Proven Techniques to Not Feel Overwhelmed Anymore

5 min read

Education & Career Trends: July 14, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Emotional overwhelm may be caused by a range of external or internal factors or situations.

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Emotional overwhelm is a state of being beset by intense emotion that is difficult to manage. It can affect your ability to think and act rationally. It could also prevent you from performing daily tasks. Emotional overwhelm may be caused by a range of external or internal factors or situations.

We all feel like we’re being held hostage by our emotions every now and then. While emotions can be overwhelming at times, most psychologists will tell you that they can also be powerful carriers of information about your mind and personality.

However, it can be difficult to understand your emotions from a detached distance if they begin to overpower you. You can combat this vulnerability through some research-backed techniques that help you gain more control over problematic or painful emotions.

Here are three methods you can adopt to build mental fortitude:

1. Undo rejection through objectivity

  • According to psychologist Mark Leary of Duke University, rejection can come in six forms:
  1. Criticism
  2. Betrayal
  3. Active dissociation (for example, a romantic breakup)
  4. Passive dissociation (like not being included)
  5. Being unappreciated
  6. Being teased
  • Hurt feelings resulting from any of the mentioned events can result in the experience of the “rejection emotion,” which can then turn into sadness, anger, or anxiety.
  • In order to tackle our rejection emotion, Leary explains that we must first understand why it is so important for us to feel accepted.
  • Simply put, people feel accepted when they think that they have high “relational value,” or worth, to another person or group of people.
  • A great deal of our behaviour, thought, and emotion, according to Leary, is driven by our need to belong to groups.
  • Therefore, if you are experiencing the rejection emotion, make sure that you do not underestimate your relational value because of ambiguous social cues or misinterpreting neutral feedback from others as negative feedback.

If you are going through an obvious and painful rejection, here’s how you can boost your feeling of acceptance:

  • Learn to ignore the negative reactions of people whose opinions of us are unimportant.
  • Seek connections with people with whom we have a higher relational value.
  • If necessary, make changes in ourselves that would increase the degree to which other people value having connections with us.

2. Watch closely for ’emotion dysregulation’

  • Emotion dysregulation is best understood as the repeated encroachment of unhelpful emotional patterns.
  • Emotional dysregulation can be elusive, as it can result from multiple causes. According to psychologist Arela Agako, instances of this phenomenon coalesce around five themes:
  1. Brain activation
  2. Physiology
  3. Cognition
  4. Behaviour
  5. Individual experience
  • An emotion can be activated when it is not helpful or needed. Or, an emotion can fail to activate when it is needed.
  • It is not uncommon for the intensity of an emotion to be too high or too low than what is helpful in a moment.
  • These things happen to everyone because our brains and bodies aren’t perfect.

If you are someone who struggles with emotional dysregulation, Agako has the following advice:

  • Make time for the emotion, preferably in a comfortable setting and when you can dedicate a few minutes to it without being interrupted.
  • Notice precisely what the emotion feels like in your body.
  • Try to name the emotion.
  • Reflect on whether the emotion was justified by the situation or whether it came from somewhere else.
  • If the emotion is justified, ask yourself what the emotion is telling you. What is it that you need at that moment?
  • If the emotion isn’t justified, ask yourself if there is another way to think of the situation or what you might say to a friend who is in the same situation.

3. Use your ‘thinking threshold’ to ride your emotional wave

  • Emotions are like waves: they have a beginning, middle, and end. Like waves, emotions rise up, peak, and eventually come back down.
  • A study by psychologist Jennifer Villieux identified the “thinking threshold” as a level of emotional intensity above which thinking is impaired — where thinking is driven more by emotion than by logic.
  • Beyond the thinking threshold, complex cognition is impaired.

Villieux has the following words of wisdom for anyone who relates to this experience:

  1. Remember that this emotion will not last forever. It will come down because that’s what emotions do; waves crest and then recede.
  2. In some cases, cognitive appraisal as a coping strategy may not be the best choice. For instance, cognitive reappraisal may lead to rationalising of an abuser’s actions.
  3. When you have made it past the emotional peak, make a concerted effort to use cognitive strategies to avoid such surges in the future.
  4. When you can think clearly, try to engage in some perspective-taking, problem-solving, or reflection on your experience.


Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Top Future Skills for a Human Resource Career


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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