Easing Emotional Overwhelm

By - karengray
07.07.22 01:29 PM

There has been a lot to process lately, and if you are feeling overwhelmed you aren’t alone.

Emotional overwhelm is a lot like the experience of trying to multitask too many things at once. We become flooded with information and emotions to the point where it becomes difficult to function. It can affect your ability to think and function.

The causes of emotional overwhelm can vary from person to person, though it typically stems from a build up of stressors: problems in a relationship, world events, financial strain, career demands and responsibilities, sleep deprivation, trauma, and even physical contributors like illness and injury.

You may feel like your brain freezes up, or that simple tasks are more difficult than they need to be. You might experience a disproportionate reaction to situations, like panicking if you can’t find your keys. You might feel physically ill or fatigued without knowing why, or have trouble focusing on or completing simple tasks.

If you are feeling any of these things,

First, Breathe.

In the moment, all the emotions circling around the mind can cloud any capacity for rational thought. In this case, taking slow, deep breaths is a fast and effective way to calm the mind and body. Abdominal breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and triggers your natural relaxation response, creating a state of calmness.

Sit or stand comfortably and take a long deep breath in while pushing your stomach out, as if you are filling your lungs completely from the bottom to the top. Hold that full breath for just a moment before relaxing your stomach and exhaling slowly. This is an abdominal breath, and not only is it easy to use anywhere and any time, it brings instant calmness to your mind and body.

Don’t worry if your mind is busy or wandering. If it does, then just gently bring your attention back to your breath. Notice that your body is beginning to relax, that you can let go of the tension in your shoulders and muscles, and your mind begins to clear.

You can use this technique as often as you like, when you’re feeling good, when you’re feeling stressed, and even as you’re falling asleep. The more often you do it, the more effective it becomes, and the better you feel.

Check In With Your Feelings

What’s happening in your body and mind today? Sometimes, our feelings sneak up on us, and our body can experience symptoms of emotions before our conscious mind is aware of them. 

Checking in with yourself will help you to better understand your feelings and how they are affecting you, especially if those feelings are happening at a subconscious level.

Self Soothing

Instead of pushing down any negative feelings, use healthy ways to process and resolve them so they don’t continue to build up. The first step is to acknowledge that you are having a feeling, and then you can use these simple methods to soothe them.

Breathing. Deep abdominal breathing activates the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and slows down your reactivity. Breathing slowly, deeply, can de-escalate a full-blown panic attack in a matter of minutes. 

Hand on the heart. Neural cells around the heart activate during stress. Holding your hand on your chest over your heart calms those neurons down again, often in less than a minute. This works even better when you focus on positive thoughts and feelings while you're doing it.

Reset your Mind. Sit back for just a moment and take a deep breath. Let your eyes close and imagine a time when you felt the most relaxed. Maybe it was a vacation, or just relaxing on a beautiful day. Imagine that moment as if you are there again, with all that you can see, all that you can hear, and how it feels being there. After a few moments you’ll feel like you’re ready to open your eyes, feeling much better.

Self Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a specific set of tools designed to help people use their own skills, abilities, and resources more effectively to take back control of the parts of their lives that felt like they were out of control before. Hypnosis breaks down the barriers that held you locked in unwanted behaviors and thought patterns, and empowers you to create new healthier behaviors in their place. A great way to begin is by using self-hypnosis. The steps below will guide you through a very basic introductory self hypnosis experience.

Remember that you don’t have to create pictures in your mind in order to be successful. Some people do, and others do well with a vague idea of the thing they’re thinking of. As long as you can “sense” what you want to achieve, you can self-hypnotize.

Find a comfortable place you can safely sit with your eyes closed for about 5 minutes. Turn off your phone and minimize other distractions. Take a few deep breaths and let your eyes close or let your vision go soft and blurry. Imagine a place where you felt truly relaxed. Imagine that you are in that moment from your past again right now. Just sit quietly and let your mind wander while you imagine being there. Make it as real as possible by adding as many details as you can, imagining that you can see the things around you through your own eyes, hear the sounds around you in your own ears, and focus on how it feels being there. Just be there in your mind for a while.

While you’re there, imagine that you can carry this feeling of peace and calm with you wherever you go. If this feeling had a color, what would it be? What shape would this feeling be? Imagine that you carry this feeling with you, so that you can bring it to the surface any time, Like carrying a small token in your pocket that brings up the wonderful feelings of the things it reminds you of.

Practice this exercise at least once a day for a week. You’ll begin seeing positive changes in the way you think and feel almost immediately.

For some people, seeing a professional is the best option, but if you aren’t able to do so right away, begin to practice these techniques on your own to benefit from the changes you can incorporate into your life. 🍥

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