Here we are still. COVID is still a thing, social unrest hasn’t gone away, school is back in session, summer is over, and there seems to be no end in sight. Across client engagements, in personal relationships, and even checking out at the grocery store, it feels like that weight is still upon us all. It feels like we are hitting the wall(s).

Psychologically, hitting the wall feels a lot like a wet blanket on the soul, or like running in mud. Sometimes it feels like you just can’t will your brain to work right even though you know what you have to do.

Everyone experiences this. Being around the same people, in the same place, with what feels like a no win situation for a long time can lead to feelings of helplessness. 

Photo Credit    Jonathan Rados    via Unsplash
Photo Credit Jonathan Rados via Unsplash

What happens next is personality driven. Some get depressed and shut down, others get anxious and cry. Some people emotionally withdraw and seethe with anger. There are so many ways we express this as people, but when we hit the wall, we have to take action.

A few thoughts for when you hit the wall:

  • Stop: Before you say anything, don’t. Frankly, try your hardest to just be nice; if you can’t do that, then walk away. 
  • Breathe: Take a few minutes with some intentional belly breathing. Take it all in, filling the bottom of your lungs first, then exhale. The ability to activate your parasympathetic nervous system will begin to engage your sympathetic and let your body know that you neither need to fight, nor flee.
  • Refocus: What are you mentally fixating on in the moment and how is it helping bring you down from your frustration? If it’s not, you need to refocus on something else. 
  • Reassure: You’re not the only one who’s stressed out. Everyone is cooped up. Everyone has lost their sense of normalcy. Reassuring others that you are feeling upset while reassuring them of your care for them makes a difference.
  • Get Some Space: Go outside, go into another room, get some distance. If you tend to withdraw when things get tense, perhaps let your partner or your children know that you are upset and you need a moment, but will return and resume the relationship.
  • Physical Activity: Get some bilateral stimulation to help your brain to process what you’re thinking and your body to regulate what you’re feeling. Are you getting stronger right now or are you getting weaker? Choose stronger
  • Acupressure: if you’re really fired up, take a few minutes to activate some acupressure releases. You can learn a bit about some of the techniques at the University of Colorado supported Individualized Training and Education in Acupressure site via our friends at The Marcus Institute for Brain Health.

Here are a few activities you can use to channel your frustration: prayer, journaling, yoga, art, walking, singing, reading, meditation, the list goes on. Find what works best for you and do it consistently. Also, use the technique as a preventative measure to keep you from loosing your cool. 

Photo Credit    Nathan Dumleo    via Unsplash
Photo Credit Nathan Dumleo via Unsplash

You’re not crazy, and you’re not a terrible person. You’re a human being experiencing a difficult situation. Everyone hits the wall from time to time, especially when nothing is the way it should be. If you have already blown through your opportunity to just be nice when you’ve hit the wall, and you are in the process of recovering, here’s a word of advice: apologize and ask for forgiveness. 

Keep short accounts with your loved ones or fellow quarantiners (as a general rule) and especially in this time because they’ll still be there with you tomorrow. 

Finally, settle in, this is not going to change anytime soon. You have to wrap your head around this reality. The reason marathoners call it hitting the wall is because they experience this phenomenon every marathon. It feels like you can’t take another step, or another moment. But you can. And that’s the reason marathoners have stacks of medals hanging on their walls. 

You can take far more than you think. Remember that the next time you hit the wall. 

This article originally appeared on Applied Leadership Partners.


  • Brandon Young

    Co-Founder, Principal

    Applied Leadership Partners

    Brandon is a former US Army Ranger, Co-Founder and Principal at Applied Leadership Partners. He has spent over 20 years building and leading teams to achieve mission and business objectives in complex environments. Across the military, corporate and non-profit sectors, Brandon inspires, unites, and coaches teams through growth, change, and adversity. He's been published in various peer reviewed academic journals for his work as a co-developer of the Enriched Life Scale, focusing on mental and physical health, sense of purpose, genuine relationships, and engaged citizenship for reintegrating veterans. His passion is faith, family, community, people, and the mountains!