a time of stress and uncertainty, it's good to know that you can take control back, build resilience, and thrive again. If you learn and apply these research based skills, you will be coming out of this time in history ready for anything. You would have used this time to build a version of you that can regain control, maintain a healthy perspective, and thrive in any situation. These aren't skills that apply only once, these are skills you take wherever life leads. You can start today, not matter what your level of resilience is. Learn what skills resilient people have, develop them, and make them the skills you have.

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