How to feel more in control when life gets overwhelming

"When it is obvious that goals can not be achieved, do not adjust the goals, regulate the steps of the action." ~ Confucius

I am in the middle of a career transition and it was not easy. For the first few months after leaving my job – a job I think would be perfect, where I thought I would stay for years – I was paralyzed about anything related to the career. I had lost my confidence in my own judgment. after all, I had thought it would be a job the one and it was not, so do I really know what I wanted?

This kind of self-doubt makes me accept myself in the end – my goals, my desires and even the validity of my feelings. This often means I'm starting to do something, I doubt what I do and how I do it, I feel anxious and crash, and then I end up doing nothing.

I am still in this transition, but once my confidence and crash paralyze me every day, I now take control and start to shape my life as I want it to.

First, let me introduce you to a story: Jessica is a high school student in the middle of SAT. She really wants to do well because she knows that getting a higher grade improves her chances of getting into her dream school and receiving scholarships.

Everyone has told her how important SAT is, how difficult it is to do well and (unfortunately) how unlikely she is to get her score. With the test, it reaches a difficult question and has no idea how to answer it. Here are two of her choices:

-Acquisition A: Jessica throws her mind, her mind full of thoughts of her dream school that slips away. tries a few different methods but only manages to eliminate a wrong choice. this second guesses herself and then realizes that time has slipped away from her and, she feels anxious and breaks out, rushing through the rest of the test.

-Select B: He ignores the question, continuing with the rest of the test and answering all the questions he feels confident about. When he returns to the difficult question, he finds that it is not as difficult as it seems for the first time and is able to solve it with confidence. She remains in control of her test experience and completes the test with confidence.

What does this example have to do with those of us who are not teenagers of high school and we are going through stressful times? Much in fact.

When Jessica encounters an obstacle in an already stressful time, she can try to impose her way, as in Option A, or skip the question and return to her as in Option B.

As a test preparation teacher, I teach my students to make the second choice through a guided exercise and the students are surprised to find out how easier the "hard" question is after responding to the easiest. The second approach strengthens confidence, while the first approach increases the stress of the test.

I wondered if I could apply this testing strategy to life or if it was too ridiculous to work. As it turns out, temporarily turning my attention to something else – by skipping the problem with the intention of coming back to it later – I was able to minimize my emotions to crash and take measures that were once paralyzed to take, steps like learning new skills.

When you experience a crash, the best way to handle it is to stop and do something else. This is the case if we are experiencing or experiencing a more complex source of stress.

We rarely do this because it is counter-intuitive. When we feel overwhelmed, we often feel that there are too many things to do, there is not enough time or resources, we do not know where to start, and overall our goals are not feasible. If there is so much to do and so few times, how can we justify the "waste of time" doing something else? Will this not further delay our goals?

However, seeing how ineffective Selection A is for Jessica, I realized that it could be parallel to other aspects of life. At the same time that Jessica might be disappointed or anxious, she may choose to say "not yet" or "not now" and move on to something else, knowing that the problem will be where it was.

Now, whenever I notice the shocking sense of crash, I know my next step is to stop what I do and change speeds. I could massage, fold the clothes or write, but it does not matter what I have to stop and do something else.

An amazing thing happens when I do that: regain control over the shape of my life.

Maybe I can not control all the circumstances of my life or even my feelings, but it controls how I react. When I choose to react in ways that fuel my sense of well-being and give me a sense of accomplishment, I can face challenges for what it is.

If I sit down to write a blog post it seems very discouraging right now, then I'll do some work. If my work seems difficult, I will go for a walk. If a walk seems like too much, I'll be releasing reports.

The specific work that goes beyond us and the task we choose to do instead is not the most important thing for this method. It is his inherent power selection which allows us to overcome the social definitions of success and to pursue our own sense of continuous development.

Although it is not possible to provide specific alternative actions for each scenario, here are some general ideas for things to do when you feel overwhelmed:

-I go somewhere. It could be as simple as going to another room or going somewhere in the city. Scene change can bring a new perspective to an earlier problem.

-Do something. You could design, cook or fold a paper airplane. When dealing with our creativity, we have fun and confidence-building through effort rather than results.

-But I often feel activated but no direction when I'm overwhelmed, and maybe you too. The enjoyment of your favorite exercise can improve your mood and release the prolonged energy.

-If you connect with your loved ones or with a spiritual / religious practice, connecting with others helps us to feel supported when we try something new.

While the overwhelming majority is forced to happen in our lives, we can choose to react in ways that allow us to feel confident and controlling. It's not the same as getting rid of your problems. finds a cyclical route that has the direct benefit of improving your sense of well-being and long-term benefits by helping you take action and find solutions.

If we take on the content of our lives, we can see that even when there is a crash, we have the tools to work with it and the power to shape our lives through our choices and actions.

About Gianna Cifredo

Gianna Cifredo is a freelance writer based in Central Florida. He has six years of experience in higher education, focusing on civic engagement, transition from high school to college and college entrance. She has taught SAT, ACT and GRE prep seminars, and is self-proclaimed personal development. You can find more of her writing at

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