We’re halfway through 2020, and it already seems like a doozy. In addition to the current pandemic, there have been enormous wildfires in Australia, a divisive political climate, and murder hornets invading the western U.S., it might seem like the world has gone completely insane. There’s a lot of noise out there, and it’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed.
Unplug from Social Media
In these times when we’re supposed to be social distancing, it can feel isolating. We can’t necessarily see our family and friends the way we’re used to, and some of us may be feeling a bit isolated and lonely. That’s understandable.
One of our main ways to stay connected these days is, of course, social media. But it turns out that social media doesn’t necessarily replace social interaction or fill our social needs the way we think it does. For example, one study found that people who use Facebook frequently also often feel dissatisfaction with their life.
That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly unplug yourself from social media. Try to spend a day or a weekend without going through your usual online habits. And if you want to take it a step further, try doing a total media fast (no TV, no smartphones, no digital games, etc.). You’ll be amazed at how much more clearly you can think when you don’t have other people’s images and commentary taking up space in your brain.
It can be tempting in these times to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Americans across the country seem to be taking that route, with some alcohol distributors reporting a 50 percent increase in sales since March. It makes sense, given that alcohol causes the body to release endorphins, which makes us feel more relaxed. But it’s also a depressant, a drug classification referring to substances that slow down the body’s processes. As the name suggests, depressants can also make a person feel, well, depressed.
If you’re feeling extra stress or anxious right now, it’s probably best to avoid alcohol altogether. While it’s tempting to blunt our emotions when we’re faced with seemingly insurmountable issues, this can only lead to feeling them more intensely. It can also lead to worse feelings, including suicidal thoughts.
Stay Focused on the Present
When we get overwhelmed with stress, our brains sometimes run wild with various thoughts, making us feel like we’ve completely lost control. The best way to handle this is to practice mindfulness. We’ve discussed this before, so we won’t go into too much detail here. That said, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to sit down, close your eyes, and focus on your breath for a few minutes. Don’t worry about thoughts coming into your head; acknowledge them and let them go.