So many of us feel stuck, helpless, and completely overwhelmed right now. The past few months of pandemic hysteria, social injustice, and political yuck weighs heavy on our hearts. Not to mention that many of us are dealing with our own personal battles on top of everything else.
So how do we regain a sense of control when everything feels out of control?
Merriam-Webster defines agency as: “the capacity, condition, or state of acting or exerting power.” Trauma, stressful times (hello, pandemic!), and other circumstances can make us feel helpless, stripped of power, and like life is just happening TO us.
When you develop a greater sense of agency in your life, you feel empowered and hopeful. You know that even though everything isn’t under your control, there is a lot you CAN do to influence the outcome of your days, months, years, and ultimately, your entire life.
Here are four things you can start doing this very week to increase the agency you feel:
- Claim your mornings (before they claim you!)
If you start off your mornings with purpose and intentionality, you’re bound to feel more in control of how the day unfolds. (And who fares well waking up feeling rushed and at the mercy of everyone and everything around us?! Nobody! Hustle and chaos are not the way to begin your days.)
Ideally, set your alarm for at least 30 minutes before the rest of your house awakens or you have pressing tasks to attend to. Then spend the time doing things that nourish your mind and body. Maybe you’re into prayer, meditation, journaling, or yoga. Or perhaps a good workout is just what you need. Whatever you do, plan your morning activities the night before so you’re ready to dive in once your alarm goes off. Try the same routine for a week and see how it impacts your days. Who knows, maybe it’ll even turn into a morning routine that you stick to for the long haul?
- Feed your brain the good stuff.
Mindless scrolling on social and getting sucked into current event drama isn’t good for anyone. If you’re finding yourself getting sucked down the social media and/or news rabbit hole too much, it’s time to replace this habit with something that will actually serve you well.
My advice? The next time you feel that pull to your phone, make yourself tune into an interesting or uplifting podcast instead (The Moth and @mikefoster2000’s Fun Therapy, and @anniefdown’s That Sounds Fun are three of my favorites). Or dive into a good book that you’ve been wanting to read.
- Tidy up your surroundings.
I once listened to speaker and writer Patsy Clairmont share about her devastating battle with anxiety; one that literally left her a prisoner in her own home for some time. One of the simplest and most powerful ways she started to pull out of the funk might sound silly: she started making her bed. Every day. This simple act was a declaration of power (and also made it less likely she’d crawl back in.)
There’s definitely something to be said about creating order in your surroundings to increase your sense of agency. So the next time you’re starting to feel helplessness or overwhelm in, try decluttering the room you’re in (and definitely make that bed of yours!). You might be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards.
- Be a little rebellious.
Yep, it’s to get acquainted with that rebel inside of you and let him or her out to play a bit. Doing something that you’re a little scared of, getting out of your comfort zone, and trying something new can be a powerful way to exert control and boost your confidence. Plus, it’s almost guaranteed to be fun! So, maybe you’ve never ice-skated before. Or you’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle. Or the thought of eating at a restaurant alone terrifies you. Whatever it is, get it on your calendar and follow through. If you’re intimidated, enlist a friend to try the new activity with you or to hold you accountable. Go after it, rebel!
You’re not helpless, friend. You have more power than you can even imagine. So make this the day that you take back the reins. You got this!