feeling unsettled

5 Things to Do When You Are Feeling Unsettled

On August 29, 2012, Dale Earnhardt Jr. did a practice run at Kansas Speedway. He had the fastest car on the track that day, made even faster by the track’s new asphalt. On his last lap, he hit his highest speed: 205 mph. Just as he headed into his first turn, he took his foot off the gas when all of a sudden, his right front tire exploded. He lost control of the car and rocketed toward the wall at 190 mph. He hit the wall with the force of a 40G impact, which was so loud another racer said it sounded like an airplane crash. Afterward, Dale Jr. assumed he’d be a little sore, but other than that, he thought he’d be fine. However, as time went on, he knew something wasn’t right, as if he were in a fog.

It turns out Dale Jr. suffered a concussion, one of many he has had in his career. But this one was different and worse than before. He hoped it would just go away, but it never did. There are times in our lives that feel similar—something just doesn’t seem right. When we’re feeling unsettled, sometimes we ignore it, hoping it will go away. Maybe you’re a little down and you don’t know why. Perhaps you’re anxious. Maybe life seems fine, but you have a nagging discontent. Then there are some of us who just feel flat out lost or stuck. If that’s you, here are 5 things to do.

1. Find the cause.

Take some time to figure out what is going on and why you are feeling unsettled. Go for walks, get quiet, and reflect. Ask questions and don’t be afraid of the answers and the feeling of vulnerability that may come with it. You need to face the truth, no matter what that means. Until you do, your feelings will only get louder and more debilitating. However, uncovering the problem is the first step toward freedom and relief.

2. Seek help.

It’s not weak to ask people to give support, share your burdens, and give you advice when you have a problem. It’s wise and what a strong leader does. We all have blinders and need additional sets of eyes to help us see the full picture. Don’t keep loved ones in the dark when you’re struggling. They can handle it and most likely already know something is wrong. One piece of advice I highly recommend is seeking out professional help from a counselor. Therapists are trained and experienced in uncovering trouble spots and finding solutions.

3. Exercise.

Get physically active. Naturally, you will have pent-up anxiety and tension, which we are not designed to live with on a daily basis over an extended period. Exercising will help you blow off steam and give your body energy each day. It also will give you a positive mental boost as you accomplish physical goals, however small. So regularly go for a run or take a walk if you are feeling unsettled. Do push-ups or sit-ups at the beginning of each day. Set goals and make sure you meet them. It’s important to stay physically and mentally in shape during times of difficulty and survival.

4. Pray.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, praying is a good exercise. First, it calls on God for help in your situation. If you believe in God, this makes complete sense. After all, it logically follows that the One who created life would know more about how to live it than you do. So it’s good to ask for His wisdom and intervention. However, even if you do not believe in God, I would ask: What does it hurt? The worst possible outcome is you are focusing your heart and mind on the issue as you pray. At best, you interact with the creator of the universe, He hears you and answers your prayer. There’s nothing to lose.

5. Change your routine.

When you feel unsettled, something needs to change. Most likely you have slipped into some bad habits. Change things up. Make a list of some new good habits you would like to start. Create a habit tracker to hold yourself accountable. See what kind of difference it makes after a month. Slipping into poor routines causes a malaise that can be difficult to break out of. The only way to do it is by replacing those bad disciplines one by one. Just stick with it. As long as you are proactive, this difficult season will end.

Sound off: What do you do when things just don’t seem right or you feel unsettled?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt overwhelmed? What did you do?”