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When Emotional Overwhelm Hits

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

We all have those moments when our emotions run high. Whether it's stress, anxiety, grief, sadness, loneliness, frustration...we've all been there. I want to share 10 tools to combat emotional overwhelm.

Some of these tools are grounding techniques, others are emotional check-ins, while some are simply healthy habits. I hope you find at least one of these ten tips to be helpful, and something you can use next time emotional overwhelm hits. If you takeaway anything from this post, let it be this: You are more than the sum of your emotions. Be kind and gracious with yourself.

  1. SLEEP: Ask yourself: how many hours of sleep did I get the last few nights? Am I sleep deprived? (Generally speaking, I slept less than 7 hours). Did I oversleep (Generally speaking, I slept more than 10 hours)? Has my sleep been consistent or inconsistent over the last few nights? Do I think my emotions are due to my sleep (or lack there of)?

  2. PRIMARY EMOTION: Ask yourself, what primary emotion am I feeling right now? Anger is often a secondary emotion, meaning it is triggered by a primary emotion like feeling hurt, scared, overwhelmed, worried, sad...etc. Analyze what primary emotion you are feeing and why.

  3. FOOD CHECK: What have you eaten today? Are you hungry? Is your blood sugar crashing? Did you consume a lot of added sugar or caffeine? Have you had protein today? Vegetables?

  4. YOU ARE NOT YOUR FEELINGS: Oftentimes we can get stuck. We feel anxious, so we say we are anxious. We feel sad, so we say we are sad. Instead, try to reframe your thoughts and words. For example you could think, "In the moment, I am feeling anxious." Understanding the emotion as temporary and as a feeling, not as your identity is so important.

  5. IT'S NOT ALL OR NOTHING: You can live in the both-and. You can be both anxious and productive. You can be both grieving and smiling. You can enjoy both brownies and veggies. There is a grey scale to life! When emotional overwhelm hits, try focusing on the both-and, not the all-or-nothing.

  6. BODY SCAN: Scan your body. Are your muscles tense? Is your jaw clenched? Neck stiff? Shoulders hunched? Fists clenched? Considering doing a body scan practice or mindfulness practice to conscientiously relax each muscle starting from your the bottom of your toes, to the top of your head. The Calm app is a great resource for this!

  7. YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS: We all have obtrusive thoughts. Instead of valuing your obtrusive thought and becoming distraught at it's disturbance, try a different approach. Recognize the thought for what it is: obtrusive. Try to not prescribe value [good/bad, right/wrong...etc.] or emotional energy to it. Call it out, name it as obtrusive, and move on.

  8. BREATHE DEEP: Consider taking a time out. Spend 5 or so minutes focusing solely on your breathing. Again, try to not prescribe judgement to your breathing...simply breath. Again, the Calm app is a great resource for this!

  9. GET MOVING: Go outside and get some fresh air. Take a walk, and enjoy creation.

  10. GRATITUDE: Spend time writing down or meditating on the things that are going well, or the things you are grateful for.

At the end of the day, be gracious with yourself! Give yourself the grace you would pass on to someone else. You can do hard things. <3


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