5 Things You Can Control When You Feel Totally Helpless

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

As parents, we’re used to being in charge and having the power to make our kids feel better.

However, there are circumstances that are beyond our control. Whether that’s helping our kids cope with the new rules of a global pandemic or supporting them through cancer treatments.

We can’t always fix the problems that arise in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. And realizing that can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. But it’s important to keep in mind that there are always things you can control and that bringing more of your focus to those things can help you feel better.

1. Your Inner Peace

Ok, this might sound a bit new agey but it’s true. Letting your body remain in a highly stressed state just exacerbates the problem in your mind. When you realize you’re feeling upset, try to calm your body first by taking some deep breaths.

It doesn’t have to be any special kind of breathing or fancy meditation. Just close your eyes, breathe deeply and think of a place you love. Getting your body to calm down can help clear your head so you can think and process more clearly.

2. Your Outer Peace

Taking control of your surroundings can help bring you some much-needed calm and control. It’s normal to let things around the house go when you’re stressed. But seeing messes everywhere will just add to your stress.

Turn up your favorite music and spend an hour or two making your environment a more peaceful place. You don’t have to deep clean (unless you want to), but just do some basic things like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. It’s not that exciting, but you’ll feel like you accomplished something afterwards and your home won’t be an added source of stress.

3. Your Health

When life around you feels out of control, it’s tempting to just throw your hands up and say, “What’s the point?” Resist that urge and focus on actions that you know for sure are good for you and make you feel good. That might mean cooking a healthy meal, prepping your meals for the week, exercising, going to therapy or spending some time on a hobby that brings you joy.

4. What You Do Next

You’re probably feeling helpless because of a big problem that you may not be able to solve all on your own. But there are always things you can do to improve a situation. Take some time to sit down and make a plan. List out all the small things you can do to minimize the problem or alleviate your or others’ feelings of stress.

For example, if you felt helpless at the start of pandemic lockdown, it would have b

een a good idea to make a list of ways to be extra careful about hygiene, safe ways to connect with friends or things you could do at home to keep you busy.

5. How You Process It

If you bottle up your feelings of helplessness, they may very well just end up erupting later on. Facing those feelings, working through them and finding ways to cope with them are what’s going to serve you well in the long run. For you, this may mean journaling, talking to a friend or seeing a therapist. There’s no one right way, so consider doing whatever you feel comfortable with.

Feeling like you can’t do anything to address a major problem in your life is incredibly difficult. But it’s just part of the human experience. Arming yourself with some coping techniques will serve you well now and in the future.