Emotional overwhelm is the state of an intense flooding of a feeling, thought or physical sensation which you find extremely difficult to control. Mind, body and spirit is overpowered, imprisoned by it. Increased heartbeat, struggle in breathing, difficulty in sleeping, lack of focus, headache and low productivity are some of the signs.
While we can experience emotional excitement overload, which bears a bit of resemblance to overwhelm of unpleasant emotions, we shine a light on the latter today. And while anyone can undergo emotional overwhelm, it is a constant battle for a highly sensitive person (HSP) . The reason is that HSPs absorb external stimuli and process information deeply. What may seem unimportant to others is experienced to an extreme degree by HSPs.
How do you lessen instances of emotional overwhelm?
It takes an intentional and continuous effort to do so, especially for HSPs. Still, there will be instances brought about by plenty of responsibilities, expectations or situations which will leave you overstimulated if you are a HSP. With that said, here are steps to take to reduce an occurrence of an overwhelm.
Know your emotional triggers
Be aware of what activates your triggers to help manage yourself when situations arise. The triggers could include a pile of work, a forthcoming presentation, conversation, and so on.
Psychology experts advise coming up with a plan beforehand to get yourself out of it. Have a personal mantra ready to help you lessen the possibility of an emotional flooding when faced by a trigger.
Author of The Seat of the Soul and spiritual teacher Gary Zukav believes that being aware of the origin of your emotions is the first step to opening your heart to compassion. He goes on to say that whenever you experience undesirable emotions, you can act on them from a place of love instead of fear. For example, gratitude and calmness comes from a place of love while panic and worry is from a place of fear.
It rarely helps to fight off unpleasant emotions. Acknowledging them, seeing the important messages they carry, and letting the pass through without a battle puts you in a better place. As the quote goes, “the feeling you want to feel is waiting on the other side of the feeling you don’t like.”
Cater to your emotional needs
Take a good chunk of your time to pay attention to your mind, body and spirit. You can do this by going to places of nature, listening to calming music, getting enough sleep, surrounding yourself with dear ones, keeping track of your thoughts and feelings by journaling and meditating.
If you easily face emotional exhaustion constantly, you need a lot of solitary time to center yourself and, ultimately, to thrive.
Simplify your life
Although it is hard but necessary, there are some days in which journalist and rapper Graham Kajilwa ignores certain phone calls or texts whose conversations will leave him emotionally overwhelmed.
“I postpone having specific conversations when I am not ready. I would have to politely decline social invitations too. Sometimes people do not understand that is what I truly need at the time. When I am in a good space emotionally, I can fully show up for others,” explains Graham.
Other steps to simplify your life is by taking only what you can accomplish at a given time. Plan ahead, prioritize tasks, learn to say no and ask for help when you have a lot on your plate, and pat yourself in the back when you make any form of progress.
Our friends over at TheEfficientWoman recently informed us about dopamine fasting here http://theefficientwoman.co.ke/2019/11/26/have-you-tried-the-dopamine-fast/. It is an intentional decision to forego things you love to have a sense of grounding and clarity. You can go for this too.
Lastly, we recommend seeing a therapist to walk this journey with you if you are frequently overwhelmed.