3 Simple Ways to Ease Emotional Overwhelm

Emotional Overwhelm

Are you feeling a sense of emotional overwhelm like you just can’t cope with the tsunami of challenges you’re facing? A lot of people eagerly anticipated a return to normalcy at the end of 2020, but that didn’t happen.

All the changes, accommodations, limitations, and demands that we have had to deal with due to the pandemic have really added up and are taking a toll on many people. A recent report from the American Psychological Association found that 84%—that’s more than 4 out of 5—of the people surveyed have been experiencing elevated levels of stress.

In addition, almost half of them reported having symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, as well as weight changes and problems with sleep—conditions that often accompany emotional overwhelm.

There are a number of practical factors that can be contributing to how people are feeling, including circumstances such as:

  • Working from home while managing kids who are doing remote classes
  • Job loss and trying to make ends meet on a significantly reduced income
  • Household tensions due to lack of personal space and privacy
  • Spousal/partner conflicts
  • Increased alcohol and substance use or other addictive behaviors
  • Prolonged grief for loved ones lost to COVID (or other causes) and not having been able to visit them in the hospital or have normal services in their honor

Having to manage multiple stressors like these, while knowing we must continue to push through for an undetermined length of time, is exhausting and can stretch the capacity to cope. Bearing this in mind, it’s important to understand that overwhelm is actually a natural response to all that people must deal with right now. It can also be very unsettling to know that even though there has been progress with getting the pandemic under control, we still must live with a lot of uncertainty.

Managing multiple stressors, while having to keep pushing through for an undetermined length of time, is exhausting and can stretch the capacity to cope. Overwhelm is a natural response to all that people must deal with right now. Click To Tweet

What can make overwhelm even worse, is the absence of many things we might normally do to try and feel better. For example, some people aren’t yet able to spend time with friends, loved ones, or in community settings in a way that satisfies their human need for fulfilling connection. And with all the demands on their time, many folks are missing out on the activities that normally would give them joy and help with stress relief. Of course, some people are simply worn too thin to add one more thing to their plate.

Despite all of this, please remind yourself that in the face of great difficulty, you persevered and made it this far.

3 Ways to Ease Emotional Overwhelm

To help you keep going, here are 3 simple things you can incorporate into your life that don’t cost anything and are not demanding of your time. Plus, they can improve your well-being while strengthening your ability to cope as you work your way toward the pandemic’s finish line.

1. Notice the micro-moments that lift your spirits each day.

When under duress, it’s easy to stay focused on the problems at hand. However, there likely are some small everyday things that help you feel momentarily better, such as:

  • A hug from your child
  • Hearing a favorite song play on the radio
  • A wave and smile from a passing neighbor
  • Snuggling with your dog or cat
  • Catching a glimpse of the sunrise or a pretty sunset

Paying more attention to the little uplifting things throughout your day can provide a nice counterbalance to those feelings of overwhelm.

2. Manage your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs).

It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of unhelpful thinking patterns when life is stressful. These ANTs, as Dr. Daniel Amen calls them, fester in your mind and make you miserable, plus they release chemicals in the brain that make you feel emotionally and physically worse—and that’s not something you need more of right now!

Using a technique borrowed from Byron Katie, here is a simple way you can challenge the negative thoughts that are making you feel even more overwhelmed:

Start by identifying what the negative or stressful thought is, then ask yourself the following questions about it:

  • Is this thought true?
  • Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
  • How do I feel when I believe this thought?
  • How would I feel if I didn’t have this thought?

Now, turn that original thought around and see if its opposite is actually truer because it just might be. By challenging your negative thoughts, you’ll learn to see through them more quickly, so they don’t keep dragging you down.

3. Reach out and connect with others.

Talk to someone else about how you feel instead of keeping it bottled up inside. Being overwhelmed right now is nothing to be embarrassed about. By connecting with others, whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, church community, or psychotherapist, you will discover that you aren’t alone. Having someone to lean on when the going gets tough can make all the difference in the world.

Give yourself a pat on the back for hanging in there. This unprecedented and difficult time has shown how strong you can be. By incorporating the strategies above, you can boost your resolve to get through it while increasing your resilience for the future.

Chronic stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being—and that of your loved ones— is more important than ever. Waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to worsen symptoms over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

3 Comments »

  1. I really needed this today. I feel overwhelmed a lot and I don’t stop to ask myself any questions about how true the thought is. I struggle with my mind so thank you for tip!

    Comment by Debbie — April 14, 2021 @ 4:20 AM

  2. Excellent article! Thanks!

    Comment by Carol — April 14, 2021 @ 5:04 AM

  3. Thank you for this article. It’s wonderful. I just love the amen clinic work. It’s brilliant

    Comment by Karen — April 14, 2021 @ 6:37 AM

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