Changing Perceptions: Tips to Help You Cope When Things Feel Out of Control

When life feels chaotic or overwhelming, it can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of stress and worry. But there are things you can do to cope with worry and find some calm.

Try these tips:

  • Acknowledge your feelings
    Try to recognize what you're feeling when you're feeling it without judging it as "good" or "bad." It might help to write down how you're feeling and why.

  • Pay attention to your mindset
    The way you think about things really does affect the way you feel. If you tell yourself that something is too hard or too stressful, it's going to feel that way. But if you tell yourself you can handle something hard, you're more likely to be able to.

  • Focus more on what you can control and less on what you can't
    Here are some ideas:
    • Make a list of the things that cause you stress. Then, decide which things on the list you can take action on and which ones you can't. This can remind you what's in your control and what isn't.
    • Look for sources of stress that you can limit. Then take steps to limit them. That might mean turning off the news, staying away from social media, or even having less contact with certain people.
    • Choose to spend time on things that are meaningful to you. For example, you could do projects with your kids, foster an animal, write postcards to friends, or do random acts of kindness for your neighbors. Do things that make you feel good or bring you joy.
    • Find ways to distract yourself from your worries and fears. It could be a project, a hobby, or even making an effort to call a friend on the phone once a week. Whatever you decide, choose things that align with your values.

  • Beware of coping strategies that might make things worse
    Keeping yourself busy might take your mind off your stress, but it can also exhaust you or even add to the pressure. A glass of wine or a beer in the evening may help some people relax, but drinking isn't a great way to deal. It can actually make stress and anxiety worse. If you find that stress and anxiety are making it hard to manage daily life, talk to a doctor or a counselor.