When emotions become too much!

How do we handle it if our emotions become too much? Is how I'm feeling okay? Is it normal? How do I healthily let off that steam?

Natanya Mandel

11/30/20212 min read

a dirt road with autumnal leaves on the ground
a dirt road with autumnal leaves on the ground

One thing I have noticed, in my years of working with people in crisis or trauma, is that we are not taught how to process the big emotions that these events create within us. We either deny them, or allow them to take over. Sometimes, we get stuck in them. This can, at times, be really difficult.

All of us will experience circumstances which may result in overwhelming feelings of grief, sadness, anger, fear, or other emotions.

This is normal and natural.

Sometimes, these feelings come up unexpectedly. Perhaps something happened in the past, and you have unresolved feelings.

This is also normal.

Perhaps you weren't in the right place in your life to deal with an issue, or you didn't recognize what was going on, or perhaps the event was just too big, and new emotions come up every now and then for you to resolve.

It's okay!

This process is about learning, growing, and moving forward in your life so that you can live life to its full potential, for yourself. You may find it frustrating, but it's all perfectly normal.

This is how we know it's important to "process" these emotions - allow them their course.

To allow yourself to process your emotions in a healthy way: Let them come up.

It's okay!

Feel the emotion. Allow yourself to experience the emotions. For example:

  • if you need to cry, then do so

  • if you need to punch something, punch your pillow

  • if you need to screem, scream into your pillow (or somewhere safe)

  • if you feel afraid, ask yourself questions to identify what is making you feel unsafe, then take steps to move to a safe space, or seek help from a professional

  • If you need to talk, find someone trustworthy and on your side, and speak to them.

It is important to know that your emotions will change. One day, you may feel sad, the next angry, another afraid, and so on. At times, you may feel quite happy. All of this is absolutely normal. And denying it all is also perfectly normal! That is a self-protecting mechanism. Perhaps your mind and body simply needs a break.

The emotion may ebb and flow in a wave,; it's unlikely to be constant. For instance, if you feel sad, and want to cry, do so. The crying will last a little bit, then it will pass. Allow it to pass.

It's okay!

Perhaps once you have finished crying, you can blow your nose, wash your face, and then go sit under a tree, pat your pet, do some art or other activity that you like to do. Perhaps you might like to go for a walk.

Explore where your body is feeling the sadness. Ask yourself, "what am I feeling, is it pain or tightness or something else? Where am I feeling it?" Breathe into this place. Monitor it. Is it moving? Whatever you are experiencing, just notice it. Accept it.

It's okay!

When you feel you have calmed down, you can start to ask yourself questions or think about the circumstances surrounding the event/s causing the emotion. "What's my part in this? What do I need to do?" Or ask yourself whatever is pertinent to your particular circumstance. This may take you a few days to get to. There's no rush!

Feeling the emotion, calming down, and then asking yourself useful questions to move forward is a really good way to process out emotion in a healthy and lasting way.