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McMaster Children’s Hospital expert shares coping strategies for youth who are feeling overwhelmed, such as writing in a journal.
January 26, 2022

Feeling overwhelmed? Try this.

January 26 is Bell Let’s Talk day. Dr. Jennifer McTaggart, clinical director of acute services and psychologist in McMaster Children’s Hospital’s Child & Youth Mental Health Program, shares tips for youth when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Hi, I’m Jen and I’m going to show you a few things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

1. Notice

The first step is just to notice that you’re overwhelmed. So often we’re preoccupied and don’t even realize we’re struggling.

2. Breathe

The next step is to calm the body and the best way to calm the body is with the breath. The breath is your very own superpower and the goal is to breathe out longer than you’re breathing in. So breathe in through your nose for four seconds and out through your mouth for eight seconds and do that cycle for a few minutes.

3. Ground yourself

Another way to calm the body is by grounding yourself to the present moment by noticing things you see around you, things you hear, and things that you feel inside your body like your feet on the floor.

4. Do something else

Now that your body is calm your brain is finally ready to do what it needs to do, whether that be calling a friend, writing in your journal, going for a walk, or problem solving the situation — whatever needs to be done now that you have a calm body in mind.

5. Be kind

And lastly, be kind to yourself rather than mean or critical. Life is hard and you are doing your best.