There’s so much pain and raw emotion in our communities and across the world right now. And when our emotions reach a certain degree of intensity, we lose our ability to focus or think rationally. Our emotions consume us, and these overwhelming feelings make day-to-day life more difficult than ever.
Some of the most common signs of feeling overwhelmed include:
- You feel sick or exhausted.
- You can’t focus on basic tasks, and completing work feels impossible.
- You react disproportionately to a small mishap or event.
- You withdraw from friends or family.
- You lash out at friends or family.
For those who are experiencing any of these warning signs, TalentSmart wanted to share three of our best emotional intelligence strategies for self-care in the face of overwhelm. These strategies aren’t about powering through emotions to be productive and creative. They aren’t even about working at all. Ultimately, these strategies are to help you feel your feelings and protect your physical health.
Rest. Emotions are exhausting. When emotionally overwhelmed, our emotions literally overpower our ability to feel the very feelings that are overwhelming us. Take time off if you can. If not, try to find a way to take more frequent recharge breaks through the day.If neither of these are possibilities, then carve out a solid chunk of time in the morning or evening to fully break from work, chores, social media, and anything else that causes you stress. The reason true rest is so important is that when we’re emotionally overwhelmed, we’re essentially multi-tasking at all times, our attention split between our emotions and the work at hand. Rest may very well be the only time you can break that endless, shallow cycling of thoughts and begin to untangle your thoughts and emotions. Rest is a necessary step toward letting emotions sink in, processing them, and eventually reflecting on and managing them.
Don’t suppress your feelings.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin, Author
The same can be said of emotions. Feelings will exist whether you want them to or not. And when you suppress your feelings, you’re really letting them loose to wreak havoc on your mind and your body. Left, unconfronted emotions can lead to any number of physical problems over time—ulcers, migraines, and respiratory issues to name a few of the most common responses. Everyone processes emotions differently, but many people find they are better able to consider their emotions while walking, exercising, showering, meditating, or journaling. Whatever your method, the goal with time spent confronting emotions is definitely not to try to change your feelings or judge them; the goal is to accept the feelings for what they are.
Don’t feel bad for pulling away. When the emotional reservoir is already overflowing, the last thing you want to do is add to it. During these periods, it’s natural to want to pull away from friends and family. This isn’t actually a bad thing. Do what you have to in order to shield yourself from people who don’t make you feel good. Instead, reach out to the select person or people who you know can help you talk things out or even just feel good for a moment.
From Insights to Action.
“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” -Audre Lorde, Poet
Our pain in the now often becomes wisdom in the future. By paying attention to your emotions, however chaotic they may be, you might surprise yourself with what you learn long-term. It’s in the midst of chaos that we often approach solid meaning. Take these initial steps to hopefully help grapple with big emotions, but above all, practice self-love and personal acceptance as you work through complex and intense emotions.
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