Whether we like it or not, there are certain things in life that are out of our control and make us feel like we’re going crazy—whether it’s at school, work, or home, there’s no way around it. The anxiety, the sleepless nights, and depression all come with the territory and unfortunately, are unavoidable. But the most that you can do is learn a few ways to let go of things that are out of your control so that the memory of that stress doesn't come back to haunt you.
Learn to live in the present
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you focus on the previous one. If you try to control every little aspect of what’s around you, it is out of fear of the future. Doing this makes it difficult to live and enjoy life to the fullest, but it can be overcome by focusing on what’s most important in your life. Delegating whatever tasks you can wherever possible and doing the rest yourself is a good place to start. For example, if you have roommates and need to tackle a list of chores for the day, one person can be in charge of cleaning the kitchen, another can do the bathrooms, while you tackle the living room and your own bedroom.
Try to be flexible
Learning to have less control over things starts with learning to be flexible. "A hallmark of mental health is the ability to be flexible — in behaviors and responses, and in relationship to feelings and thoughts. When you need to have control, you forgo flexibility and place a lower than necessary ceiling on your capacity for engaging in and enjoying life," says Sandra Sanger, PhD for PsychCentral. To achieve more flexibility, you can start out small by trying food from a new restaurant or seeing a new movie. As far as activities with others, you can try leaving part of your schedule open. That way when a friend calls you up and wants to wing it with a lunch date, you’ll be able to accept the spontaneity instead of stressing about your schedule. The more flexible you allow yourself to be, the more you can prepare for unexpected situations that may need it. Even if it's just making a mistake, we’re all human and entitled to make them. Being more flexible with yourself allows you to more easily learn from your mistakes, and be less afraid of making them.
Consider what you do have control over
When things seem to be turning out for the worst, take a moment to examine what you do have control over. While you can’t control an oncoming heat wave, you have more than enough control over how to prepare for it. You can stock up on clean water, making sure that your AC or fans are working, wear clothes that are equipped for the hot weather, or stay in the shade to keep cool. All of these things are doable in preparing for an oncoming heat wave, even if the possibility of controlling it is out of the question.
Come up with ways to manage your stress
You can keep yourself busy and better manage your stress by first getting rid of any unhealthy coping skills that you’re accustomed to and replacing them with better ones. Some healthy ways to cope with stress include exercising, eating healthier, taking up new hobbies, or just taking a day off to be with friends. Also, be sure to stay on top of your stress level in order to go about your day with more efficiency. The best way to do it is to self evaluate over things that you may have done today or in the weeks before. For example, if you’re the type of person that feels overwhelmed by a ton of assignments from school or work, then try taking an hour long break before getting back to it. Do something fun like inviting a friend over for a pizza, or relaxing by going for a walk in the park. Or better yet, starting a journal to document these self evaluations. Whether it’s a bad day at work, or even something good like adopting a new pet, taking advantage of that hour long break is a great place to start.
Come up with healthy affirmations
While the saying “you are your own worst enemy" holds a lot of truth, you can defeat this enemy by creating positive affirmations that you can abide by to either take action or keep yourself calm. Phrases like “make it happen" can go a long way in helping you control what you can in your life. For example, if you're put in charge of organizing an event for work, a huge responsibility that can seem more like a life or death situation. Just keep telling yourself to make it happen, do what you can where you can, and things will work out for the best.
While it would be ideal to control everything in our lives right down to the T, it's just not possible or healthy. But no matter how scary and impossible it may seem, you have the strength to let go of the things that are out of your control for the better. Not only that, but the relaxation and balance that you’ll feel will be incredible. It’ll help improve your mental health, which should always be your top priority. Accepting that you can’t control everything around you is the first step down the road to a more flexible life.