Powerful Practices for Stressed and Overwhelmed & Those Going Through Bad Times

As much as you’d like it to be, the world isn’t this calm, perfect, fairy-tale place.

Discomfort, loss of control, change, pain, overwhelm; these are some of the things I’ve been dealing with this past year.

First, I lost one of the closest people in my life, right before Christmas. Then, I went through my treatment that took quite a physical toll on my body and then finally, in June, I was rear-ended and just recently found out that I will probably end up with a permanent injury that can potentially leave me living with chronic pain.

If I were to use one word in which to describe the way I’ve been feeling these last few months, it’d be “tired.”

I was so tired. Man, was I tired.

I’ll be honest here. I don’t even feel like the same person anymore. While usually I love being organized, active, having everything under control, I felt like everything was falling apart. Like the control I’ve had over my life was slowly slipping away. I had so many things planned for this year, none of which I was able to cross off my list.

There was a short time when I’d ask myself “why is this happening to me?!” but I soon realized that this kind of mindset, or throwing around blame, will not serve me.

Instead, I embraced gratitude.

Things like a loss, grief, major life change- they kind of carve you. Make you feel empty. But that also means that you’re able to carry a lot more.

More love, more gratitude. You start noticing how “good” things were before you got injured, lost a loved one or went through any other major change. You have this new-found appreciation for small things; things that to some, seem insignificant.

When you’re going through bad times, it does often seem like everything is spinning out of control. I’ve been making progress over the last couple of weeks (slow, but progress nonetheless) and these powerful practices for stressed and overwhelmed, is what helped me fight both through the emotional, and physical pain.

POWERFUL PRACTICES FOR STRESSED AND OVERWHELMED

Practices-for-Stressed-and-Overwhelmed

FEEL THE PAIN

Lean into discomfort. Let yourself feel. Let it all out. Whenever something goes wrong, whenever you’re dealing with any kind of issue- big or small- your first instinct might be to run. Just hide. Mask the pain. You’re thinking “this doesn’t feel good, I do not want to feel this way” and you try to distract yourself, refusing to let yourself feel.

You need to learn to lean into that discomfort. This was especially difficult for me when I lost my Granny. I’ve come to realize that grief is a very individual thing. Some people don’t want to mention, talk about or even think about the loved one they lost. Others can’t stop talking about them, telling their favorite stories, looking through old photo albums. You kind of don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings, you don’t know what will make them cry, or sad, or angry. So I felt like I was left with it, all by myself. There comes a point when you just have to let yourself feel that pain. Let it rip your heart. You have to lean into it and let yourself feel all those things you’ve been pushing away, things and feelings you’ve been storing someplace deep in your heart.

Those difficult times, times when things are falling apart, is when you have to let yourself feel the pain. If you have to, do it in small doses. Sometimes, the pain eventually goes away. Other times, it changes from a storm to a passing cloud that shows up once in a while. Don’t run from it, don’t let it build up. Let yourself feel.

REALIZE THAT IT TAKES TIME

With some changes, things just never go back to being “normal.” With others, it takes time. When going through a major setback, you want things to go back to being the way they were, immediately. You need to first allow yourself to take some time to process the change and come to terms with the situation. This is one of the things that I need to tell myself constantly, these days: “it takes time, give yourself time.” It’s especially important when recovering from an injury.

I’m used to going through intense workouts at least 4 times a week and I haven’t been able to exercise for almost 12 weeks now. This makes me feel weak and even more so, frustrated. When I can’t even make it through a 30-minute walk with my dog, I feel like crying- not from pain, but from frustration. Again, I then remind myself: “it takes time.” Admittedly, I don’t always do it willingly because duh, I want to feel like my old self NOW. I want to go back to being active and working, cooking, exercising… but well… it takes time.

Aside from things like physical injury, there are so many other minor or major setbacks where this little gentle reminder can help you feel a bit better. Whether you’re looking for a job, long to be in a relationship, trying to get over a breakup- it takes time. The sooner you realize this, the better. It’s okay to take some time off to process everything that’s happening in your life at the moment; whether it be a failure or a disappointment.


EMBRACE THE UNCERTAIN

Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters of our lives won’t have a title until much later.” – Bob Goff 
Most of the stress comes from our fear of uncertainty. Think about it, the first that comes to your mind when something goes wrong, is “what’s going to happen now?” ,”how am I going to fix this?”, “are things ever going to be the same?”  On the flip side, though, an adventure can be defined in the same way- adventure is often all about embracing the unknown outcome. Of course, there isn’t anything adventurous about most things that bring us suffering. Things like having to find a new job, moving to a different place, or ending a long relationship? Those new beginnings feel sad and uncertain, but they also might end up bringing you a lot of joy.

I have a friend who was devastated when her 5-year relationship ended a few years ago. That was a person she intended to spend the rest of her life with. There was a ton of wine, chocolate, and sobbing involved for the first couple of weeks. Then, she decided that she is making next 12 months all about herself. That pain was still there, but once she embraced that uncertainty, she went on a beautiful adventure, one that continues to this day. She went on to do all the things she always wanted to try, made new friends, discovered new places, tried new things and realized that she probably wouldn’t be able to grow as much as she had if it wasn’t for that relationship ending.

So go ahead, embrace the uncertain.

HOW YOU RESPOND, MATTERS

Life isn’t meant to be controlled. It’s meant to be lived. This means going through things that change us. It means going through things that aren’t always fun, or pleasant. While you can’t always control the things that happen to you, things you go through, what you can control, is how you react to them.

And that, my friends, is your superpower.

These things, like someone cutting you off on a highway, a coworker being unpleasant, your partner getting on your nerves, a work project falling through- these things have as much power and effect on you, as you give them. Take my accident, for example. I ended up taking a different route to work that day to avoid traffic. At no fault of my own, I got rear-ended and have spent my entire summer being in pain, dealing with fixing my car, setting up a rental, going through doctor to doctor, feeling anxious and basically just not having a very good time. While talking to my mom one day, I said to her: “I have to go through all of this, all because of someone else’s mistake. I did nothing wrong!” My mom looked at me and said: “Paula, it was an accident, these things happen every day, it wasn’t anyone’s fault.”

That’s when I realized that I was holding on to judgment, maybe even resentment. It was at that moment that I realized I could either: a) cry and bitch about how much pain and stress someone else has caused me, or question why on Earth did I decide to take a detour when going to work that day- all of which, in turn, will make me feel even more stressed and frustrated or b) I can accept that it was just that: an accident and all I have to work on now, is getting better. “You’re right,” I said to my mom, remembering that “I am so sorry, are you okay?” were the first words that the other driver has said to me when he approached my car. What good is blaming or name-calling going to do for me? It certainly won’t make things any better, won’t help me deal with my injury or frustration. It was just that. An accident.

So, next time shit hits the fan, things go wrong or you find yourself in a situation where judgment, anger, and frustration is the first thing you turn to, remember that the way you respond to those particular situations, can make all the difference.

Whenever those “bad times” hit you, remember that it’s those moments that we prepare ourselves for, whenever we practice mindfulness, or when we work on self-growth. We want to grow and be better so that when things do go wrong, we know how to respond, how to react.

There is a part of me that just wants to throw in the towel and say “I give up,” take my pain meds, cup of tea and just nap all day, or watch TV, or maybe call someone close and bitch about how bad I’m feeling today and how tired I am of feeling like I have a body of a 90-year old. Instead, I can’t help but still feel very excited about the future. I can’t help but feel grateful for all the beautiful things and people (this includes you guys!) that I have in my life.

It’s those tough times that make you strong, so if there is anything that you’re going through right now, know that I’m with you. You’ve got this.

Stress, overwhelm, feeling stressed, moving on, overwhelm feelings, self-growth, happy and mindful, mindfulness
  • Serein Wu

    Great post!

    xoxo Serein
    http://sereinwu.com/

  • Janet

    You are very brave. You have bared your soul so much in the past year, and yes, it all seemed to hit the fan at once with you, so it’s going to take extra time to get on your feet. I try to think we learn from the things that hurt us in life. And taking small steps in getting better…baby steps.

    I was diagnosed with a virus in January, much like mono. It takes the life out of you and replaces it with a tired, sleepy, skeleton of the person you used to be. There is no remedy for this virus, no way to get around it. It will come and go when it wants. I do get angry, but I’ve found that if I work my butt off on not only getting things done, but having a lot of good times, when it rears it’s ugly head, I just accept it better.

    Hang in there, Paula. This is a great post.

    Jane x

    • Thank you so much, Jane! I try to have the same outlook and take each thing that happens in life, as a lesson. Taking small steps is also a key, for sure.

      So sorry to hear about you having to go through this! Tiredness and lack of energy is something I’ve been fighting too. I do agree that when you work on getting things done, it helps you get the mind off the pain and other things. Like when I was writing this post, I barely noticed any physical pain because I was just so excited to finally sit down and write again. It’s hard to find that motivation to get things done, but once you do, it can make all the difference.

      Sending all my love your way, Jane and thank you so much for sharing your experience!

  • Definitely a post worth the read, I was diagnosed with New Daily Persistent Headache in 2016 although it started in 2015 and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I actually ended dup figuring it out myself and it took a loooong time before I had two neurologists diagnose me with the same thing. Although I won’t die from it, it’s taken such a massive toll on the life I used to have and the person I used to be. Unfortunately there are no current treatments and I haven’t heard of anyone ridding themselves of it. I wish you all the best!

    -Sophie xx
    http://www.cherriesandperfume.com.au

    • That’s exactly what I’m going through right now- doctors trying to figure out exactly what’s wrong and I’ve been doing so much research, finding out scary scenarios and making myself more anxious. You definitely need to listen to your body. One of my doctors told me that pain is still one of the most misunderstood things in the medical field- especially here in the US when there’s an epidemic with people getting hooked on pain killers. When I went to the hospital right after the accident I was told that my pain will go away within days and that I’m totally okay. Now I’m told I might end up with chronic pain, go figure.

      I’m so happy that you were able to find a doctor who diagnosed you and I hope that there will soon be some kind of treatment available that will help you cope with the headaches. I know it can suck the life out of you. I wish you all the best too, and send my love your way! xx

  • Jillian Rose

    Thank you for posting this. I’m struggling right now with mental illness and some days it’s harder than others. I’m trying to get a blog up and running and would love if you had a chance to look at it ☺️Hopefully it’ll be ready to go soon..

    • So sorry it’s something you struggle with, Jillian! Blogging can be such a great outlet and bring so much joy and fun into your life! Definitely let me know once it’s up, you’re going to have so much fun! Sending love!

      • Jillian Rose

        Thank you Paula :)

  • Oh, Paula, I am sorry to hear that you might be dealing with a permanent injury and chronic pain. Working with people in chronic pain was part of my former job and I met some very strong and happy people there. The mindset is very important, just like you tell us, and you being the strong and able person you are will overcome all obstacles.

    Your mum seems to be a very wise woman.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • Thank you so much, Anne! Your mindset can definitely change the way you deal with pain- it’s an important lesson I learned over the last couple of months.

      Ahh yes she is :) She has such a good heart and definitely helped me a lot since the accident. Thank you again for your kind comment!

  • All of these things are so true. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the positive things, even if there are so many. Sometimes it’s just easier to hold on to that fear of uncertainty, that wanting to control everything. But the truth is we can’t control everything. So maybe just trying our best and enjoying while we go is the best we can do.. that’s what I’m trying to do now.

    • That’s all very true, Sonja! Holding on to pain and fear is sometimes easier and facing those things head-on is uncomfortable at times, but it makes a difference. The only thing we can control is how we respond. Thank you so much for reading!

  • Pearl Mukoro

    This is a lovely post with so much insight! I agree so much with the statement “you’re life isn’t meant to be controlled, it’s meant to be lived” There are so many things that are out of our control and we need to let go of that fear and embrace uncertainty. Great post!

    Pearl || http://thepearlylife.com

    • Thank you so much, Pearl, so happy you enjoyed the post and that you agree that embracing uncertainty can be a very good thing. Sending love!

  • Oh my, finding out I will never recover – I may be better but I will never be 100% healthy – was probably the toughest moment of my life. Stay strong <3 And if you need an e-hug, I am around!

  • Totally agree with you, thanks for such a beautiful post! Sending love!

    Nikoleta Lj, xoxo. / https://nikoletalj.blogspot.com

  • Oh Paula, I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and injuries! I didn’t know.

    You’re such a wise and strong person I’m sure you’ll overcome all your obstacles and will feel happy and your old self again! xx

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

  • Coco

    Hang tight dear! The sun will always shine again.
    Lots of love,
    Coco| pjsandstuff.wordpress.com

  • Akia Danielle

    OMG Paula! I am sorry for your lost and the obstacles that decide to pop up. You will be okay and come out smiling in the end. I felt like I had wrote this myself. I too lost my granny (last month), and was waiting to hear about a transfer to move back home to the East coast that was denied. Even tough I have a loving husband and 2 beautiful kids I still feel empty inside. this post is going to help me even if I have to read it everyday. thank you! XO

    http://www.theeastonthewest.com

    • Thank you SO much, Akia! I am so sorry for your loss, stay strong my Love. I know what it feels like, I too have so many wonderful things and people in my life, but sometimes you just can’t help but feel a bit empty. You’re definitely not alone in this, sending my love your way!!

  • Such a real post! I love your attitude towards the situation. I am going to save this post and read it the next time I am feeling a bit down.

    I am definitely a believer in that we have control over our minds and our whole outlook. Maintaining a positive mentality can change our whole perspective on a situation.

    Hayley | hayleyxmartin

  • peonies passionfruit

    Love this post!, Such great reminders on how to get through tough times especially paying to how we respond to difficult situations.

    Eme x

    http://www.peoniesandpassionfruit.com

  • Wow your post is very timely for me. It resonates with me on so many levels. Couldn’t have c
    ome at a better time. Keep well. x

  • Natalie Redman

    Great post! This will likely help a lot of people going through tough times.

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Hello, I’m a new reader of your blog. I’m sorry to hear about your accident and the loss of the person you were close to. These things can be really hard. I was involved in a car accident in summer last year but luckily was not hurt. This year started off badly when I lost one of my cats. I’ve had anxiety and depression for years but try my best to work on myself and feel better. This is a helpful post, thank you. :)

    http://fallingpetalsuk.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Laura Anderson Weiss

    I am so sorry about all of these struggles you have gone through! I love this post. These are such wonderful tips. I wish I had this post a year ago as I went through some challenges. I’ve learned to let my grief give me gratitude for everything I still have, but I certainty would have gotten there faster with your words of wisdom.

    • Thank you, Laura, that means the world to me! So happy to know you’ve made gratitude a part of your life, it really changes the way you look at things. x