Stella Goddard

BA (Hons) Counselling
Registered and Accredited Counsellor BACP, Registered and Accredited Counsellor ACC,
Registered Accredited Professional NCPS
Recognised Registered and Accredited Counsellor with Bupa, Aviva and Cigna

How do you cope when life seems out of control?

This article will help us take a moment to consider who we are, where we are and where we are planning on going. The last 20 months or so have been almost indescribable – we may feel very small and insignificant in the face of so many challenges. We have been bombarded daily with so much anxiety and stress provoking information. We all feel sad and angry with the loss of life, aggression and violence.

I have noticed that many people are exhausted physically and emotionally. Sometimes people seem to have forgotten how to take care of themselves or are too tired to do so. The world, at the moment, doesn’t seem to allow us to ‘step away’ and find some peace. We get caught up in ‘one thing after another’ and don’t know what we need or want.

We all have needs – this is part of being human. We need love, kindness, compassion, boundaries, healthy relationships personally and professionally. We need to be heard with respect – we need to care for ourselves and others. We also need to increase our ability and willingness to listen well. I wonder sometimes if we have dehumanized and objectified ourselves and others. I also wonder sometimes if we are afraid to stop, so we keep hurtling on with never-ending ‘busyness.’ What might it be like if we actually had a pause and became connected with ourselves and our thoughts and feelings? What could we do to take better care of ourselves?

Part of the problem is that if we are stressed and anxious we may find it difficult to think clearly. This can lead to anger, sadness, despair and feelings of powerlessness.

What can we do?

When we know who we are, we are better able to think clearly and make life-enhancing decisions rather than self-sabotaging ones. Unfortunately, sometimes our sense of self has been damaged and we may think that we are worthless, not worth loving and have no potential. Healthy self-esteem makes healthy boundaries an essential part of the way that we manage our lives. We are then better able to have a vision for our lives and fulfil our potential.

I would suggest that when things are out of control we find a place where we can be still and find some measure of peace. You may need some support from friends or family or a professional to help you do this. It is vital to think about what we can do. Start small, asking yourself ‘what one small step could I, or, might I, or, will I take?’ When we notice that we are overwhelmed a good question is ‘what do I need right now?’ It doesn’t have to be something big. Sometimes what we need is some space to work out what it is that we need. This could be literal or metaphorical space.

Where are you at the moment?

Are you feeling lost or do you have a clear sense of focus about the direction you are going in? Perhaps you feel stuck or burnt-out.

Finding some direction

I always talk about one step at a time – we may not know where exactly it is that we need to go, but if we start with taking the decisions that we can, we may be surprised to find that we have more resilience than we thought we had. Use your energy wisely. The direction will become more clear as you take each step.

It can help to think about how you have dealt with difficulties in the past and perhaps use some of those strategies.

Eating Well and Sleeping Well

Often when we are exhausted, we don’t eat or sleep well. Yet without these basic needs being met how can we be nourished properly so that we can deal with life with all of its challenges.

What do you feed your mind on?

Sometimes we are careless with what we feed our mind on. Do we feed it with gossip, destructive self-talk and put-downs of other people? Socially this may seem to be acceptable, but what impact does it have on your well-being?

Our mind is a really important place and the core of our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It is so important to be intentional and wise about what we allow in and where we set our boundaries and say no.

Choose where you will focus

When there is much going on, it is vital to choose what the most important thing is in the immediate present to focus on – again it doesn’t need to be a big thing. If we don’t make a healthy choice about where we will focus, we are in danger of becoming even more overwhelmed.

Hold on to Hope – Choose Life

When we take good care of ourselves, we are better able to make a difference to others and the world that we all inhabit. We can make a difference for the good – being kind to ourselves and other people in whatever sphere of influence we are in is crucial. In conclusion I encourage you to hold on to hope and choose life.