Let’s be honest, nobody really likes to feel out of control and it’s really very easy to have those feelings in this world right now.

I hate the word control freak, it’s a really unpleasant expression it’s derogatory and implies that somebody who likes being in control is unusual, freakish and that is just not the case. Most people I know, most people I work with, like to feel in control of their lives. I’m not talking about the time when we’ve had too much to drink and we’ve needed to let our hair down or where we’ve tried things where we’ve lessened our control – that can feel exciting it can feel invigorating it can feel scary, I’m talking about on a day-to-day basis feeling in control of our own lives.

What does out of control look like for you? It can mean so much can’t it? There are those big out-of-control moments where something happens within your life that you have no influence over that you have no control over and it can make us feel almost sick with anxiety. Then there are little moments where we lose control or feel we have little control and these things can be something as simple as the house is untidy, it’s feeling chaotic, there is mess everywhere and we feel like we’re losing control and it can make us feel very anxious.

There are those that in order to feel in control resort to more scary & potentially life threating areas of control such as eating disorders or self-harming, doing something that makes them feel like they have taken the control back. This is obviously a very emotive and specialist subject and not something I’m going to dive into right here right now but important to recognise them.

So, if you’re feeling out of control, if things are feeling overwhelming and too big for you right now what can you do to take some control back? How can you make yourself feel better? Do you find yourself being labelled as a control freak by others? What is it that you’re doing, what behaviours are you displaying that invites people to make these comments – I suspect these comments are uninvited?

I’ve noticed when I’m feeling out of control I revert to methods that I have used all my life to regain some control, some of them healthy some not so healthy. Firstly for me tidy house equals tidy mind has always been the case –  if I’m feeling out of control the best thing for me to do is whack on some music get the windows open and spring clean, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is if my house feels clean and tidy I feel back in control. The chaos is less.

Having had an eating disorder during my teenage years another of the areas where I find myself looking for control is my clothes, as I said not necessarily a healthy option but it’s if life is feeling a little overwhelming I will go through my wardrobe make sure everything is clean, ironed and mended and if there are clothes that are making me feel anxious, I vacuum pack them up and put them away and for some reason this makes me feel less chaotic and more in control.

I have clients who have worked on their own methods are feeling back in control, you might recognise some of these methods or find them useful for you?

  1. Meal planning so you don’t have that inevitable “what shall we have for tea: feeling each night.
  2. I have the clients who schedule out their week via a timetable because they have so much going on with all the various family members the only way they can stay sane is to write it all down and look at it visually.
  3. Simple actions like having a morning routine where you organise yourself to give yourself time to have a cuppa, to breathe, to do simple stretching, allowing yourself to think of the day ahead calmly (this does take some organising and some practice.)
  4. The 15- minute whizz around – get everyone involved, set a time each day or once a week, whatever suits your needs where you whizz around the house putting things away. Make it fun with family – set a timer, offer prizes for best effort (obviously not on a daily basis.)
  5. Block out regular “organisational time.” This is time when you don’t arrange any other activities, when you just concentrate on catching up on tasks – again, involve the family if that helps. Maybe once a month or every 6 weeks, again you have to plan in advance but well worth it.

You are not being a control freak you are not being a Sergeant Major, it’s finding out what works for you to help you feel back in control. Maybe we should be talking about feeling less out of control? Whatever it takes whatever you need to do it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does, believe me when I say this, many people suffer from huge anxiety and overwhelm and if you have found something that lessens that for you in your life you are doing a great job!

So take a step back have a think where are the areas in your life that feel chaotic? What do you need to do to change that? What small changes can you make to make you feel less anxious and less overwhelmed?

Repeat after me – I am not a control freak I am just in control of my life!