stressed out man

What Do You Do When Life Feels Out of Control?

Everyone feels out of control sometimes, whether they have too much going on, aren’t feeling great, or are just lost amid the general confusion of life. This is especially true for anyone who struggles with substance use. Not only does substance use cloud your priorities and multiply your problems but it’s often a symptom of another mental health issue. If your life feels out of control, here are some tips for orienting yourself.

Take a few deep breaths.

Start simple. If you feel totally overwhelmed and bewildered, your anxiety is probably high and you’re trying to think about too much at once. It’s hard to make yourself calm down but it’s much easier to slow down your breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths activates your rest-and-digest system, slows your heart rate and breathing, and helps you think more clearly. Take regular breaths with a slightly longer exhale than inhale. 

Identify your priorities.

When you have too much to do or you just feel overwhelmed by possibilities, take some time to identify your priorities. They could be your priorities for the day or they could be larger priorities. Ideally, those will overlap. While there are plenty of things we could focus on at any given moment, there are only a few things that are really important to us. Figure out what those things are and let them guide you.

Identify something you can control.

When everything feels out of control, find something you can control, like your breathing, as noted above. Finding something you can control in your life, no matter how small, gives you a foothold. It builds your sense of self-efficacy and gets you moving. Often, once you do something small, the next step will become more apparent. 

Talk to a therapist.

When you feel lost and out of control, an outside perspective often helps. A therapist is an expert who has seen all kinds of problems and can help you identify what you want and what’s keeping you from getting it. We’re surprisingly bad at knowing ourselves and knowing why we do what we do. A therapist can help you demystify your problems.

Help someone else. 

Often, feeling out of control or lacking in direction happens when you get too caught up in your own head. You start trying to figure things out without reference to the outside world. Maybe you’re too preoccupied with what you want and how you can be happy. One way to short-circuit this kind of thinking is to do something for someone else, even something small. At the very least, this forces you to think about other people’s needs and how you might meet them. If you belong to a 12-step group, consider volunteering. Otherwise, there are plenty of people in your life who would appreciate your help.

Feeling like you’re out of control can be scary and disorienting. If substance use is contributing to that feeling, it may be time to ask for help. Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a unique program that helps men create happier, more fulfilling lives free from addiction. Call us today at 855-202-2138 to learn more. 

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