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What Can We Do When Things Feel Like They’re Too Much?

When we’re under high levels of stress and everything feels emotionally exhausting, it feels if we let out one emotion, acknowledge one feeling, we may simply crumble into a million pieces. As a result, many of us hold in our emotions to protect ourselves and others from becoming completely flooded with feelings. Whatever the reason, too many of us hold in our emotions, moving through life like a volcano about to explode. To make matters worse, keeping these emotions inside requires an immense amount of energy and focus, something most of us don’t have a surplus of. It’s important to know, all emotions are valid. I’ll say it again. All emotions are valid. Everything you are feeling is valid and okay. Unpleasant, but okay. You may be arguing with me in your head, trying to convince me or inform me that your emotion or emotions aren’t valid but I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Every emotion and feeling is right, valid and okay.

While emotions are okay, holding them in is not. During phases of life or differing experiences, keeping emotions inside may be a survival mechanism. Survival mechanisms are helpful and necessary but they’re not permanent. Most of us feel better after letting our emotions out little by little. If we release them all at the same time, we risk becoming flooded and shutting down. Picture a dam, holding back water, with a little door in it. If we let water out a bit at a time, we water the earth below allowing it to grow and thrive. If we let all of the water out at once, we drown the land. If we don’t let any water out, pressure will continue to build up until the dam eventually breaks, again flooding the land below. Letting out our emotions a bit at a time, as they come up, allows us to grow and thrive, just like the land.

When we continue to ignore our emotions, pushing them down far enough that we pretend they don’t exist, we end up not fully being ourselves. The smallest thing could make us cry or laugh uncontrollably for no reason. We may lash out at people or become defensive in everyday conversation. We may even begin to lose track of things finding our belongings in very strange locations. The non-clinical explanation would be, if we ignore our emotions, we may start to lose our minds. Reversing that, if we acknowledge our emotions, we maintain our minds and some semblance of sanity.

The first step is simply acknowledging that emotions exist and it’s okay to feel them. This will allow emotions to rise to the surface. Feeling the emotions requires allowing them to come out in some way. This could be talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. It could also be feeling it through exercise, punching a pillow, screaming loudly or sobbing. Going for walks, practicing mindfulness, meditating and journaling are all excellent ways to process the emotions that rise to the surface. It may take some trial and error but finding what works for you is a game changer. For me, when my emotions threaten to bubble over, I find myself needing to get out. Out of my apartment, out of my space, out of my head. Moving my body allows me to feel the emotions without them exploding and overwhelming me. Going outside for a walk, no matter how hot or cold it is, works for me. A change of environment, a change of pace, a flow of feelings.

When we take the time to feel and express our emotions, we find a level of stability and calm within. While the emotions may not be pleasant, restoring balance to our minds allows us to feel less crazy. I encourage you to not only listen to your mind but to your body. Our bodies are great indicators if something is going on in your mind that you’re ignoring. Whether it’s feeling sluggish, a tightness in our chest or something else entirely, learning to listen to ourselves is the first step. Our minds and bodies are very smart. If we take the time to listen, they’ll guide us toward a path that’s necessary and rewarding for healing.

If you’ve found yourself to manage your emotions, it may be useful to try talking to a counselor in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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