50 things you can do when you feel defeated and overwhelmed

Even though I’ve been meditating for years, it doesn’t mean I’ll never have a bad day. That’s not the way it works.

In fact this happened just a few weeks ago…I woke up with a feeling of complete sadness and overwhelm. I was unable to relax into my morning chakra breathing exercises.

I had no idea where these feelings were coming from and I was having difficulty releasing them with my usual methods.  I burst out crying and all I could do was get back into bed. I was supposed to go to work, but my head started pounding and I just couldn’t go.

The intensity of the feeling was comparable to how I felt over ten years ago when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and died one month later.

I had no idea why my emotions were so overpowering that day. But there they were.

I give advice to people who are depressed and anxious everyday.  That’s what I do as a Physician Assistant in Geriatric Psychiatry.  I listen as people share with me their life stories and talk about all that they have lost now that they’re living in a nursing home. I help them adjust to their new life.

I’m not great at being vulnerable.  But that day, I was really having a hard time.

I just felt so sad and it felt at the time like sadness was all I was.  I couldn’t connect to the feelings of happiness or joy.

It was almost like I didn’t know how to experience them anymore.

So I reached out.  I tried calling my sisters, but no one was picking up.  Still lying in bed, I cried (and screamed a bit). My two cats, Pumpkin and Luna, joined me.  Their little nose bumps and kisses helped.

But my head hurt so much.  I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t get out of bed to go to work.

I was able to make myself a cup of fresh ginger and lemon peel tea–a great combo for headache relief.  

I took a couple of sips and decided to listen to one of my inspirational, self-motivational Audible books.  That helped some more and I finally fell asleep for a bit.

I woke up to one of my sisters calling me back. I answered and told her exactly how I was feeling, “I’m having a real bad day.  I’m so sad and overwhelmed.” She suggested doing Facetime. We started off by making some faces at each other.  

We’ve been doing this since we were kids.  Making exaggerated faces… a tired face and then asking “Do I look tired?” or a sad face and asking “Do I look sad?”  It always made us crack up.

It still worked, I chuckled, but was still sad.  We continued talking.

As we talked about our current struggles and shared advice with each other, I slowly went from laying to sitting.  I was feeling myself perk up and my headache dissolving.

By the time we said goodbye, my headache was completely gone. I felt refreshed and had a burst of inspiration.  

Soon I found myself in my art studio painting.

I have in my toolbox many strategies for times of overwhelm. This recent experience made me decide that I wanted more, just in case.

I wanted to know what others did, because we all have these feelings at times.  And sometimes they show up completely unexpected, persistent, and without any warning.

So I reached out to one of my FB groups and asked this question:  

When you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and defeated, feeling stuck and lost in negative thoughts and emotions….what do you do?

I was amazed at the number of different strategies that were suggested!

I’ve combined the list with some of my own and am excited to share them with you.

Here’s a list of 50 things you can do when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and defeated:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel
  2. Breathe
  3. Do a brain dump journaling session
  4. Spend time in nature
  5. Label your emotions
  6. Journal
  7. Create positive affirmations
  8. Have faith that tomorrow will be better
  9. Pet therapy/Visit an animal shelter
  10. Eat healthy
  11. Do mundane tasks like folding laundry or dusting
  12. Enjoy a thermal spa/shower/bubble bath
  13. Talk to your doctor or therapist
  14. Talk to a life coach
  15. Watch comedy/read comic strips/read jokes
  16. Read inspirational quotes
  17. Exercise
  18. Track your emotions in an app
  19. Connect on social media
  20. Sleep/nap
  21. Listen to inspirational books/podcasts/youtube videos
  22. Listen to a guided meditation
  23. Binge watch your favorite show
  24. Make a list of 5 things that you’re grateful for
  25. Call a friend or family member
  26. Listen to music
  27. Dance
  28. Cry
  29. Enjoy a cup of tea
  30. Walk
  31. Run
  32. Step away from what you are doing
  33. Take the rest of the day off
  34. Practice tapping to clear your chakras
  35. Check what time of month it is then start logging your mood
  36. Close your eyes and ask yourself “what do I need right now?” and then do that
  37. Go to a bookstore
  38. Buy a houseplant
  39. Make a lunch or dinner date with a friend
  40. Go to the movies
  41. Make exaggerated faces at yourself in the mirror
  42. Draw/paint/color
  43. Go to the beach
  44. Write down your strengths, the things you do well and are proud of
  45. Clean/organize your living space
  46. Take some items off your to-do list
  47. Learn to say “no”
  48. Ask for help/delegate
  49. Drink water/hydrate
  50. Remind yourself that this feeling is not permanent, but simply a part of life’s ups and downs

I’d love to hear what you do when you’re feeling defeated or overwhelmed.

Do you have a strategy you can share with me?  Something else I can add to my own toolbox?

Send me an email, I’d love to hear from you!  kara@poormetea.com

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