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Anxiety - Things you can do when you are feeling overwhelmed

Step away from the situation if you can - sometimes leaving a situation that is stressing you out or is making you feel overwhelmed and anxious is the best thing you can do. You might want to go into a quieter room, go outside for some fresh air or simply go and make yourself a cup of tea.

By removing yourself from the situation you are giving yourself and your body time to calm down. You might wish to take some deep breaths or do a grounding exercise.

Do a mindfulness exercise - mindfulness is a way to ground yourself and this can have a calming effect, especially when you are feeling anxious. There are a lot of short mindfulness exercises or meditations out there, so you might want to have a look and find one that works for you. Mindfulness can be especially helpful if your anxiety is very physical because it focuses your attention on what is going on in your body and on using your breath as an anchor.

Remember that you won't always feel this way - when we are feeling anxious or in pain, it can be hard to imagine that these feelings won't last forever. Anxiety and emotions in general tend to be in motion, they flow, they come and go, they can be overwhelming and difficult to tolerate but they do pass.

Be compassionate with yourself - being anxious doesn't make you a bad or inferior person. We all experience some anxiety and that is normal. Some people experience more anxiety than others and that is okay.

Know that your feelings are valid. You don't have to apologise for feeling the way you do, they are your feelings and it's okay to feel things. It's part of what makes us human beings. Acknowledging and validating your feelings might lessen their intensity. You deserve the same kindness and compassion that you show to others.

If you're struggling to be compassionate with yourself, you might want to ask yourself what you would tell your friend or a loved one in the same situation?

Be aware of your triggers - knowing what might trigger your anxiety or cause you to feel overwhelmed is half the battle. It means that you can put things in place to best support yourself. This could be making a trusted friend or family member aware of your triggers, having coping strategies readily to hand or grounding yourself before going into certain situations. It might be having a strong self care routine, especially when you know you might come across something that could trigger your anxiety.

Often we don't know what can trigger our anxiety and that is okay too. The important thing is that you take care of yourself in whatever way feels right for you.

Boundaries - having strong boundaries is important. Often our anxiety can stem from taking on too much, may that be at work or in our social lives. We might worry about letting people down or being a disappointment. We might be scared of rejection. We might feel like we have to prove ourselves to others in order to be accepted.

But saying no to things does not make you a bad person. It doesn't mean you're not likable or worthwhile. You do not have to do anything extra to be a worthwhile human being because you already are.

Living with anxiety isn't easy, so it's important that you listen to your needs. If this is something you struggle with you might want to learn about assertiveness and communication skills.

Know what helps you - knowing what might help you when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed is important. You might wish to make a list of everything you can think of that is helpful, for example going for a walk, meditation, mindfulness, talking to a trusted friend or family member, doing something that feels soothing, breathing exercises or spending time in nature. Keep your list close by so that you can refer back to it when you need it.

Talking to someone - don't be afraid to talk about your anxiety. Having a good support network can be really helpful in managing your anxiety. Talk to someone you trust or you might wish to consider engaging in therapy.

When we are feeling anxious, we might also be experiencing feelings of shame or guilt. We might feel inferior to others because our anxiety is overwhelming. The thing is though that anxiety is more common than you might think and you might find that there are people in your family or friendship circle who are also going through something similar or have experience of feeling overwhelmed by anxiety.

There is no shame in feeling anxious and talking about it and your experiences can be helpful. It also means that the people around you know how to support you if you do have an anxiety or panic attack which in itself can be reassuring. You are not alone!

Remember that your anxiety doesn't have to define you - when you are in the grips of anxiety you might feel like that is all there is. But you are more than just your feelings of anxiety. You are a person with multiple layers and complexities. Anxiety is just one part of that.

Don't let your anxiety stop you or hold you back from the things you want in life or that make you happy. Rather than working against your anxiety, try thinking about working with your anxiety. How can you best support yourself when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed?

How can you take care of yourself?

What do you need?

Finally, remember that everyone gets anxious from time to time or has a bad day. It's normal and natural and part of trying to negotiate our way through this complex and often difficult and confusing life.

You are doing the best you can so don't be too hard on yourself - you are enough just the way you are.

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