Take a deep breath.
Breathing is the jam. It can boost your energy levels, elevate your mood, and give your internal organs some much needed TLC. There are all kinds of fancy breathing exercises designed to help you relax and release tension, but all you really need to remember in a pinch is to take a slow, deep breath, hold it for a few moments, and then make a slow, controlled exhale. Repeat as needed.
Have a good, hard belly laugh.
Laughter has all kinds of physiological benefits, and there’s a ton of research to prove it. But the best part is that a fake laugh is just as beneficial as the real thing, so you don’t even have to be in the mood to laugh. Just do your best impression of a loud guffaw, and you’ll start feeling better in a jiffy. (Fair warning: My fake laughs always end up turning into real laughs because I feel so ridiculous. Also, if you do this in public, be prepared to have random people stare and/or laugh with you.)
Ground yourself in your senses.
Being overwhelmed is a mental state, so you can disrupt it by getting out of your head and lost in a sensory experience. Wherever you are, take inventory of your five senses. Count how many different things you can see, feel, hear, smell and taste in that moment. It’s a simple, but powerful mindfulness exercise that can help us escape the harmful cycle of stress, self-doubt and negativity that tends to take over our minds when we get overwhelmed.
Ditch your devices for a few minutes, because over-stimulation only exacerbates feelings of overwhelm and insecurity. In these moments, the last thing we need is to be bombarded with everyone else’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, and images. Put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off those notifications. Do not check in on social media at your next location. Close your email. Just sit with yourself until you’re ready to face the world again.
When we're overwhelmed, the last thing we need is to be bombarded by everyone else's opinions. Click To Tweet
Write it out.
Often, the best way out is through. Feel those feelings, process them in your own words, and then let. them. go. You can journal, write an angry letter, or whatever. It can be extremely cathartic. Just remember to honor yourself and keep them private (i.e., do NOT post your writing therapy on social media).
Move your body.
We all know that exercise can give you a nice rush of endorphins and improve mood. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Try dancing enthusiastically to your favorite Beyoncé song. Or take a 5-minute walk outside in the fresh air. Or opt for the stairs instead of the elevator. Even a quick stretch in your chair or a change in your posture can help. The point is that your mind and body are connected, so you can affect change in your mind by making a change in your body. And movement is better than stagnation, so get your blood circulating and strike a power pose to remind yourself that you’re the boss.
Take a small action step.
Overwhelm is insidious. It can start off as procrastination or confusion, until one day it’s full-on paralysis. We suddenly find ourselves in a state of inaction that makes a bad situation worse every time. But if you learn to keep moving forward, you can stop overwhelm in its tracks. Take a series of microsteps in the right direction, and you’ll soon build enough momentum to overcome fear and anxiety . Eventually, you’ll be able to silence the voice in your head that says you’ll never get past this because you’ll already be past the worst of it.