Spiraling Out Of Control: How To Stay Calm When Dealing With Anxiety

Updated July 22, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Sometimes it seems like you’ve lost control of your life when things get overwhelming. Whether you’ve learned of a new medical diagnosis, things abruptly change in your family, or something just isn’t working out in your favor, you quickly begin to feel helpless. It doesn’t help when emotions run high, and it’s hard to focus on what your next steps should be. Such frustrations bring on anxieties that are hard to let go, but fortunately, there are things you can do to help regain control.  The key is to recognize when anxious thoughts are trying to take over the situation and then focus on productive thoughts and actions to help you get through the moment.

Recognize You Have Control

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When you feel like life is spiraling, it may contact as if you have no control, especially when things happen with or without your influence. Sometimes you’ll go through things you don’t want to go through because it brings unwanted feelings. Other times you feel like you can’t get a break. It seems impossible to see the other side. While there may be times things will happen out of your control, it is crucial to recognize that this is okay, and the feeling of not being in control is familiar.

It can be difficult to accept something you don’t have control over or something you’re not able to change. Such thoughts fuel anxieties and make feelings challenging to deal with daily. Whether you have an anxiety disorder or recognize when you’re feeling anxious, it is crucial to remember you have control and the ability to make things happen. You can learn how to control your emotions so they don’t overwhelm you. Once you understand ways to manage your anxiety, it gives situations that occur in your life more meaning.

Collect Your Thoughts And Feelings

The moment you feel things are in a downward spiral, take a step back and breathe. The overwhelming feeling you’re experiencing is part of your body’s fight and flight response. It is what contributes to the physical aspects of anxiety. As you stop to reflect on the moment, take a deep breath, and relax. Learning breathing techniques may help reduce the effects of anxiety quickly. Because feeling anxious is normal, it is okay to let yourself feel this way and admit to it. As you recognize it, it decreases in intensity.

Challenge what you are feeling by asking questions to readjust your thinking. You may wonder if your thoughts are rational, or could things get worse. Assess your ideas to see how you can handle the situation. When you feel like your emotions are ready to spiral out of control, use production methods to release them, such as going for a walk to calm yourself. Avoid doing anything that may lead to harm of property or others, like punching a wall. Such actions may fuel your emotions instead of helping you feel better.

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Use breathing techniques to help visualize yourself in a state of calmness. Keep the image you create in your mind and refer to it when you feel anxious. Then, think the situation through. Use this time to assess circumstances so you can shift your focus critically. Emotional anxiety makes it difficult to think rational thoughts, so use your thoughts to create an opportunity to establish a favorable outcome.

Other things you can do when confronting anxiety include listening to music, changing your focus to make better decisions, relaxing your body by laying down and resting, and journaling by writing down and recording what triggers such feelings. Some consider a holistic approach, such as acupuncture, that provides relief through pressure points throughout your body.

Understanding your thoughts and feelings is an excellent place to start when it seems like life is spiraling in the wrong direction. It may require spending more time learning about yourself and where you want to be.

Life Assessment: Are You Where You Want To Be In Life?

Sometimes anxiety is influenced by being in a position you don’t want to be in your life. Maybe you’re struggling to accept something you wish you could go back and change. Perhaps you’ve been contemplating the next move to make, such as going back to school or changing your career. Maybe you’ve reached a point in your life where you recognize change, but you’re having a problem accepting it.

Anxieties may be keeping you from taking necessary action. Sometimes anxiety symptoms make it challenging to make decisions and resolve problems. Maybe you have problems coping with anxiety, or you don’t realize anxiety has more control over your actions. Whatever issues you’re experiencing, there are ways to resolve them. It may take working with someone such as a therapist or counselor to help understand your abilities and how to apply them in your situation.

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You have to be willing to take action to regain control. It may include doing things differently, such as learning healthy habits, changing your social circle, and working with your doctor or healthcare professional regularly. Focus on what you can do to remedy a situation. Focus on how to use your power to make changes you want to see in your life.

Live Life At Your Own Pace

When you feel like life is spiraling out of your hands, avoid comparing it to others. Focus on living your life the best way you can one day at a time. Our talents and capabilities make each of us unique. Sometimes people don’t spend enough time recognizing what makes them unique. It is okay to be different, and it may take time to accept that. Avoid rushing to get things done too quickly or thinking you need to accomplish something by a certain period in life. If it is meant to happen, it will happen in due time. If you let your emotions spiral out of control, it gets challenging to view things from a realistic perspective.

Use Therapy To Explore More Options

When you feel like life is spiraling, have you thought about working with a therapist or talking about your problems? It is hard to move forward when you feel like you’re not in control, but there are ways to tackle these feelings to help gain a clearer picture of your situation. Understanding how your thoughts and feelings influence your anxiety is significant. The best way to understand this is by talking things through with a counselor or therapist. If you’ve been uncomfortable with the idea of sharing your thoughts, now is a good time to revisit the concept with someone that cares.

Therapists are experienced, trained professionals that work with people seeking solutions to problems in their life. Therapy is a common choice people turn too when they feel like things are spiraling out of control and want guidance on how to handle circumstances. As skilled mental health professionals, they work closely with you through therapy sessions designs to break down your thoughts and feelings to help you understand how to cope. As you learn how to control anxieties, you gain an advantage that can improve the quality of your life. Sometimes people hold on to negative stereotypes about working with a therapist, but you could miss out on valuable tools to help you move forward when experiencing a downward spiral.

There are different types of talk therapy that provide comprehensive support for anxiety. Counseling helps create strategies for coping with stress. Psychotherapy help regulate emotions and manage your stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on thought patterns contributing to behavior and mood. Each option presents an opportunity to develop a personal strategy to help you understand your emotions and feelings and how to respond to life situations constructively.

There are times in life you’ll feel stressed out and overwhelmed, but you don’t have to work through it alone. Working with a therapist has advantages you’ll benefit from in the long term. Online therapy sessions provide convenient support when you need it most or if you’re not ready for in-person meetings. You may benefit from group support sessions by talking with peers who can relate. Whichever way you choose to work through your anxieties with therapy, you’ll gain resources such as coping strategies to remind you of the power you possess to feel good about your life again.

Don’t Give Up!

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When it seems like life is spiraling beyond your control, take a moment to stop, think, and reflect. Sometimes you need to step away from the situation to breathe so you can think clearly. Recognize what emotions you are feeling and why. Are the goals you want realistic and attainable? Is something happening you need to give yourself time to accept? When you take a moment to think and focus on what is happening, you may realize things are not as bad as you thought. You may see a way out of the situation you didn’t know was possible. Use the control you do have to navigate through trying moments, even if that includes reaching out for help.


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