How to Cope When Life Seems Out of Your Control

Regain Control

Feel like you’re losing your grip? In today’s information-overload world, it’s easy for problems to seemingly pile up even before we attempt to address the personal issues that are also clamoring for our limited attention. A worldwide pandemic, political divides, and social unrest can all contribute to feelings of being out of control in life, while individual stresses may also combine to set us off. Coping with a personal illness or the illness of a loved one, drowning under too much work or getting laid off, dealing with adult children or aging parents, or struggling with marital conflict can all make us feel overwhelmed.

Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy coping strategies to help regain a sense of control and provide a dose of equanimity in the face of our most common stressors. Implement these 4 techniques to create a more positive, less-stressed state of mind, even when life feels like it’s going off the rails.

When you holistically care for your body—physically, mentally, and emotionally—you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever stressors come your way. Click To Tweet

4 WAYS TO REGAIN A SENSE OF CONTROL

1. Focus on what you can control.

Erratic world leaders, mutating viruses, rising gas prices—there are plenty of outside forces you simply cannot control in life. So, instead, focus on what you can control. For example, shore up your immune system to ward off illness or commit to walking or taking public transportation to work (if possible) a few days a week to offset gas expenditures. The other primary thing that is 100% in your control is your reaction to everything going on out there.

To help regulate your stress response, first eliminate any bad habits you may have (such as chronic drinking, smoking, drug use, or poor diet or sleep), as they may be sneakily sabotaging your overall well-being. Pick up positive brain health habits and tune out the noise when necessary—which may mean switching off the 24-7 news channel, halting the endless doomscrolling, or spending (technology-free) time in nature. Being more mindful about what information you allow in your life will help you focus on what’s most important in your immediate orbit.

2. Seek professional help.

When stresses threaten to overwhelm you, ignoring the problem can lead to an array of negative, even debilitating, consequences such as anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, or turning to mood-altering addictive substances for relief. Instead of trying to tackle the problem single-handedly, it might be a good idea to seek a psychiatric evaluation, which can point you toward therapy modalities that can help. For example, approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy can help mitigate the effects of chronic stress. The American Psychological Association reports that therapy, though often underutilized among the general population, is effective to help treat a variety of mental and behavioral health issues, and it works across a spectrum of population groups.

3. Practice self-care.

This step will manifest differently for different people—to some, soaking in a bubble bath or hitting a health spa helps ease their worries, while others find that giving back to others is the key to making themselves feel like a million bucks over the long haul. Over time, you’ll learn which strategies are most effective at helping you quell the signs of stress, from the calm-inducing benefits of breathing and meditation to invigorating and distracting physical activity, which has been shown to reduce depression and stress. (Bonus: Building a toolbox of possible strategies that can help will allow you to mix and match in the moments you need them most.)

Additionally, other less-expected methods of self-care, such as setting boundaries with others or knowing when to say no, can be just as important as setting time aside for personal health efforts or solitude. When you holistically care for your body—physically, mentally, and emotionally—you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever stressors come your way.

4. Reframe your thinking.

Keeping up with current events can often be stressful, but when you look at them with a bit of perspective, even a worldwide pandemic can offer up a slew of silver linings. Or, if it’s a personal problem that’s nagging you, take a step back from the situation and analyze it from different angles. Sometimes all you need is a bit of distance between you and your thoughts, understanding that you don’t need to remain a victim to the running internal commentary interrupting your everyday life. Other times, it’s helpful to face your emotions head-on, in order to kill those automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that crop up to destroy your serenity.

Whatever situation is causing you stress, try to evaluate what it may be teaching you or what unresolved issue it may be calling your attention to, or explore the ways in which it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Often, our issues are rooted in our limited view of the world, so getting outside of yourself for a moment can help put things in the proper perspective. In a few days’ time, you might even find that a mountainous problem has naturally shrunken to a molehill.

Chronic stress and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

4 Comments »

  1. Thank you very much for this article, it is very valuable. I am in a difficult, demanding situation right now and am grateful for these very helpful recommendations, particularly points 3 and 4.

    Comment by Elisabeth Schmid — April 13, 2022 @ 2:13 PM

  2. Thanks for this! Sadly a lot of mental health issue is down to limited world views. It’s an epidemic then as a lot of people are living in low level of awareness.

    Comment by Nina O'Connor — April 14, 2022 @ 2:51 AM

  3. ABSOLUTELY GREAT information. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Sharon k Shuemaker — April 14, 2022 @ 9:35 AM

  4. Thank you for “Four ways to gain a sense of control”. I am in a difficult situation right now.

    Comment by Lindalou Walker — April 15, 2022 @ 11:41 PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Contact Us

Dr. Amen's Latest Book Change Your Brain Every Day Is Now Available For Pre-Order

X