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Unhealthy Ways of Coping with Overwhelming Emotions

There’s no secret that life isn’t always easy. Managing to maintain your happiness while struggling with everything from finances and relationship troubles to your career and personal interests can often be challenging. Sometimes, getting through it can be resolved with lifestyle changes or some time off, but other occurrences in life, or negative circumstances that happen repeatedly, aren’t as easy to get over.

When you’re going through rough times, your emotions take over. The inability to come out of this “fog” essentially leads people to do anything to soothe the pain – even if that relieve is only temporary and unhealthy. If life’s got you feeling emotionally overwhelmed, doing something about it is a must. Yet, how you respond to such circumstances can have a lasting impact on your life. Here is a look at some unhealthy ways to deal with overwhelming emotions along with healthier alternatives.

Refusing to Accept Reality

Dealing with overwhelming feelings like sadness, anger, fear, or anxiety, it may feel natural to deny there’s anything wrong. Some find that asking for help or acknowledging their feelings makes them different, weak, or crazy. Essentially, they bottle these feelings up.

Alternative: Harboring negative emotions can have severe consequences including lashing out sporadically or behaving recklessly. A better way to cope with overwhelming emotions is to allow yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re going through. Everyone has problems, and the fact that you’re having a hard time doesn’t make you weak, different, or crazy. Whether you lost a job or a loved one, if your mad or depressed, acknowledge those feelings and give yourself time to feel.

Isolation

Have you started pulling away from people you used to enjoy or things you once loved to do? Some people go through trials and essentially stop wanting to be around others. There are several concepts for why this happens. For example, a person may feel that being around others right now is draining. Others may be hiding something deeper, like a drug or gambling problem, and don’t want others judging them.

Alternative: Being around others is imperative to your emotional well-being. It prevents feelings of loneliness, depression, and anger. If you’re going through something it is better to open up to those who care about you for guidance and support. If you’re struggling with something like a gambling or drug problem you should find a rehab that can help you get sober and provide you with proper steps after detox to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Verbal Abuse

When you’re going through a hard time and feel like others don’t understand, you may start to act out against them. Becoming verbally abusive and using words of insult or threats of violence to gain control over others is a common, but unhealthy way to deal with what’s going on.

Alternative: If you’ve reached the point that you’re emotionally harming others, you need to act. There are deep-rooted issues going on that are causing you to act out of character and until you address those issues, you’ll continue to hurt yourself and others. Talk with a therapist who can provide effective cognitive approaches to resolving your pain.

Substance Abuse

When emotions get out of hand, it pushes some to start abusing substances. Drugs and alcohol have a chemical effect on the brain that causes users to feel a brief euphoria or numbness from the physical and emotional pain they may be experiencing. As they become dependent upon these substances to “feel better”, the need to use more develops into an addiction that is often difficult to stop alone.

Alternative: Turning to drugs or alcohol whether it’s wine and marijuana or tequila and heroine is never a healthy solution for dealing with emotions. If you find that you’ve had an especially stressful day or are going through a rough period, you should find a healthier way to ease the pain. To get your mind off of what’s going on, take some time to do something you enjoy. Take a mini vacation, treat yourself to a fancy dinner, join a dance class, or spend time with your kids. If you’re struggling with an addiction, enrolling in a sober living facility could be what you need to get your life back on track.

You don’t always get dealt the best hand in life, but it’s how you deal with the hand that makes a difference. If you’ve been engaging in any of the above behaviors as a means to deal with overwhelming emotions, it’s time to make a change before you hurt yourself or others. Acknowledging your feelings, giving yourself time to feel, opening up to others, seeking help from therapists or rehab facilities, and engaging in things that make you smile are all healthier alternatives that can just as easily soothe the pain – without all the consequences.

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