Coping strategies if you're feeling overwhelmed

Do things feel like they’re getting too much? Here are some tips to help you manage stress and worry.

Running a business is hard work, even at the best of times. Throw in the uncertainty and financial challenges of a pandemic and it’s understandable why some people are struggling mentally – especially when faced with additional stresses like isolation and the pressures of home-schooling.

If things feel like they’re getting too much, finding a healthy coping strategy is the best way forward. Here are some practical tips to help you manage stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Stay active

Physical activity isn’t just good for your health – it’s been linked to better mental wellbeing too. While the government recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, even a brisk walk at lunch or after work could help you ‘get out of your head’ and improve your outlook. Regular exercise is even better, so consider walking or cycling to work if a gym or jogging doesn’t fit your routine.

Can you make sleep a priority?

Sleep quality is crucial to both mental wellbeing and long-term physical health (better sleep has even been associated with a healthy immune system). Improve your sleep quality by getting into a wind down routine before bed, stick to a regular bedtime, and avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol later in the day. Also, bed is for sleeping, not technology, so put the phone away.

Stay connected

Human contact is a universal need. Social connection has a way of breaking monotony, improving your outlook, and reminding us what’s important in life. Consider reaching out to your friends or family to organise a COVID-safe catchup. Going on walks together or getting a takeaway coffee and sitting in the park are just two ways you can connect with someone whilst practicing social distancing.

Consider mindfulness or meditation

Mindfulness is the art of being present and conscious in the moment without judgement or distraction. A lot of clinical evidence suggests that it’s great for our mental health. Mindfulness helps you be “present” and in control of yourself, which minimises stress and worry. You’ll find many mindfulness apps and recordings online, including these guided relaxation videos from Glen Eira Leisure.

Don’t forget self-care

Looking after others comes naturally to so many of us, however, it’s hard to do a good job of caring if it’s at the expense of your own wellbeing. Make sure you create space in your life to take care of yourself. A little downtime, an occasional catch-up with a friend, or time alone with a sketchpad or in the shed are just a few examples of how you can introduce self-care into your routine. You’ll find that taking care of someone in need (or a business for that matter) is easier when you’re not feeling run down.

Try to avoid the bad stuff

Many people try to cope with their worries by resorting to excessive alcohol, junk food, tobacco, gambling or even illicit drugs. While they may seem to provide temporary relief, ultimately they don’t fix your problems. You may feel even worse once the stimulant or ‘thrill’ wears off. Nonetheless, it’s important to find effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress. One of the best ways to do that is to talk about it (see below).

It’s ok to ask for help

Over the past year, we’ve had to contend with job losses and uncertainty, mortgage and rent stress, isolation, and a deadly disease. No wonder many of us are struggling.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking to a professional can make a difference. Many financial counselling services and free phone and online mental health counselling services are available in Victoria and nationally.