Suggestions for Dealing with Overwhelming Emotions

Acknowledge the feeling: What is it that you feel? Why now? Where do you feel it in your body?

Express the feeling: Become consciously aware of what you are feeling and then let the energy out by doing something. Let out anger by hitting a pillow, screaming, going for a run, throwing a ball against a wall. Let out sadness by crying, listening to sad songs, writing down what pains you. Manage anxiety by challenging what you fear, taking slow deep breaths and telling yourself you are going to be okay. Emotions are energy and you need to do something to release that energy.

Avoid “shoulda/woulda/coulda” thinking: Instead, accept that you did the best that you could, given your knowledge, resources and skills at the time.

Reframe negative or discouraging thoughts to help manage feelings of anxiety: A loss can shake your confidence. When faced with present challenges, remember past successes when faced with present challenges to help boost your confidence in yourself. Focus on the things that you do have control over, like your perception and attitude, and let go of the things that you cannot control, as this just fuels feelings of helplessness and anxiety. 

Engage in activities that are aimed at calming and soothing you: Consider yoga or meditation, practice deep breathing, take a hot bath or a long walk.

Talk about it: Identify who the good listeners are in your life and talk to them about what you are feeling. Sometimes just talking about it is enough to release the emotion’s energy and it can help you gain new perspective and awareness.

If you are not comfortable talking to someone, write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal, as this will also help to release the energy.

Like a wave, emotions can arise quickly and completely overtake us. Remember to keep breathing, long and slow breaths, and the intensity of the emotion will lessen over time.