In life, there are many things out of your control. Some things are easy to deal with, like a flat tire or your child forgetting their lunch. But there are those out-of-control situations in life that loom so large they overwhelm you. These situations may last for months or even years, such as losing a job or an unexpected pandemic. How do you cope with the stress of these out-of-control situations?
Eleven Ways to Deal With Problems That Are Out of Your Control
Here are some suggestions that, although they won’t change your circumstances, can help you deal in a positive way with your out-of-control problems.
1 – You are not powerless to bounce back when things feel out of your control
Although you can’t change your circumstances, you have choices you can make amid the circumstance, such as the choice to do the following things:
- Taking the next step
- Influencing people for good
- Getting help from others
- Releasing bitterness and anger
- Learning new things from others
- The option to focus on the here and now
2 – Journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal gives you a positive outlet for your emotions. When you’re in a stressful situation, you may be tempted to run to others for help. Although this isn’t a bad thing, talking with others may not be the first thing you should do. It’s essential that you understand what you’re feeling, and writing down your thoughts can help you sort out your feelings. If something happened at work, you might need to write down what happened to understand the situation. Writing gives you clarity on details and helps you decide your next move.
Another benefit of journaling is that it reduces your stress level. Studies found that journaling has a positive effect on your emotional well-being because it reduces anxiety.
3 – Pray
Prayer is an active response to those things out of your control. Most people would say that prayer is talking to God. There are many historical examples of people praying for strength, guidance, or help in times of great need. For example, Abraham Lincoln prayed for the end of the Civil War, and John F. Kennedy prayed for that God would,
…guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.
Prayer is a powerful tool to get help outside yourself when you’re in the midst of difficulty.
4 – Change your focus
It’s easy to let the out of your control situation take your focus off everything else in your life. Perhaps you have a problem at school that is stealing all your time, energy, and joy. That one situation looms more prominent in your heart and mind. Even though the situation is out of your control, you can choose to stop focusing on it 24/7. Try to focus on what’s going on right now in your life instead of problems. Sometimes when you free your mind of the problem, a solution will present itself.
5 – Be present
There may be things in your past you may not be able to change. Perhaps you had an abusive childhood, or you lost your parents at a young age. These are hurtful, life-altering situations that can have an impact on your life—being more aware of the present rather than your past helps you deal with your anxieties. If you constantly refer to your past as a reference for today, it allows those old situations to control you. Try to make choices based on the present rather than on your past. This will help you feel calmer and more at peace with your life and your future. It will also keep your focus on what’s in front of you rather than what’s behind you.
6 – Figure out your fear
Fear is a bully. It always tells you the worst-case scenario. When you’re dealing with problems that are out of your control, fear will be right there telling you how bad things are going to get. It’s important to step back and address your fears. Ask yourself these questions to better understand your fears in this situation.
- What is my biggest fear when it comes to my job? My family? My life?
- What do I fear regarding my health?
- Am I worried about losing my money?
- Am I worried about being alone?
- Do I worry about what people will say or think about me? Why?
Acknowledging your fears won’t change your circumstances, but it will give you a better perspective on the reality of the situation. It will also take away the power that fear has over you.
When you’re dealing with an out-of-control situation, it’s essential to stay healthy. It may be tempting to grab fast food instead of cooking dinner, but the fact is, when you’re under stress, a healthy lifestyle can help you with your anxiety. Getting exercise, choosing nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep all affect your ability to deal with problems.
Eating specific foods when you’re dealing with issues can help you fight anxiety and stress. Try to incorporate these into your meals and snacks during the day. Foods that help reduce stress include the following:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolate
- Spices such as ginger or cayenne pepper, or turmeric
- Sweet potatoes
- Chamomile tea
- Lemon balm tea
- Green teas
Besides eating these foods, try to take a daily walk to get your blood flowing. This helps not only your body but also your mind. Try to get adequate sleep every night. If you can’t sleep, try a natural remedy before bed like melatonin or a calcium and magnesium supplement.
8 – Talk to someone
Having a trusted friend or counselor to talk with is a helpful way to manage the stress and strain of your problems. When you speak with others about your issues, it removes their weightiness from your heart and mind. As you step out and get help from others, the issues have less control over you. Even though talking with a friend or counselor won’t change your circumstances, their support will help you cope better.
9 – Laugh when things feel out of your control
Your situation may be no laughing matter, but at some point, it can be helpful to laugh at the ridiculousness of your situation. Making light of a difficult situation can help you maintain perspective on the problem. It keeps the situation from becoming too overwhelming for your heart and mind. An ancient proverb says,
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17.22)
The stress of an uncontrollable situation impacts your body. It’s easy to internalize and stress over problems, but try to find a bit of humor when you can.
10 – Relaxation
Find ways to relax your body and mind to cope with the stress of what you’re going through. This could be taking a yoga class or going for a daily walk. Play classical music during the day, or listen to an uplifting podcast. These are positive, active ways to reduce the stress of uncontrollable situations.
11 – Acceptance
Although you don’t like the out-of-control situation you are in, at some point, acceptance may be the best way to cope. This isn’t “giving up,” but rather, learning to recognize this is your new usual way of life. This changes your perspective and allows you to:
- Worry less
- Feel less drained emotionally
- Make positive changes where you can
- Feel grateful for where you are
- Have compassion for others in similar situations
Everyone experiences some out-of-control problem in life. Some of these situations need a simple fix, but other problems last for months or even years. These can be heart-wrenchingly difficult. There are many things you can do to cope, but hopefully, these suggestions will bring you the ability to deal with these problems and reduce your stress.