Are you about to freak out? 8 steps to deal with strong emotions

I am a very sensitive person. Sometimes I feel so emotional about things it is difficult for me to function properly. Last year I went through a very bad breakup. I felt so awful about it that I wrote a blog post thinking that I was actually about to have a heart attack. For days I had barely eaten, barely slept and there was this persistent thump, thump, thump in my chest that made me feel constantly sick, constantly on-edge and very unwell.

I have felt strong emotions like this before. If you have ever nearly fallen (from a height) and righted yourself, you may have noticed that your body reacted. You may have felt a strong surge of energy flood your nervous system, heightening your senses. Some things our bodies do are instinctual and we have no cognitive control over them. Don’t believe me? Well, consider the knee-jerk reaction.

Could I control my body’s reflexes, if I tried really hard? 

This is properly known as the Patellar reflex. Basically (as we all know) if you bang your knee, it jerks up. It doesn’t matter how much you try to control this instinctive reflex, it just happens independently of your conscious intentions.

From Wikipedia: “Striking the patellar ligament with a reflex hammer just below the patella stretches the muscle spindle in the quadriceps muscle. This produces a signal which travels back to the spinal cord and synapses (without interneurons) at the level of L4 in the spinal cord, completely independent of higher centres. From there, an alpha-motor neuron conducts an efferent impulse back to the quadriceps femoris muscle, triggering contraction.”

Yup, so when I whack my knee, my body simply reacts, totally independent of my personal intentions.

My body is flooded with emotion when something goes wrong 

Likewise, when I nearly fall and I right myself. The ‘feelings’ that flood my body feel so real. Even when I know I am in no danger of falling anymore, the feelings persist for a few seconds, after the danger has passed. My body reacts to the world around it, and to the world within it.

When I get very upset, I get feelings of strong emotions. Sometimes I find these very hard to cope with. Over the years I have learnt many techniques to help me deal with strong emotions, but it is not always easy. Sometimes it feels as if my body has a mind of its own. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the strong emotions I feel.

I also find that when I let my emotions get the better of me, the can get worse and worse. If I let myself get too upset, I can stay upset for far longer than I should, and this adds to my distress.

A personal problem is making me emotional

For the last few months, I have had a very annoying problem. It is fairly minor, and yet something that has been driving me crazy. Over the past few days I have become increasingly anxious about this problem, to the point where it is really beginning to affect my work, my happiness and even my relationship. I feel that I am at the point of emotional exhaustion now; every time this problem is even mentioned, I get very, very upset, irrational and emotional.

Just so you don’t think it’s anything too bad, I can reveal that it is over a sum of money I paid to a dodgy, cheap web design company to help with this very blog, and as you can understand, I am highly emotional about something that I spend so much time, love and energy on. I would rather deal with the devil himself that have to speak to anyone associated with this company anymore.

Small problem, yeah? But it doesn’t feel like that to me.

It doesn’t matter what your problem actually is, just how you react to it. Often, I am great in a big crisis, it’s the little things that get me down. After my long and overly personal rant here, I would like to give you some tips I have researched on how to deal with strong emotions.

1. Centre the self

Detach from the problem and see it as separate from yourself. Do not identify with the problem.

2. Deep breaths

If you are feeling anxious, take some deep breaths to calm down.

3. Return to the senses

What can you see, hear, smell, taste? Take you mind of the emotional trigger by focusing on what is really happening to your body.

4. Take time out

Find a quiet space where you can be on your own for a while.

5. Look in the mirror

Connect with your own eyes and remember that you are bigger than this problem.

6. Ask for help

Ask your guardians and guides (or your higher power or god) to assist you in remaining calm and dealing appropriately with your emotions.

7. Distract yourself

Take on a task that is all-consuming so that you have something else to focus on for a little while.

8. Talk it out

Find someone you trust and talk to them. Ask them not to give you advice if you don’t want it. Often we just need a listening ear.

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  1. January 26, 2014

    IS that you in the pic? Daggone it, Alyce. You’re too perfect! Look at your Miso-rendered perfect legs! And if that’s not you in the pic then this will seem entirely weird.

    But hey, I was shopping earlier (and accidentally spent $600 at Walmart- thank you Frank O’Bannon grant!) in the International food aisle picking up some cous cous, sriracha, coconut milk, and red curry paste, when I came across Miso and tofu soup. Before reading your posts, I would have never (in a million years) bought miso with tofu. But I did. And then I thought, “Daggonit, Alyce Vayle!”

    Thanks for that. ;0) And, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more health conscious after months of reading your writing. The stuff rubs off on you!

    I’m so glad to see you doing so well after the breakup (way back when); I remember that and I knew you would come out stronger for it. By the way, totally off the subject but have you taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test? Fascinating stuff! You should check it out if you haven’t: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp I took it recently and discovered I’m an INFJ. (That’s another way of saying Type A. Ha.) If you do take it, let me know your results. x

    1. Alyce Vayle
      January 28, 2014

      Thanks for the link, Mono! I will be going right to that site to check it out! One of my fave bloggers Penelope Trunk is always talking Myers-Briggs. She won;t work with someone who she doesn’t have a personality match with! I am so much happier now with my new man and new life – I can’t believe I suffered so long for no reason!

      Thanks as always for your comments (and lovely compliment) and talk again soon!

      –Alyce

  2. Pingback: Let go of anger by being conscious of your emotions | Anger techniques

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