12 Ways to Bring Your Overwhelmed Mind Back to A Pleasant Reality
Actionable reminders when you feel least at ease.
It was happening again.
Frozen, he remained in his bathroom while I called out to him through the phone.
“Luke! Luke! What’s happening?”
“Luke! Luke! Are you with me?”
And then I heard it.
“I’m here Jordan. My mind is spinning. I’m so nervous. I feel like I’m going to puke again. I have no idea what to do. Please, help me end this. Make it stop.”
Luke was having an anxiety attack. His body was responding by becoming physically ill. His test anxiety had wrapped around him like a cobra in the rainforest and was squeezing as tightly as it could.
“You can fight this, Luke.” I said proudly. “Remember some of the actionable strategies to bring your overwhelmed mind back to a pleasant reality.”
These techniques are more in the moment, short-term recommendations. They are helpful in the midst of the traumatic experience.
1. Anthropomorphize What Scares You
Give your fear a name. Give it arms, hands, legs, and even a face. If you see your fear as something more relatable, something more approachable, you’ll be more equipped to tolerate it. This is why we have Cookie Monster or Oscar the Grouch.
If Luke could bring his exam to life, he could have less trouble facing it. It would help bring more of a lightness to the situation. Through anthropomorphic design, you allow your imagination to take control. Your playful mind is more suited to adapt to the overwhelming stress.
2. Trigger A Calm, Happy Moment
The opposite of chaos is peace. When in the midst of panic, what can we do to counteract these emotions? Find solace.
Call somebody with whom you’ve had a peaceful, happy encounter. Think of somebody who brings you calmness and joy. The thought of this person and the memory of your tranquil moments together can help bring your mind back to a more neutral state. Feeling good memories is a therapeutic tool, and it helps even more to rehash them with somebody who experienced it with you.
3. Have A Good Quote Nearby
When things seem futile, it’s crucial to surround yourself with hope. Positive or motivational quotes can serve as reminders that you will make it back to your desired norm.
Think about why classrooms are filled with inspiring posters. Why are desks filled with pictures of family, loved ones, and fun times? It’s because we need cues to help us remember what matters most. We need to have faith at our disposal.
4. Find Something to Pet
There’s a scene in Jonah Hill and Russell Brand’s Get Him to the Greek where Hill’s character seems to be on edge, on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. Brand’s character urges him to “stroke the furry wall.” In fact, he even ends up writing a song about it.
Although comedic, Hill and Brand are onto something. Pet therapy is a valuable tool which can release endorphins and provide a calming effect. This helps alleviate pain, stress, and anxiety. If you have no pets nearby, find something soft and pet it. The comfortable feeling can emulate the stress release of petting our animal friends.
5. Become Useful
I was on the phone with a client who was in the middle of a very painful episode. He had just endured heartbreak, and his mind was telling him a million and one different things about why his girlfriend had broken up with him. He called me while getting groceries and shared openly about his feelings. But, in the midst of sharing, I heard him chat with a woman who couldn’t reach something on one of the store shelves. He helped her grab it, and then she asked him for a few more things. He agreed.
When getting back on the phone with me, he commented on how he was actually feeling a bit better. Helping someone else had in turn helped him. Maybe you won’t always be in a market to help people with their shopping but finding a way to become useful can be liberating from whatever stresses are present in your life.
6. Bounce Up and Down
Tony Robbins is a major advocate of a small trampoline called a Rebounder. Celebrities like Gisele Bündchen, Eva Longoria, and Cindy Crawford swear by their trampoline workouts. But not only does bouncing up and down work your thighs and glutes, but it also it works your brain.
It may feel silly, but that is part of the point. When overwhelmed or overly stressed, sometimes getting out of your own head by feeling goofy can be a powerful trick. Additionally, the exercise will ease some tension and force you to focus on your breathing.
These recommendations are beneficial to start implementing into your everyday life. Remembering not to take ourselves so seriously is important, and it can help us when we feel like our stressors are taking control.
7. Dive Deep into Inspirational Fiction
Inspirational fiction allows me to live in a world where hope and prosperity run rampant. These books introduced me to characters with whom I could empathize. These stories built up my faith muscles and reminded me that there is still positivity; still good; still happiness circulating around the world.
Books like The Alchemist, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Go-Giver all deliver that much-needed oomph you need to remain in high spirits. Literature is a highly therapeutic tool and immersing yourself in inspirational fiction can remind you of all the best parts of humanity.
8. Think Twice About Correcting Small Mistakes
When Oprah Winfrey was born, her Aunt Ida named her “Orpah” after a character in The Bible’s Book of Ruth. But Oprah’s family, unfamiliar with the name, pronounced and spelled the name “Oprah,” as we know her today.
Although the name Orpah remains on Oprah’s birth certificate, she decided that after dozens and dozens of corrections, maybe a little mistake wasn’t so bad. Maybe this little mistake was a subtle hint that we are imperfect. We can’t control others, and we must accept our lives as they are while doing our best to make them what we wish them to be.
9. Let Your Mind Wander in Enjoyment Before Bed
I believe that watching mindless, enjoyable comedies before bed is one of the true hidden secrets to overcoming intense bouts of stress and anxiety. Not to mention, it helps me fade into a pleasant and peaceful slumber.
There’s research about this too. James Zeitzer, an associate professor at Stanford University in the Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine suggests that certain “must-sleep TV shows” provides a distraction for us to get out of our own way and allow for a pleasant reality to occur.
10. Use More GIFs and Emojis
There’s something about being visual and being silly with your communication which helps us limit the amount of tension we let build up in our brains and bodies. A 2007 study found that naming and representing our emotions can lessen the experience of these emotions. It also allows others to get a sense of your mood without you having to fully describe it.
Be a little more playful how you communicate. Have some fun with it. Allow your imagination and your emotions to be represented by the way you interact with others via text or email.
11. Read to Your Inner Child
Watch more animated Disney films. Read new children’s books. Go back to some of your old favorites. Literature and entertainment directed at children provide an extremely low-stress way to remember the vital components of life.
12. Blend Intensity with Levity
Serious things in life do happen. Pain is inevitable. Sadness is inescapable. But the less seriously we’re able to take ourselves, the better we’re able to respond to these serious events with clarity, as opposed to a panic-stricken, overstimulated mind.
After a tough day at work, blow off steam with a meal and some drinks at a local bar. An intense conversation is usually followed up with a huge hug. A ceremony comes with a party. Mix serious with enjoyment and you’ll increasingly adapt better to those moments of unavoidable concern.
Sharing personal development through creative storytelling