When You Just. Can't.

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Have you found yourself saying the words I. Just. Can't.? Maybe you uttered them after an incredibly grueling day at work or a stressful day at home, trying to study for finals, wrangle rambunctious kids, or attempting to juggle both work and home life. Or maybe all it took was trying to unscrew a stubborn lid on your peanut butter jar.

I've been there.

Sometimes the peanut butter jar lid is the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back.

I don't need to tell you guys how stressful life can be; you and I already know that first-hand. Sometimes it's the big things that are too overwhelming, but sometimes it's the little things that get under our skin and make us snap.

I don't want to admit how many times I get overwhelmed by not being able to find the right key to open my door or dropping one of seven things I often find myself trying to juggle. It's as if I think I have it all together, and then little things sneak in to remind me that I don't.

So how do we handle it? What do we do when we just can't? How do we cope with all the crazy?

We take a step back and breathe. We gain some perspective.

If we give ourselves just a moment or two to see the bigger picture and reframe our thinking about whatever situation we're in, we'll be well on our way to living a less stressful life.

Of course, things will still come up. But we will be better equipped to handle them when we've learned to look for perspective and breathe before reacting without any thought as to what our reaction will be.

If we remind ourselves that we're not in control, we won't feel so burdened to keep it together all the time. Life isn't perfect-- for any one of us. It's okay to make mistakes. It's normal to get overwhelmed from time to time. Heck, I get overwhelmed trying to carry in my groceries.

Sometimes it helps to think about what you can do. If you hit a wall in one area, you can redirect your focus and work on something else for a while. When I've run out of patience sitting on hold while trying to make phone calls at work, I take a break to work on some other task so I can still accomplish something and regroup from the stress before tackling the rest of my calls.

Do you know how good it feels to get something done when you're stressed about all the things you're not getting done?! It's like letting out a deep breath you didn't realize you were holding in. It sets the ball rolling for the other things on your to-do list, proving (even if only to yourself) that you are indeed capable of accomplishing hard things (even if you start with the easiest of them first).

We'd be more relaxed and able to face the things in front of us, whether those things are large or small, if only we learned to take a step back and breathe. We would be able to choose our reactions more carefully instead of responding out of fear, stress, and frustration.

And if we could do that, I think we'd be calmer, happier people. I know I feel more capable when I gain some perspective, remind myself that I can do things, relieve some stress, take a break, and then get back to work-- whether that work is unscrewing the lid on the peanut butter jar or buckling down for some challenging tech work for the blog or my book.

When you just can't, I want to remind you that you can. Not in a way that denies the difficulty of the task at hand, but in a way that says you have more courage and strength than you're aware of, you've conquered hard things before, and you can overcome this, too.


What tips and tricks do you have for facing hard things? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!