I laid on the ground unable to move, incapable of grasping on to anything. Everything went numb while the world spun round and round in my mind.
I was overwhelmed. And it felt horrible.
I was flying around in a sharknado, hoping I would land safely and get rescued as Tara Reid had been. Everything and everyone was a shark on land about to bite.
Although this has only happened a few times in my life, I’m not alone in this. Anxiety, depression and overwhelm are things that people seem to be dealing with more and more, especially amongst college students.
And that frankly, hurts my heart.
The truth is, it isn’t too much of a surprise. The daily load and expectations of life have grown and the number of choices available to us is now uncountable.
If you have ever felt overwhelmed, here are four things to try out.
1. Reframe how you talk about yourself.
Become your inner LeBron James, and refer to yourself in third person.
Make a very subtle shift in your language and how you refer to yourself. Transition from “I” statements to, yes, speaking about yourself by using your full name, “Kirsten Trammell”
When you think, “I have to prepare this business plan, I have to give a talk in front of all these people without anything prepared…” it begins to feel impossible. But when you create a sense of distance from yourself and what you are saying, studies have found that people are more likely to support and advise themselves.
You don’t need to walk around constantly talking in third person, but in the moments when you really need to step out of being overwhelmed, practice this technique. Do it out loud, there is a profound difference between people who only had positive thoughts in their minds versus those that recited them out loud.
We are so kind to our best friends, start talking to yourself like you are your own best friend. “Kirsten, you have totally got this!”
2. Eliminate how many choices you make.
Ever heard the saying variety is the spice of life? Well, the amount of variety (spice) available in life has become so abundant it’s nearly impossible to eat anything without getting second-degree burns.
Even when it comes time to relax, the choices are endless. If you are anything like how I once was, the simple act of picking a movie looked something like this:
7:00 pm: You pick up the remote and begin scrolling through the endless sea of options.
7:45 pm: You are still searching and realize it has eaten up most of the time set aside to watch a movie in the first place.
8:00 pm: You give up, and instead watch a rerun episode of Gossip Girl.
8:15 pm: You have already seen this episode five times, get bored and end up scrolling through your phone on social media half watching.
9:00 pm: The show ends and you begin to beat yourself up about wasting the last 2 hours of your day.
Now, that isn’t only television, consider fitness apps that grant you access to various studios and workout styles, restaurants with menus the size of a small novel and an endless list of nonprofits to donate to.
It is all so unnecessary. And all the options end up hurting, not helping improve your life.
Begin to throw out what you don’t need to focus on. Pick one show you watch, one breakfast food you eat, and one style of shirt to wear. When you eliminate these really unnecessary decisions from your life it becomes easier to remain calm and take action when important moments arise. Ever wonder why Steve Jobs only ever wore black turtlenecks? He wasn’t about to waste any time deciding what to wear and wanted to focus his energy on more important things, like taking over the world one phone at a time.
This will pull you out of the constant state of indecision and help you move forward with the day.
3. Move your body, in a special way.
You have likely been told to exercise regularly in order to stay healthy and alleviate stressful symptoms like overwhelm. But have you thought about why this is and what types of exercise are best?
There is one specific type of exercise that takes things a step further than simply running or doing aerobic cardio, and it is dancing. The act of dancing literally changes how your brain functions. Dance activates sensory and motor circuits in your brain, and music stimulates your brain’s reward center.
Go out for a girl’s night to dance in a club, or even better, take a choreography dance class. This is the double-magic of dance. Studies have found when you are actively trying to synchronize your movement with another person your self-esteem is higher, and you like the people you are synchronized to more.
Hop online, and find a cardio hip-hop, Zumba or contemporary class and go learn some new moves! Not only will you get a good workout in but your feeling of overwhelm will be washed away by the sweet tunes overhead.
I hate excuses, so if you’re saying “I’m are afraid to dance in front of a room of people”, get over it. Or, start out by doing some 20 minute YouTube video dance tutorials to become comfortable and still get the hot benefits of dance.
Your mind and body are intimately connected, and while your brain does control your body’s movement, the way in which you move greatly affects the way you think and feel. It’s time to get groovy friends!
4. Start a conversation.
You may reach a point where no matter how much you journal about your feelings, meditate in the morning and exercise during the day, the overwhelm still exists. And that is okay, there are other solutions.
A professional will help you determine what the root cause is for this uncomfortable mental place you continue to find yourself in.
When living in a state of overwhelm, it might feel really daunting to seek out a specific person that can offer guidance and support. Sit down with a trusted friend or family member and ask them to help you find someone that would be a good fit. They will be a support in the process and help you make the final decision when the options may seem too vast.
After finding all of these tools I can proudly say my sharknado has reduced to a small pond of fish that swim through my mind on occasion.
Hang in there and the simple fact that you are looking for solutions is a great start to helping yourself!
This article first appeared on Medium.