10 Self-Care Ideas For When Stress, Anxiety and Overwhelm Hit

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We all know that self-care is important. But, sometimes, it can feel like a challenge just getting it into our days. There are times when stress strikes you in the line at the grocery store, or at lunch while at work. It immediately makes your body tense up and your emotions go out of control. 

That is usually when we wish for an immediate solution to relieve our stress. But, immediate solutions are not easy to come by and we are often in need of some self-care habits to help us relax our bodies, and focus our brains. In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to think of what you need. 

I have put together a list to help you figure out some easy, short self-care tasks for when you aren’t able to come up with any in the moment. 

Release Physical Tension 

One of the first things that happen to me when I am stressed is my shoulder raise. They sit there close to my ears, till my neck and back are sore. Releasing that physical tension can not only help your body, but help your thoughts as well. Here are 2 ideas to help you relieve physical tension.   

1. Breathing  

One of the first things we start to do when we become anxious or stressed it to take shallow breathes. That fight or flight mechanism kicks in and our breathe becomes short. Take 3 minutes to get your breathing back into rythem. Take long deep breathes. There are multiple breathing exercises that you can use. Here is one from the post 11 Ways To Center Yourself

Take deep slow rhythmic breathes - this can relieve tension while also refocusing the mind on one task.

15 Second Breathe - Breathe in for 5 count, hold for a 2 count, then release for 8 count. 

2. Stretching 

Just some short stretches can release some of that energy that is building up in your body. If you have to go to the bathroom to stretch for a few minutes, do it. Stretch your arms, legs, and back. Those are major muscle groups that you may feel the release of more tension from. But, stretch what muscles you realize you are clenching. That could be your jaw or even hands. 

Gain a Positive Outlook  

It can be challenging to stay positive when you feel that the day, week, or month, has gone down the toilet and there is no way to salvage it. This is especially challenging when you are consistently trying to have a positive view and all the wrong things keep happening. 

Trust me when I say that you are not the first one to have a bad month or even year. You are going to get through it and maintaining that positive attitude will help you see opportunities instead of roadblocks. In the moment of stress and turmoil, sometimes sinking to despair and just giving up seems like the appropriate action.  

I understand that feeling of just want to give up and hopeing the day couldn’t get any worse. Instead of giving up I offer you a couple options to hopefully bring some positivity back to your mindset.  

3. Feel the stress, anxiety, overwhelm, etc.  

Sometimes we need 5 minutes to actually be with our feelings. That is okay. Sit in it. Really feel the anxiety, sadness, or despair. You need to fully appreciate those feelings and experience them, or sometimes we just push them down to be experienced later, which isn’t ever convienent when they decide to resurface. 

Set and alarm for 5 or 10 minutes, then sit in your feelings. Have all the downward spiral of what ifs, that you can manage. Then when your alarm goes off, you are done. No more negative thoughts only positive, taking action thoughts. You experienced your emotions and now are done.  

This can be very helpful especially if what you are feeling feels like it will swallow you. Taking a moment to not fight against it will help alleviate the overwhelm of the feelings. Experiencing it now will help you move forward. If you were complete your 5 or 10 minutes, and need to sit in it more, you can plan todo so. 

4. Listen to Positive/ Uplifting  Music

When you are still trying to tame your brain from having so many negative thoughts flooding it with positive thoughts can help. Good, fill your soul music can help lift your heart, and shut down that negative side of your brain that you can’t seem to quiet.  

Here are a couple of songs that I find very uplifting and encouraging

1. This Is Me by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble 

2. The Champion by Carrie Underwood

5. Prayer 

Sometimes shouting out to the big guy upstairs that you are struggling and could use some extra love is what helps ease stress. Remembering that there is someone higher than you, and you aren’t in control of everything can ease the self-criticisms.  

Also, knowing that you are not alone in your struggles can generate a sense of peace.

6. Laugh  

If you haven’t already, I suggest you have a short video, letter, picture, or meme on hand for when you need a laugh. I have a favorite meme that I just picture in my head and begin to chuckle thinking about. Find something that can always make you laugh, so you can whip it out when you are getting a little too serious.  

Laughter is also a good way to release some energy building in your body. So, if you need to spend 5 minutes watching funny videos and laughing a lot, do it. It will help the mind and body. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and need to hit the reset button, try the 7 Day Email Self-Care Challenge. It will help you overcome winter blues and get you on the right track. 

7 Day Email Self-Care Challenge

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Create Clarity and Focus  

Sometimes are ability to calmly react to stressful situations is the first thing to go. The ideas of just completely giving up, or quitting are the first thoughts in our mind. Overwhelm can make everything seem like a do or die situation, and anxiety can leave you paralyzed to act. Your brain requires a reset, and here a couple ideas to get that. 

7. Meditation

I am sure that we have all heard about meditation. If you are someone who can’t sit and focus on your breathe for a few minutes then try the meditation below. 

Alternative Meditation practice:

    1.    Close eyes 

    2.    Say release repeatedly for 1 minute, or 5 minutes. (Do it for as long is necessary to actually feel some release of tension.)

    3.    Set your intention for the next activity. That may be energy, excitement, how you will make others feel, or to serve with excellence.

8. Talk it out

When you are stressed and need help thinking clearly, talking it out can be the best remedy. Usually a friend or a coworker can see your situation clearly and help you navigate it more easily. Sometimes we are just too in it, and don't maintain the perspective that is necessary to help deal with the stress in the moment.  

Reach out to friend, mentor, or loved one to talk it out. Tell them at the beginning of the conversation that you either just want to vent and get it all out, or that you are seeking some advice and clarity on the situation. Be clear about your intention at the beginning of the call. It will help you get what you need in that moment.  

Take Action

9. Take Time For Yourself/ Cancel Plans 

When your stress levels are high, having a packed schedule can make those levels raise even more. We usually need some space to solve the issues and take some time to release the stress. So, cancel your plans. It is okay. If you can’t show up being 100% present then you are excused from being social.  

You would understand others canceling plans because of unexpected stressful events in their life, so cut yourself some slack and do the same. Give yourself some planned time to release stress. It could immediately feel the benefits. 

10. Make a Plan of Action  

I have noticed that there are people who get stressed and then immediately begin taking action to help releive the stress. Then there are people who turn there heads away from the stress and want to go take a nap to avoid it. 

That stress doesn’t dissipate on its own. Taking action can help you feel like you are doing all you can to have the best outcome from the situation. Don’t ignore the issue. It is okay to take a break from it, for yourself, but dont hide from it. Make a plan to actually to do something positive to help the situation.  

If there is nothing that you can do. Then it is time to lay it to rest. Acknowledge that there is nothing that you can do and it is not in your control. You do not control anyone but yourself. There is nothing else to be done. Any more emotional anxiety and thoughts from it are all in your control, and wont change the outcome.  

It can be challenging to combat stress in the moment. When your adrenaline starts going then you can feel stuck on an emotional roller coaster ride that you have no control over. But, there are ways to ease your tension and releave your stress in the moment. I hope these tactics help you. Let me know in the comments below what you do to releave your stress in the moment.