“Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to these days? How are you?” Questions that can cause you to go into that dark place in your anxious mind and ruin your whole afternoon. Questions that will cause you to avoid phone calls and texts from certain people or cause you to hide when you see them in public.
I know that someone else out there is one “how are you? What are you up to?” away from breaking down and telling everyone how they really feel while crying and cursing the universe for making life so complex. Someone out there has looked at a dog or cat and envied their lives because they have it so easy.
If someone asking you how you are doing or what you are up to these days makes you want to curl up in fetal position and stare at a blank wall, chances are you are overwhelmed. So, how do you deal?
1. Realize that you are overwhelmed
When life is going to fast, going to slow or seeming to not go anywhere at all, it can be hard to come up with a timeline that fits to these made up societal norms that we have in place. These times come mostly when we’ve realized that we no longer like our jobs/college majors, have decided that we are going to do something about it, but are not sure what to do. These times also come when we are waiting for the results of an application or waiting for a business to take off.
These times of “buffering” and re-routing can be the most difficult because you can’t just stop and wait for things to work themselves out; you have to hustle through it and keep moving.
2. Remember that you are trying to do something good
This may sound silly, but sometimes we forget that unless you are a social path/serial killer/deadbeat person, you are doing something or working towards building something for the betterment of humanity. That make up collection you are starting for people of color, that entrepreneurial podcast, that application to medical/dental/pharm/law/grad school, that tech-based app, that book you are writing, is all for the advancement of humans everywhere.
I say this because so many times, we get in our heads and feel like the whole world is against us or that somehow we are guilty for pursuing our dreams. Unless your dreams are causing mental or physical harm, the universe has really no reason to conspire against you, and will actually do the opposite if you put some direction behind your vision. Whenever you start to feel this way, say to yourself, “I am doing something good for the world and the universe is conspiring to help me make this happen.”
3. Realize that humans made this modern world
Almost everything that we stress about today, from those overdraft fees that you have to pay to that jury duty that you have to show up for to even that GMO processed burger that your friend is addicted to, is because of humans. Most of our stressors come from societal standards which means that people are stressing over the constructs of a history of other people who have all pooped, stumbled on air and walked around with something green stuck in their teeth, as we all have. Once I realized this, I felt unstoppable. This is not to negate the undeniable privilege that some people have in our world, but to hopefully convince you that as long as you are breathing (and pooping, apparently), you have the power to control how you handle stress and can influence the change of things in your life, as well as other’s lives.
4. Envision yourself a year before now and a year after now
Are you still worried about the same big or little things from last year? Two years ago? Remember how stressed out you were about how you were going to pay that one bill, but somehow you got it paid? Remember when that person did you wrong and it took up all of your mental space, but now it seems like a lifetime ago? You need this optimism that things will change moving forward.
Take some time to meditate, whether it be in the morning, at night or right in the thick of an anxious moment, and picture your ideal life a year from now. What will have worked itself out? What will your bank account look like? How will you feel? Don’t worry about how it will happen at this time, just make it clear what will happen in the future. Also, remove “I want” from your vocabulary when you talk about your future. Things will happen. Things will work out.
5. Realize that something needs to change
No more panicking or crying in your car during your lunch break. No more dreading the sound of your alarm clock because it signals that you have to start another day. No more going into that dark and frazzled space in your brain when someone exchanges casual pleasantries by asking, “how are you?” You were not meant to live life this way. Realize that.
A change could be developing a morning routine that involves meditation, a nature walk, journaling and breakfast. It could be going to sleep early and waking up earlier. It could be a new job, realizing your entrepreneurial passion, moving to a new city or having a conversation with your boss. It could be a gym membership, drinking more water or spending more time on the health of your skin/hair/appearance. It could be ridding yourself of toxic people or doing a social media cleanse.
No matter what it is, you need to figure out the source by listening to your physiological reaction to certain situations. If you are ever around someone or doing something and you get a pressing feel in that spot on your forehead between your eyebrows or a weird feeling underneath your diaphragm, pay attention. This could be your body telling you that this is causing you stress.
6. Remember that you don’t have to tackle life alone
I’ve realized that not everyone is lucky enough to have their family as a support system, but even in this case, you are not alone. Whether it be family, friends, a co-worker, a mentor, a life coach, or a friend in business, you have people that you can turn to with your questions and slumped shoulders. Therapy is also a great place to be, no matter where you are at in life. Just know that every problem has a solution, even the hard ones, and sometimes you need to let your support system be your study group so that you can pass the test.
So tell me, how are you feeling today?
*Images from the Netflix Original, The Incredible Jessica James