How to Show up When Everything Feels Hard

“It literally feels like January 74th.”

The meme I recently posted on my Instagram...

I don’t know if it was the moon, the political climate, the weather, or what, but January seemed to bring with it it’s own special emotional superstorm that lasted for what felt like a year, or 74 days.

Everyone around me, myself included, was dealing with confronting and questioning their dreams (hello new year, new goals), breakdowns in communication, and a lot of physical illness and feelings on confusion and overwhelm. All totally normal, but definitely uncomfortable when you feel stuck in it for an extended period of time. So even though we are past January (and almost February, hard to believe!), I still want to share some of my favorite ways to process and show up when we feel confronted by all the things.

Give yourself permission to not show up.

I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but as women we are so good at taking care of everyone and everything that we tend to put ourselves last. Give yourself permission to cancel and say "no" to plans and start saying "yes" to what you really need. Maybe it’s a lot more baths, intense workouts or extra sleep. Fight the temptation to label yourself as lazy or unproductive, because this is actually one of the most productive things you can do for yourself.


Share what’s going on with someone you love and trust.

Being vulnerable and asking for help is tough. We’ve been conditioned to see emotions as weakness, but our ability to feel deeply is actually a superpower. It’s learning how to feel and process and deal with them in a healthy way that often feels foreign. If you don’t know where to start, turn to your friend/partner/co-worker and just say “I’m feeling ____, and I’d really love for you to just listen so I feel less alone.” You can choose whether you want them to give advice or suggestions, but I find that just being heard is super healing.


Journal.

There is something very cathartic about writing, and it’s usually something we run from when we’re feeling emotional because there’s no telling what will come up. Setting a timer for just 5 minutes and scribbling down whatever you’re feeling/thinking can be life changing. Often times this is how we get out of our head and conscious mind and see what’s lurking in our subconscious and holding us back. Let your hand move faster than your brain and see what comes out. If you need a great journaling prompt try “what am I scared will happen if I ______(insert goal/action)”.


Move your body.

This absolutely doesn’t have to look a certain way. So if going to the gym makes you want to poke your eye out, don’t go. Find something that feels easy and doable. Turn on a song and dance, go for a walk, go jump on a trampoline. Physically moving the stuck energy and gunk in your body works SO quickly.


Get Grateful.

It sounds so simple, but using a simple gratitude practice can make a huge difference when we feel like nothing makes sense. Write down 3 things a day or start a text thread with a few friends where you each share daily. If you can’t think of anything big, just start with simple stuff like having a roof over your head or clean drinking water.

I also just want to remind you that it’s totally normal to bump up against our own stuff. Being able to look at it and sit with the uncomfortable feelings it a learned skill and is hugely rewarding, albeit unpleasant most times.

If you find yourself judging the stuckness and confusion, just remember that it’s part of the process. On the other side is generally a huge breakthrough and an opportunity to see new possibilities.

I also don’t want to downplay the realness of mental illness either. Depression and anxiety are real and sometimes it’s best to seek professional help.

I hope this helps with whatever you’re going through now or in the future.

I would love to hear any other tips you might have about how to get unstuck and process overwhelm. Leave them in the comments or shoot me an email if that feels better.

Julia Wells is a Women’s Empowerment Coach who helps leaders find their voices, lean into their fears, and become a greater force for good in the world. She is fiercely committed to sisterhood and creating communities where women feel safe, supported, and seen. Julia landed in the Bay Area when she ditched corporate to explore entrepreneurship. She feels most alive when singing obnoxiously in the car, chasing a sunset, or practicing Buti Yoga.