5 Simple Ways To Feel Like You Have Control (Even When Life Is Pushing You Around)

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How To Practice Self-Care & Maintain Positive Thinking When Balancing Life Is Hard
Self, Health And Wellness

One way you can learn to keep your busy life and happiness in balance is through practicing self care.

But self-care is more than what most people realize. It's a combination of physical and mental steps, like positive thinking, to help you feel like you're in balance and control of your life.

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It isn't easy holding on to balance when life starts to tip out of control, or at least feels like it is. You know those weeks that are especially challenging, when the days seem endless and all you can do is wait to get to Friday night?

The weeks with multiple ups and downs, and really tough disappointments? The emotional roller coaster of exhaustion and overwhelm, and feeling spent?

Life feels overwhelming and it's easy to wonder if you can handle it.

You wind up teetering, trying hard to hold on to balance, and you don't want to lose your footing. But this balancing act can seem almost impossible when life gets to feeling volatile.

We all need support and encouragement, and sometimes even a mindset overhaul.

Here are 5 easy ways you can practice self care, promote your positive thinking, and take back your control when it seems like life is pushing you too hard:

1. Tell yourself you can handle this.

First of all, even if you think you can’t, you can handle this. Try using the mantra of, “I can handle this,” when doubt strikes.

The anxiety you're feeling is likely a signal for needed growth, but you are still handling this and there are many hours in a day, and many days in a week. It doesn’t have to all get done right now.

Even though life feels overwhelming, you are managing. Recognizing that you're coping, even if it isn’t graceful, can also allow you to shed a common secondary anxiety that comes along with stress: “I can’t handle this.”

You may not want to, but you can.

2. Be careful where you pin your expectations.

In the spirit of making stress as low as possible, look to limit high expectations, or any situation that tempts you to “get your heart set” on something over which you have limited control.

Your hopes and dreams are precious commodities — be protective of them, and careful not to put them at unnecessary risk. Look to focus on realistic goals, informed by what is actually happening.

Notice where you feel traction, and look to build expectations from there.

3. Remember, it's OK to be disappointed.

Even when you're keeping expectations in check, disappointments will still happen, and no matter how small they are, they can still hurt.

It hurts because you care. It’s OK to care, and it’s OK to be sad for a short while before moving forward. Life is a journey, and like any journey, pace is critical.

Do your best to stay moving so that you don’t get stuck on any one step, or disappointment, along the way.

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4. Practice self-care daily.

Your self-care can help keep us holding on to balance — especially during times of higher stress. The very times self-care is so sorely needed, it can seem harder than you'd like.

How are you sleeping? How is your nutrition? Are you hydrating and being mindful of caffeine or alcohol intake? Moving your body at all? Are power naps or power walking crossing your radar?

Look to realign places that are out of balance to help boost your stamina. Not pressure, just gentle nudges.

5. Identify how you are overextending and pull back.

When stress rears its head, you might end up stretching to meet its demands. This is how you grow and get stronger. But when you stretch too much and avoid setting limits, especially at work, you risk a diminishing return on engagement.

Focusing on perfection can make you feel out of balance and less happy as well.

Saying no can be tough, though. How could you limit some of how you are overextending? Where could you claim more time, more space for you? How, and to whom, could you say “no" or "not now” with consequences you could live with?

It is too tempting to say “no” and “not now” to your own needs in order to cope, and in the long run, this is a recipe for burnout. While flexibility might be admirable, it can be an impediment to holding on to balance. Flexibility still needs to suit your own needs to be sustainable.

Sometimes, it's when we are pulled off balance that we are reminded how to stand tall.

Life doesn’t care about your need for balance, and will keep coming at you. When life feels overwhelming,you are the only one who can hold onto balance. You are the one who gets to choose and manage your life.

Holding onto balance is how you learn to move forward in a sustainable way. Einstein once said, "Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."

Figuring out the best "moves" and continuing to do them is how you cultivate balance and resilience. Indeed it is only when you're pulled off balance that you're reminded how to stand tall.

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Dr. Alicia Clark is a licensed clinical psychologist. Looking for more help with anxiety? Check out her new book, Hack Your Anxiety, and sign-up for book bonuses including a free mini e-course to help you understand how anxiety impacts your life or subscribe to her biweekly newsletter.

This article was originally published at Alicia Clark, PSYD. Reprinted with permission from the author.