We all experience the ebb and flow of life. Some days we feel motivated, strong, resilient, and unstoppable! But emotions can easily shift from one day to the next. Feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and stagnant — though not ideal — is normal too. There’s a lot going on in the world, so if you’re feeling stuck, try not to judge yourself. You’d be surprised to know how many people are feeling the exact same. According to 2022 data, stress is continuing to rise, with 84% (compared to 78% in 2021) of Americans experiencing weekly stress. That said, although these feelings are (unfortunately) all too common, it doesn’t make them any easier to manage. In fact, they can feel unpredictable, debilitating, and even scary. The good news? There are simple ways to support yourself on these tough days and even prevent these symptoms from occurring. So, if you’re wondering what to do when you’re overwhelmed or how to reduce anxiety, you’ve come to the right place!
Ahead, learn actionable tips for how to support your mental health and pull yourself out of a funk, no matter what you’re experiencing.
Fast-Acting Tips That Can Boost Mental Health, For Whatever You’re Feeling
The truth is that stress is inevitable. We all have triggers, and we’ve all experienced overwhelming situations that leave us feeling anxious or stuck. While we can utilize preventative measures to manage our stress and protect our mental health (think: a nutrient-dense diet, starting a meditation practice, or getting enough sleep), we can’t prevent stressful situations from occurring. That’s why we’re giving you coping strategies and actionable tips to implement whenever you’re in need of support!
So the next time you’re feeling stuck, lonely, stressed, or anything less than your balanced self, give these fast-acting mental health tips a try. These tools can help regulate your nervous system right then and there to bring you a sense of calm.
What To Do When You Feel Anxious
Practice Deep Breathing
When you’re feeling anxious, come back to your breath. Close your eyes, come to a comfortable seat, and place one hand over your chest and one hand on your belly. Inhale through your nose for a count of 1-2-3-4, pause, then slowly exhale out your mouth on the same count. Repeat!
Struggling to get started? Try this guided Box Breathing with DeAndre Sinette.
Take a Deep Inhalation of Lavender Essential Oil
Keep a small bottle of organic lavender on hand. According to research, simply smelling this essential oil can elicit a feeling of calm and ease! When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, add a drop or two to your wrists and take a deep breath in to ground down and recenter your mind. You can also add it to a diffuser, warming Epsom salt bath, or even mix a few drops into your favorite lotion or body oil.
Some other stress and anxiety taming essential oils include:
- Lemon essential oil
- Rose essential oil
- Cinnamon essential oil
- Sandalwood essential oil
Go For an Uninterrupted Walk
Leave your phone at home and go on a distraction-free walk. Simply moving your body can ease anxious thoughts by switching your mind from a state of fight-or-flight to rest and digest.
Can’t turn your mind off? Try listening to a meditation as you walk or press play on an inspiring audiobook or podcast.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering how to reduce anxiety, calm your mind with a brief five-minute meditation. If you’re new to meditation, it can seem intimidating at first. But try committing to just five minutes without judging your thoughts or emotions. If you’re struggling to quiet your mind, that’s ok! Let your thoughts come up.
Here are some five-minute meditations to help you reduce stress, quiet your mind, and get started with your meditation journey:
- Daily Breath with DeAndre Sinette
- Self-Kindness with Amanda Gilbert
- Morning Mindset with Amanda Gilbert
What To Do When You Feel Stuck
Make One Small Change
Wondering what to do when you’re overwhelmed and stuck in a negative thought pattern? Start with one small change. Maybe you change your mindset, eat healthier meals, or wake up just ten minutes earlier to fit in one mindful aspect to your morning routine. Small changes add up to big ones with time!
Ditch The Negative Mindset For a Positive Way of Thinking
Changing your perspective can have an immediate benefit on your mental health. When your negative thoughts take over, think of one thing you’re grateful for and watch your mindset shift.
Stop Overthinking and Doubting Yourself
It’s easy to replay every “what-if” scenario in your head and imagine the worst. But, if you’re wondering how to reduce anxiety, it’s time to master your emotions! Instead of imagining the worst outcome, consider the best. What do you want to happen? Then, imagine that positive scenario coming true. You’re simply rewiring your mind! Over time, you will learn to “snap out” of those negative thought patterns.
Make a List of Goals
Think both short-term and long-term. What do you want to accomplish today? This week? This month? This year? Making a plan can help cultivate motivation and encourage you to take action.
RELATED: How to Set Fitness Goals That Stick
Try a New Hobby
When you’re in a rut, find a new hobby to spark your interest. Think: a yoga training, cooking class, or an interesting academic course!
What To Do When You Feel Tired
Drink a Large Glass of Water
Oftentimes dehydration (even in the slightest) can lead to feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Beyond your energy, this can affect your mood, stress, and even sleep. Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning, and carry a bottle with you throughout the day. When you feel tired, get sipping!
Eat an Energy-rich Snack
An energizing snack full of stress-relieving nutrients can help combat fatigue and boost energy. Try to eat snacks rich in energy-boosting nutrients like zinc, omega 3’s, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
Try meal prepping a few healthy snacks at the beginning of the week so that you have quick and easy options when you need a pick-me-up! Think: chia seed pudding, egg muffins, or energy balls.
Try these Peanut Butter Bliss Balls — they’re made with energy-boosting ingredients like peanut butter, almonds, and protein powder. And it doesn’t hurt that they taste like dessert!
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 scoop protein powder
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt
Step #1: Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.
Step #2: Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes and then roll into bite-sized rounds. Set in the freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying.
Step #3: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Take a Cold Shower
In addition to soothing sore muscles and boosting recovery, research suggests a cold shower could boost mood and reduce fatigue. While standing in the frigid cold isn’t always the most enjoyable, we can’t deny how refreshed we feel after!
Go For a Walk Outdoors
Whether you take a walk or fit in a light workout, getting in some low-intensity exercise can boost your energy, alleviate stress, and even make you more productive.
What To Do When You Feel Sad
Journal Your Emotions
Instead of internalizing your feelings, let them out on paper. We like to call this a “brain dump” — simply write whatever’s on your mind, and get those emotions out!
Cry it Out
Sometimes a good cathartic cry is exactly what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or sad. In fact, a Harvard study found crying releases the feel-good chemicals oxytocin and endogenous opioids, more commonly known as endorphins. This can soothe pain, both physically and mentally!
Clean a Room or Area
Did you know cleanliness and mental health are related? A clean space can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and sadness while acting as a productive way to clear your head.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Even on the worst of days, there’s always something to be grateful for. Start a gratitude list and continually add to it. When you’re feeling low, lost, or sad, re-read your journal and remind yourself of all the positive things in your life!
What To Do When You Feel Frustrated or Angry
Breathe and Count to 10
Those slow, deep breaths we mentioned earlier? Come back to those here. When you’re feeling frustrated or angry, take a deep breath and count to ten. Still feeling unsettled? Keep breathing until the tension starts to dissipate. You’ll come back to the situation with a more clear and calm mind.
Do a HIIT Workout
Channel all of that fiery energy into a heart-pounding HIIT workout! You’ll swap negative emotions for those feel-good hormones that flood your system after a sweaty workout.
Practice Your Favorite Mindful Activity or Stress-Relieving Technique
Check-in With Your Emotions
Without judgment! It’s ok to experience emotions like anger or frustration. But check in with why you’re feeling this way — it can help you identify the root cause and take steps toward managing it. Maybe you’re overcommitting, and you need to scale back. Maybe you’re overtired, and you need to get your sleep routine in check. Or, maybe you’re dehydrated or lacking proper nutrients — hanger is a real thing!
What To Do When You Feel Lonely
Find a Support Network
This could be family, friends, local organizations, and of course, your doctor or therapist. The bottom line: when you’re feeling lonely, ask for support! There are so many people ready and willing to offer a helping hand.
Random Acts of Kindness
Making someone else happy makes YOU feel happy (and less alone) too. Seriously, it’s a win-win for all involved! Science shows giving back comes with major benefits, such as reducing stress, boosting mood, and benefiting your overall health. Plus, it’s free, simple, and good for the soul.
Sign off Social Media
Sometimes social media isn’t so social. In fact, if you’re feeling lonely, sometimes it can make you feel more isolated. You’re not alone in feeling this way, either. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. Unfortunately, more than 60% of Americans report feeling negatively impacted by social media. So, take a social media detox and live in the present moment! Call a friend, smile at a stranger, or sit at a cafe and prioritize real-life connections.
Embrace Furry Friends
Maybe you adopt a dog, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or spend time with a friend’s furry animal! In addition to showering us with unconditional love, pets have been shown to boost mood, reduce stress, and make us feel less alone.
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Tips To Boost Your Mental Health In The Moment
Don’t let your emotions take over your life! Keep this list on hand and refer to our actionable tips the next time you’re in need of a little support. But remember, these coping strategies don’t replace the need for medical attention or advice. If you find these feelings are disrupting your day-to-day life, speak with a medical professional like your doctor or therapist. While these tips serve as effective coping mechanisms, everybody is different. Ultimately, your health and happiness are our number one goal!
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