Stress & Anxiety | Written by: Dan Ginn

How to Keep Calm in Overwhelming Situations

Life can be overwhelming, right? Whether it’s a to-do list, a social setting or preparing for something important, things can feel intensely suffocating and difficult to handle.

The options are you curl up in a little ball of anxiety and run away from the situation, or you find healthy ways to manage it - keeping calm and overcoming.

Easier said than done? Possibly.

But with consistent work and self-development, you can certainly become a person who is able to handle those overwhelming situations in a calm and collected way.

Here are some tips on how to keep calm in overwhelming situations.

1. Step Away

When you find yourself in an overwhelming environment, your body and mind may feel like it’s on fire. You feel stuck in this ball of anxiety, looking for any way out.

However, because of the pressure to resolve the situation you may be reluctant to step away. Instead, you stay in this highly pressured environment, only allowing the anxiety to increase.

So, let’s say you have a report to finish at work. All the data and spreadsheets make it feel like an almost impossible task to complete. Feeling overwhelmed, you spend the next two hours just staring at your screen, hoping the work will complete itself. Take five minutes away from your desk. Do something unrelated to the task at hand. Regroup and refocus, returning to your work with a fresh mind.

Just taking five minutes to relieve that pressure can free you from the toxic emotions that come with being overwhelmed. Instead of trying to force it, step away and recharge yourself.

2. Breathe

Did you know taking as little as six deep breaths can reduce the symptoms of anxiety by up to 30%? Focusing on your breath centres your mind and gives you a calm, relaxed feeling. It prevents overwhelming thoughts and situations from taking control of you - allowing you to manage them in a productive manner.

When you next feel like you’re pushed against a wall with nowhere to go, just focus on your breath. Slow, deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. It allows you to tell your brain that you’re taking control. Because of this you will feel better equipped to overcome the scenario that you’re faced with.

3. Prepare

There are times when you can preempt an overwhelming situation. Let’s use a kids party as an example. It’s going to be loud, fast-paced and full of that carefree anarchy that children have.

There’s a good chance you will have moments where you feel like screaming - but that’s only going to turn things sour.

So prior to the event, make sure you have everything in order. Ensure you have enough food and drink, along with activities to keep the children engaged. Call in a favor from a friend or two and see if they will help with running the party. That way you can share the responsibility.

Being prepared will make you feel more secure. And when something does go wrong (because let’s face it with kids it will), you will hopefully feel less pressure and find that you’re able to handle it in a calm way.

4. Challenge Yourself To Find The Solution

Whether you’re in a group or alone, at some point in your life you will be in a situation where it all goes wrong.  You’re stranded with no money or completely lost in a new country for example. In the past, you’ve probably seen that one person that completely crumbles, screams, cries and offers nothing in the form a solution - you may have even been that person.

Pride yourself on having a different mindset, instead choosing to be strong and find a way out of your predicament. Be excited by the challenge. Use it as a way not only to survive but to thrive.

Overcoming will boost your confidence up so much that you’ll feel that you’re able to handle all that life throws at you.

5. Actively Seek Overwhelming Situations

How do you learn to manage something? Keep practicing, that’s how.

There are plenty of situations you can put yourself in in order to feel uncomfortable. Take on a new project at work that you know will be a challenge. How about visiting a part of the world that will give you a complete culture shock? These kinds of situations will cause you stress and a little anxiety. But instead of fearing it, be grateful for it - facing up to it is going to help you to grow emotionally.

The more your mind understands it can deal with adversity the more it will be able to keep you calm when other challenges come your way. Being overwhelmed more often will help you use your human instincts, finding ways to survive and making things easier for you in the long run.

6. Positive Visualizations

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely you’ve been a person who hasn’t stayed calm when feeling overwhelmed. The best part about that is that your brain has data that it can work with.

Visualize a time when you felt overwhelmed. Take yourself to that moment and connect with all the emotions you experienced. Now instead of remembering yourself as not being calm, imagine how you would deal with the same situation in a positive way. Picture yourself being at peace and getting out of that environment without losing your cool.

Do this as often as you can, combining it with some deep breathing exercises. The goal is to develop your mind so that when you’re in the situation again, you will instinctively react in the way in which you positively visualized.

7. Believe in Yourself

Being able to remain level headed during difficult times takes confidence. Self-doubt can be somewhat of a curse and as the result of this, you may deal with things in the way that falls in line with the opinion you have of yourself.

Have some faith in who you are as a person and believe that you are more than capable of staying calm when faced with overwhelming situations.

You deserved to be chill - you just need to practice that art being so.

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