How to Clear Your Mind When You’re Feeling Anxious, Stressed, or Overwhelmed

I get it. We’ve all been there. You have a million and one things to do and no time to do it, so your immediate reaction is to either A) cry, B) panic, C) give up, D) yell, or E) all of the above. I’m not saying that these are going to work for everyone, but over the years I have found out what works for me and I hope that I can pass along some of that information to you. 

 

1) Step back and take a few breaths.

This is the most helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment. Such as if you’re at work, taking a test, driving, etc. Often times you are unable to change the situation, but you can learn ways to cope with what is going on. In times of distress it’s important that you take a small break, whether it be 5 minutes, 20 minutes, or 60 minutes, and reassure yourself that it’s going to be okay.

During a moment of intensity, our breathing rate often becomes disturbed and tends to speed up. Instead of breathing slowly from our lower lungs, we begin to breathe rapidly from our upper lungs. This causes ‘hyperventilation’, and is often why we begin to feel dizzy, have shortness of breath, get confused, and sometimes feel nauseous when in stressful and anxiety ridden situations. Learning breathing techniques is proven to relax us and calm our body down. Try taking breaths that synchronize with the GIF below. This works for anyone whether you are anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed.

 

2) Download some apps to use when you’re having difficulty focusing.

This is useful for someone who suffers from anxiety. Often times anxiety tends to hit you like a brick, making it difficult to get through whatever task you may be doing. It can then lead to an anxiety attack if the situation is not taken care of. However, if you distract yourself from the problem or trigger, you can stop anxiety right in it’s tracks and move on with your day.

My counselor recommended that I download some games or puzzles onto my phone to play when I start to feel anxious. This way I can keep my mind busy and avoid having racing thoughts, a tight chest, clammy hands, nausea, lightheadedness, and all those fun symptoms that are caused by anxiety. I gave her recommendation a try, and to my surprise they help out a ton. It gives me something to do when I’m feeling on edge and calms me down easily in just a few minutes. I also have an app for meditation and an app to track how I am feeling each day (first and second shown). 

 

3) Treat yo self.

Take a bath. Go shopping. Dance around. Eat an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting. Who freaking cares what you do! As long as you feel happy, refreshed, and rejuvenated, then anything floats.

The problem with self care is that we aren’t doing enough of it. Taking time to focus on ourselves is often viewed as selfish, which is why we typically feel guilty for taking a break once in a while in order to make us feel better. Not taking a break can put an emotional toll on our bodies, and make preexisting conditions even worse. This is why taking the time to do things that make us feel better is so necessary. When we indulge and take good care of ourselves, it helps improve many aspects of life—including our physical health, relationships, and overall well being.

 

4) Make a list.

Making lists aren’t for everyone, but I view it as a great way to get a visual image of everything that needs to get done. When I make a to-do list I like to put my most important priority at the top, and work my way down to the bottom. The satisfaction that I get by crossing off each bullet points makes me feel some type of way. Yes, I am getting things done. Yes, I can actually do this. Take it step-by-step and take as much time as you need. Nobody is watching you or judging you, you can do this!

Making lists is also a great way to clear your mind and put all of your tasks down in one place. Our minds often get overly clustered and we can’t seem to grasp what we need to do, or even find the motivation to do it because our thoughts are all over the place. Making lists let you see everything in one place. You can even choose to organize them by type: a grocery list, a cleaning list, an assignment list, books I need to read list, upcoming events list. They can also be daily, weekly, or monthly. Anything rolls.

 

5) Talk to someone.

Sometimes simply venting about your problems can take a huge weight off your chest. I know that I always feel better when I talk to a friend, plus hearing someone’s own advice can add a new perspective when it comes to dealing with your problems. Always remember that asking for help does not make you weak. Find a friend you can trust and talk it out. Don’t forget that there are professionals out there who want to help you too, such as therapists and counselors. These are people who will work with you to find remedies to make your life easier and find solutions as to why you are feeling this way.

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Finding solutions to feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed is something that you typically figure out over time. From personal experience you find out what works and what doesn’t work at all. It’s important to keep an open and positive mind. What you think may work, might not, and that is okay. Keep trying and don’t give up under any circumstances. I hope my suggestions can alleviate some of your problems either now or later on. Best of luck to all of you!