ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Reducing Stress: What Can I Change Now and What Has to Wait?

Updated on January 14, 2015
| Source

Confused, Overwhelmed and the Big Picture is Just Too Much?

When individuals are upset or overwhelmed, it is an uncomfortable and often frightening time. The big picture seems like too much, and the little things are driving you slightly nuts.Being confused, stressed, and overwhelmed makes people an emotional time bomb; sometimes exploding on others and sometimes imploding and harming themselves.

Fiona Wood, writing in Six Impossible Things, describes us as: “Stress level: extreme. It's like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.” I've felt that way, and it is not a good feeling.

The causes for feeling overwhelmed are going to differ from person to person. Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman suggested in 1984 that stress results from, "an imbalance between demands and resources” or as occurring when “pressure exceeds one's perceived ability to cope”.

Some predictable situations, behaviors, and attitudes that can cause confusion and overwhelmed include:

  • Relationships – both new beginnings and endings of relationships
  • Physical or mental health conditions – for yourself, a loved one or someone close to you
  • Major Changes: Going off to school, job change, marriage, divorce, or separation
  • Job Promotions
  • Financial Difficulties
  • Expecting yourself and others to do things perfectly
  • Taking on too much, at work, in a relationship, or at home
  • Not understanding time management
  • Procrastination

What to Do...What to Do?

Take the time to isolate the variable situations in your life that are bothering you and assign a percent of your feelings to the particular components of that situation. For instance, a person new in recovery from their substance abuse. They may be completely overwhelmed by all that they have to do for their recovery or their perception of all that they are required to do.

They would start with “100% of my overwhelmed and confused feelings are about this thing called recovery", and then identify the aspects of that situation that are causing the confused and overwhelming feelings.

What Creates the Stress?

Identify the Variables that create the stress.  Then map strategies to effectively deal with them.
Identify the Variables that create the stress. Then map strategies to effectively deal with them. | Source

Deal with the Smaller Components Rather than the Big Picture

Robert Pozen thinks that, "Most people get overwhelmed by the insignificant decisions of their lives. I'm urging people to minimize the time spent on these when they're not critical to their most important goals."

When you break variables down, you can sometimes see that a particular aspect is not a major contributor to your stress, and you can focus your mental, emotional and physical energies to changing another aspect.

By making small changes, you can lessen your confusion and being overwhelmed and lower your stress. Mapping out strategies, deciding the order of dealing with the variables, and planning actions will help you feel less confused and overwhelmed.

Now that the variables are isolated, take each variable and decide if there is anything that you can do:

  1. Immediately to relieve some of the feelings
  2. In the near future, and be less anxious because you have a plan
  3. Accept that there is nothing that you can do to change the situation and let it go


Priorities, Strategies and Decisions

Mapping out strategies, deciding the order of dealing with the variables, and planning actions will help you feel less confused and overwhelmed.
Mapping out strategies, deciding the order of dealing with the variables, and planning actions will help you feel less confused and overwhelmed. | Source

Prioritize Your Actions for Now, Later or Learn to Let it Go

Prioritizing and creating strategies can relieve some of the pressure that you put on yourself if you make a decision that something can be done later, providing you are not just procrastinating. Procrastinating can happen when you do not know what to do first. Or you are uncertain about how to do something, or you just do not want to put the time, energy or effort into the task.

  1. If you are uncertain what to do first, ask for advice.
  2. If you don't know how to do something, ask knowledgeable people.
  3. If you decide that you do not want to do something, then learn to accept this decision, without stressing and feeling guilty about the decision.

Guilt Does Not Always Motivate People

Guilt is a non-productive emotion if it doesn't motivate you. It is a case of you cannot have it both ways, as guilt is a non-productive, non-motivational emotion unless you change the behaviors that create it.

Therefore, if you put off an action or change for the future, make a timeframe for resolving your variable. Then stick to the plan, but don't spend a lot of time talking about how guilty you feel. If you truly felt guilty, you might change that variable now.

For instance, if you elect to study recovery materials for one hour each night, don't feel guilty if something comes up that is of greater priority, and you can't get to it that night. Simply get back on schedule the following evening.

If you are going to have to change behaviors to relieve your feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed, do not try to change them all; three may be enough at this point.

Accept that some situations will not be changed by any of your actions.

How Can an Isolating Exercise Help Me? By Determining Solutions

Deciding that there are actions that you can take now and behaviors that you will do later help you lessen your level of stress when you are confused and overwhelmed
Deciding that there are actions that you can take now and behaviors that you will do later help you lessen your level of stress when you are confused and overwhelmed | Source

Living Successfully with Less Stress, too

Did this article help you see that there are actions you can take that will relieve your stress?

See results

What Can You Expect When You Make Decisions and Take Organized Actions?

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions." Jim Rohn

When you commit to and follow through with organized, planned actions, you may find that your feelings are changing, also. Some predictable new feelings might include:

  • Confident
  • Disciplined
  • Encouraged
  • Fulfilled
  • Pleased
  • Productive
  • Proud
  • Satisfied
  • Uplifted

When we learn to prioritize, isolate variables and spend our time, energy and effort in productive activities, we reduce our stress, feel more positive and get more accomplished. With just this simple isolating exercise, we have begun to correct some things that cause us to feel confused or overwhelmed.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 3 years ago from Georgia

      Good Evening, Crystal. It is times like that when I just use the 15 minute rule - what is the most important thing from the A-B-C priorities and do that. I put mental blinders on about the other article I have to write, or the web page that needs attention, or the blog that is now three days overdue for the monthly update. I also pay myself forward with a promise of a bath with bubbles and/or 20 minutes of a fiction book or a walk in the woods with the dog.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      I relate to this very much. I just wrote a hub about dealing with feeling chronically overwhelmed and your hub appeared at the bottom of mine, which is how I discovered you here. I can never seem to find any solution to my stress and everything seems equally important. It's a very difficult way to live for sure. I have a list a mile long of the things causing my stress - I do like your idea of trying to at least identify all the variables, although when I do that, I often feel like there are so many that it's hopeless.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 3 years ago from Georgia

      Nice to meet you, too.

      I lost my job of 20 years about 2 years ago when the women's recovery home I opened in 1990 had to close. I too avoided people, found refuge in shopping and gardening, so I can relate.

      My writing helps me frame my thoughts, feelings and plan actions that will move me forward. I also found that discussing what was going on with me in a safe, supportive environment was beneficial, so I doubled up on meetings after about 6 weeks of plant and purchase therapy.

      I look forward to reading more of your Hubs.

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 3 years ago from UK

      A very useful and interesting article, voted up, pinned and shared.

      I am currently suffering from severe stress and found this article to have some very helpful information.

      I am not yet at a stage where I can think of a plan and unfortunately my confidence levels are are rock bottom to the point that I go shopping at night so that I don't meet anyone I know. Depression and Anxiety are at an all time high at the moment and lack of sleep is hindering my recovery.

      I am trying to use my writing as a therapy tool along with gardening when the weather is fine. I have been off work for six weeks so I guess it is early days yet. I will bookmark this article for use when I feel more able to cope.

      Thank you for writing it...and thank you for following me. It is very nice to meet you.

    Click to Rate This Article