Coping With Overwhelming Emotions.

Many people when they begin therapy are in a state of crisis or emotional overwhelm. Many people have just never learned or developed the skills to handle their emotions. They think that they are defective but in reality they have never practiced how to regulate their own emotional states. As we sit and begin to untangle the mess of the situations that present themselves, it can often feel as though some basic practical skills are needed to be able to tolerate the time that the therapeutic process naturally takes. Even when one is not in therapy, we all need to work on developing a steadier internal base from which to weather the various emotional storms that come our way.

Here are some practical ideas:

  • Developing Mindfulness

The acronym RAIN – Tara Brach meditations and talks are very helpful





-Watch feelings come and go without judgement

-Say to yourself “I accept that I feel ———- right now”

-Breathe in the word “accept” and breathe out “accept” again

-Practice staying with “just the facts” of what is happening in the present

-Think about how to get through the crisis or situation without making it worse

  • Interpersonal Skills:

-Keeping the goals for the relationship in mind

-Validating other people’s feelings and being honest, fair and truthful with them

-Asking others to do things or saying no to others without being too passive or too aggressive

Sometimes the best thing to do when you are extremely stirred up is to focus on something else, however keep in mind that this approach can be overused.

  • Distraction:

-Do an activity – cleaning, working out, or meeting a friend etc. can be therapeutic

-Animal contact and play

-Creative process

-Playing music

-Do something to stimulate your 5 senses i.e. Smells can be very soothing

-If the mind is spiraling sometimes a more powerful intervention can help like sucking a lemon or eating a chilli

-Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • Relaxation Strategies-Disengage from stress

-Diaphragmatic breathing

-Autogenic Training

-Leave the problem solving for later!

Practice these skills as often as possible so that you will be really comfortable using them when you need them.

  • Self Help Books:

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Don’t Let Your Emotions Ruin Your Life

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