Each day we are faced with many situations that bring out emotions, both good and bad. But sometimes in life we encounter a time when our emotional health is threatened because of what is going on around us. Recently, I dealt with one of these times. My life was turned upside down. Everything I believed in and have worked toward for years felt like it was crumbling around me. My emotions were so jumbled there were times I felt I was going crazy. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t focus. There was nowhere to escape because the emotional turmoil was inside and therefore it came with me everywhere I went. Some of what I felt:
- Totally overwhelmed by even day-to-day tasks.
- An inability to make decisions about my life.
- Feeling nauseous and physically sick.
- Not sleeping, having a hard time falling asleep and when finally able to sleep waking up a few hours later.
- An overwhelming desire to run away and escape.
But more than any of these was the overwhelming feeling of being bombarded with emotions, some that I did not remember ever feeling before. It was as if I bounced from emotion to emotion, some positive, some negative. As much as I tried not to dwell too long in the negative emotions, I always seemed to come back there. But the part that made me feel completely out of control was as I bounced I never knew where I was going to land. I didn’t know if in five minutes I was going to feel angry, sad, or hopeful. It was this feeling of not being able to get control of my emotions that made me feel as if I was losing my mind.
Although we may not always face this level of emotional turmoil, we all have times when we must gather our inner resources and find a way to harness our emotions and find a positive and productive way forward. The following are some of the ways I coped:
Find someone to talk to. This can be a therapist, a family member or a friend. You should look for someone who isn’t going to judge you and, if your situation involves another person, isn’t going to judge that person. You just need someone to listen, to let you know your point of view matters. Someone who will let you vent, yell, scream, or just talk it out.
Remind yourself to breathe. Okay, as ridiculous as this sounds because how could you possibly forget to breathe, it is important. Remind yourself to take calm, deep breaths. While at times the emotions were so overwhelming I felt I couldn’t breathe, other times I would need to remind myself to simply breathe.
Find a way to sort through the emotions. My method was to envision a number of circles in front of me. Each circle represented a different emotion. When feeling overwhelmed I took a few minutes to decide which emotion I was feeling, which circle I was in. Although it seems as if it would be easy to know what you are feeling, at times of high stress and emotion, it isn’t always that easy. Once you know what you are feeling, you can take steps to manage that single emotion.
Break the problem down into small steps. Trying to solve a huge problem is impossible. Taking one step at a time toward a solution is much easier. Most problems can be broken down into smaller chunks and as you manage and work on one small part, you feel a sense of accomplishment and may motivate yourself to continue working through the situation.
Go easy on yourself. No matter what your situation, you may expect more of yourself than is possible. If you have suffered an emotional upheaval, don’t expect to get over it in a short amount of time. Allow yourself to work on solutions, to heal.
Take care of yourself. When focused on emotional turmoil, it is easy to skip meals, manage on a few hours of sleep and ignore your own needs. But taking care of yourself, eating right, getting sleep, putting aside some time each day for your own enjoyment all helps to give you a healthier perspective on your situation and your life.
These steps helped me through my recent emotional turmoil. I hope they help you. Remember if you feel you can’t handle the situation by yourself, contact a medical professional or therapist to help you through.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.