Exhausted, frazzled, overwhelmed, and burnt out. If any of these words describe how you’ve been feeling lately, you’re not alone. Many of my clients have used some variation of these words to describe what they’ve been going through over the past several months, and at times it may feel like there is no end in sight. When our world is in a state of crisis, it’s hard to escape feeling overwhelmed. Below are several ways to begin to identify and cope with your emotions.
1.Try to identify what’s going on inside
Maybe it’s that summer plans have been cancelled, your kids are home all the time, you worry about how your loved ones are doing, or the turmoil and chaos of the political climate keeps you on edge. First acknowledge the factors outside of your control that are causing you to feel stressed or anxious. But underneath these outside factors there are deeper emotions too; maybe you’re feeling fearful that there are so many things you can’t control. When we start to nail down exactly what’s going on inside, it helps us to make sense of our distress. This can lead to self-compassion when you start to recognize that your feelings make sense and are there for a reason, rather than seeing yourself as weak or too emotional.
- Name other personal stressors
There are lots of stressors going on in the world at large, but chances are there are other things that are creating stress in your personal life too. If you’re having trouble with work, conflict with a significant other, or trouble sleeping, these are all important things to take note of when naming the factors that are contributing to your overall feelings. Naming other areas of stress can remind you to find coping strategies that will be relevant for your needs. If your mind starts down a negative thought spiral, try shifting your focus by engaging in an activity you enjoy.
- Accept the rollercoaster of emotions
Feelings fluctuate, and that is one of the most normal parts of being human. When feelings of sadness or stress come on, people can panic and worry that if they allow themselves to feel the intense emotions, they’ll end up lasting forever. Emotions can linger for longer periods of time though when we try to push them down and look the other way. Accepting the emotions, and the rollercoaster of change, will help you feel less panicked in the long run. And when you expect that your feelings will fluctuate, it becomes easier to tolerate the distress because you know that you’re able to bounce back.
- Try something new to help you cope
Some things that were helping you cope before may no longer be helpful. If you started to binge watch TV shows to mentally escape negative news from the media, you might be feeling lethargic now. If you weren’t an outdoorsy person before,this could be the year that you start getting outside and finding an activity that suits you. Camping, biking, kayaking, or even walking in nature can help restore a sense of calm. Or maybe you’re feeling isolated and wanting more connections in your life. If there’s a coworker you’d like to be friends with, why not reach out and start a conversation?
If you’d like to understand more about how to recognize overwhelming emotions and cope with them when they arise, you may find it helpful to talk with one of our therapists at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact Symmetry today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our therapists for in-person sessions or online counseling in Chicago.