How to feel in control amid chaos

Kelli Copelin is an Advanced Recovery Support Worker with a lived experience of mental health challenges.

It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of worry when our ‘what if’ thoughts get out of control, especially during times like these.

This thinking can make us feel disempowered and disappointed.

If you’re prone to anxious thinking, here are my top three happiness hacks to feel back in control:

  1. Write it down: writing can be a powerful tool when faced with worry. In fact, the simple act of taking pen to paper can help us clarify the situation. One way to do this is to develop a two-column list of what is in your control vs what isn’t. This visual can help put things in perspective.
  2. Focus your energy on the ‘what you can control’ list: empower yourself to shift your focus to some practical ways to improve things within your control and letting go of what you can’t. For example, if you have identified that setting a healthier routine is in your control, why not develop a feasible meal and workout plan to trial over the next week, starting today? Small steps in the right direction can help you feel back in control of the situation.
  3. Be kind to yourself: letting go of worrying thoughts can be easier said than done, but there are ways to be kind to yourself and find calm. Try a breathing exercise, a catch-up with a friend to boost your mood or some endorphin-pumping activity. Knowing what works for you and implementing this when feeling out of control is important.

Identifying what you can’t control won’t stop hypothetical worrying or unhelpful thoughts, but it can help you identify your anxious thoughts, manage your response to them and find a balance that works for you.