Seven Tips to Help Navigate overwhelming emotions
When I have experienced intense emotions, it sometimes feels like being caught in tornado, not knowing where the ground is. I have tracked the ways I have been able to find my ground again, and I offer these insights and tools so that they may serve to help you navigate through your storms of emotional overwhelm.
- Change your plans and expectations for your day. Can you modify or postpone some of the things on your agenda? Can you delegate some of your tasks and responsibilities? Can you give yourself some free and unscheduled time in your day? Creating space in your day wherever possible is a good place to start. It can help to calm the mind and nervous system. And, you can have time to process your feelings and attend to what you may need.
Create a space to be fully present with your experience. Whether you have an hour or just 5 minutes, gift yourself a set amount of time to check-in with your body. Start by turning off your devices and find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Then, sit or stand and do a body scan. Observe how your body is in this moment. Agitated? Shortness of breath? Sore muscles? Numbness? Bring curiosity to the qualities of your emotional and physical experience. Notice the subtle changes or movements in your body.
Have a conversation with your body. Once you have created an intentional space to be with yourself, take a few deep breaths and sense into your body. You can ask your body a few questions, and then wait and listen. Here are a few examples: ‘What wants my awareness now?’, ‘What are you (the body) feeling?’, ‘What is the desire or need right now?’. You can be creative in your inquiry. Give full presence and space to listen and feel what comes. The response can be a sensation or feeling. It could also be a voice or an image. The language of the body can be subtle, so it helps to be patient, kind and curious, like you would with a child. This can be challenging at the beginning, but with practice it becomes easier.
Receive the body’s response with compassion and loving kindness. Notice if there are judgements or resistance in response to what the body is expressing. It can help to bring a quality of compassion, care, understanding, and love to whatever is coming up. Being gentle towards the body can help to ease the tension or resistance to whatever is there. Welcoming the pain or emotions as they are, with acceptance and compassion, can help them to be released.
Use Discernment. When feeling overwhelmed with emotions, it’s normal to want to temporarily escape them by doing things that might diminish the intensity. I do this sometimes by watching videos and movies on YouTube or Netflix. It can help bring greater lightness, laughter or perspective. But it can also be a form of spiritual bypassing, to avoid feeling and facing the uncomfortable info arising in the body and mind. Whatever it is that you do to respond to the overwhelming feelings, you can reflect on if and how it may be supporting you, and whether it’s healthy to continue.
Ask for help. Sometimes it can feel as if I’m in the middle of a tornado, spinning around and around, without knowing which way is up or down, north or south. Asking someone you trust for support can be a helpful way to stop spinning. Their perspectives, suggestions, and love can be good medicine.
Come to an event or book a individual session. Flowland creates an intentional space to welcome people as they are, and to encourage them to notice, express, and explore what they want and need. For those moments when you’re feeling the intensity, loneliness, chaos, mistrust in the world around you, Flowland offers a safe haven to reconnect in gentle, embodied, and supportive ways.
May you be gentle and loving towards yourself.