shifting emotions in times of overwhelm

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The past week or so has definitely been a season of struggle. Overwhelm. Stress. Fear. Self doubt.  

In light of this, I wanted to take some time to discuss overwhelm.

At times, our emotions can completely consume us. And it is up to us to pull ourselves up and out of the darkness. 

But even in times of utter breakdown, we have to remind ourselves that there is hope. We have a choice. We have control. 

In light of this season of overwhelm, here are the top truths I have to remind myself when I am feeling consumed by stress, anxiety, and fear: 

01. All things come in waves. 

Everything comes in waves. Cycles. Ebbs and flows. 

Even happiness. 

This simple reminder helps us to remember that it is ok to feel the bad - along with the good.

We are going to have times that negative emotions of stress, fear, self doubt, or anxiety completely overwhelm us. And when that happens, we can take a breath and remind ourselves that we are not broken, and we are definitely not alone. The bad comes with the good - but they all come to an end. 

02. Quiet your mind.

{This is my saving grace.

When we are utterly consumed - emotions race through our minds at a terrifying pace - pulling us further and further down into the darkness. 

The only way to stop the downward pull - is to quiet the mind. 

To stop just the spiraling of thoughts. 

The best way to do this - is through mindfulness. 

Now don’t leave just yet. This doesn’t mean you have to meditate. 

Mindfulness can take several different forms. The goal is to simply quiet the mind, by slowing down and simply listening. 

One way you can do this is to sit down - with your eyes closed or focusing on a point in front of you - and take a few breaths. Once you are relaxed, simply see what pops into your head.

Resit from having any opinions about the thought. Just be an observer. 

{Then let the next thought surface. And the next.}

If you find yourself spiraling into other thoughts, bring yourself back to observing. 

You can also do this through journaling. Just start writing. Write whatever you are thinking and feeling. Let it flow out of you - releasing it as you go. Once you feel empty - go back and read what you wrote. 

By shifting our perspective from the driver, to the observer - we are able to look at our emotions in a different way. A lot of the time - we peel back enough to reveal the core of the problem - without even realizing it. 

By becoming the observer we can slowly peel away thought by thought. Emotion by emotion. Until we land on the true source of the problem. 

This time of controlled focus. Of quieting our mind - and simply listening - can be overwhelmingly therapeutic. 

As you peel back each thought and feeling - let them go. And when you get to a core emotion - spend some time working through it. Where did it come from? How can you move forward without it?

By becoming a quiet observer of your own mind, you can begin to pull yourself out of even the deepest depth of emotional darkness.

03. Everything is Momentary.

Even when negative emotions are triggered by an event, circumstance, or thought - that first initial emotion only lasts a few minutes or even seconds {not days or years}. 

But we expand it much further by ruminating - connecting it to other times we have felt the same way - and fears about how we may feel it in the future. This causes us to spiral downwards into a dark headspace that can be hard to crawl out of. ⠀

We spiral into our emotions, and build upon the negativity. 

This is a hard truth to swallow. As many of us have felt times where we are lost in emotions for days, weeks, months or even years. 

But the key take away here is that we have a choice. 

We have to remember that even the most consuming of emotions will end. And we have control over how long we allow ourselves to feel these emotions. 
 

04. You always have a choice. 

When we are consumed by negative emotions {fear, anxiety, overwhelm, anger} it is easiest to look elsewhere for the cause. We look to outside circumstances or events to justify why we are feeling certain things. ⠀

But the hard truth - is that even in the most horrific of circumstances - we still have the choice to choose our emotions. 

When you are having a bad day - you can quickly turn it around by simply choosing happiness instead. Take a few moments to recognizes where you have had moments of happiness or calm in your day. Spend just 5 minutes making a gratitude list. By shifting your thoughts from negative to positive, you can completely change the path the rest of your day follows. 

At times, emotions overwhelm us. In the event of a panic attach - or even the death of a loved one. We can feel completely out of control. But even in our most tragic moments, we still have the power to reach within ourselves and choose a different emotion. To swap overwhelm for calm. To swap anger for joy. 

When you want to start shifting your emotions - take small steps. When you are deep within the grasps of overwhelm, it can be challenging to pull yourself up immediately to joy. Shift rage to anger. Anger to regret. Regret to indifference. Indifference to calm. Calm to hope. Hope to joy. 

We may not be able to control everything that happens to us — but we do have the power to control how we emotionally respond.

05. Finding peace. 

One of my biggest reminders when consumed in times of stress and overwhelm - is to remind myself that there is always a place to find peace. 

This can be a physical space - naturing being my favorite place. There is a quietness in nature that soothes our souls in times of stress. 

Find a quiet place to listen to the ocean waves, or the trickle of a mountain steam. Lay down in a field of grass and listen to the wind softly make its way through the blades of grass. 

When in nature, the best way to find peace is to activate your senses. To pull yourself out of your own head, and get lost in the sights, smells, sounds, and feels of the natural world around you.

The biggest thing to  remember is that we can take ourselves to physical spaces that ignite peace - but in the end, peace comes from our own acceptance within. 

We have to choose peace within ourselves.