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Why Am I So Emotional? 6 Reasons Why You Feel Overwhelmed

It’s not uncommon for a tide of emotions to sweep us off of our feet, especially when experiencing events that deeply impact our lives. However, sometimes it may seem that our reactions are over the top — a minor frustration can bring about tears, and a small irritation can make us snap. Why does this happen?

Key takeaways:

In this article, we investigate the most common reasons for being over-emotional and strategies that can help us navigate our emotional landscape without being swept up in the tides.

Understanding our emotions

Emotions are bodily reactions to internal and external stimuli, allowing us deeper insight into ourselves and our surroundings: experiences, relationships, upcoming or past events that can inspire joy, trepidation, or something in between.

Emotions capture our attention and alert us to pay heed to our experiences, whether they are positive or negative.

Generally, they can be distinguished into 6 primary emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. All of them help us interact and respond to the world around us.

Dangers of suppressing emotions

Avoiding or refusing to deal with emotions does not make them go away. On the contrary, they may bottle up and resurface when least expected. Think of it as a pressure cooker — if we ‘push down’ or suppress our emotions, it’ll create a boiling pot of stress and anxiety or even lead to depression. In addition to that, unresolved emotions can manifest as various physical symptoms, adding to the stress we already feel and affecting our overall health.

Avoiding our feelings stuns our growth and hinders our self-awareness. Naturally, our relationships also suffer because of this, and this strain put on relationships can deeply damage them. The culminated stress can result in emotional outbursts and moodiness and, in extreme cases, the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms like addiction.

Vulnerability is not a weakness

Society sometimes equates vulnerability with being soft or wimpy, and you may have heard phrases like “boys don’t cry” or “pull yourself together” when growing up. This paints vulnerability or emotional expression as a weakness and discourages opening up to avoid appearing lesser than, which is detrimental to your mental health.

Emotional intelligence (EI) helps us understand that vulnerability is not a weakness, and it’s important to remember that. It takes courage to be open and honest with yourself and others about your feelings. While the long-withstanding societal opinions about vulnerability may encourage to exercise restraint and aloofness, know that only by being vulnerable can you foster genuine connections with others and improve your overall well-being.

Take the time to understand yourself better, question old assumptions, learn to identify each emotion as it arises, and then assertively express yourself.

Communicating your emotions

Verbalizing emotions is difficult, and it’s even more so when we’re feeling vulnerable. A good place to start is by making sharing your emotions a habit, even if it’s a small tidbit about your day.

‘I’ statements are vital when trying to express your emotions in a clear and concise manner. For example, say, “I feel hurt when you do that,” instead of, “You always hurt me when you do that.” By utilizing ‘I’ statements, you emphasize how a specific behavior or comment personally affects you and acknowledge that you are responsible for your own feelings. Additionally, you avoid it coming across as a personal attack, and your partner may feel less defensive as they are no longer the center figure of the conversation.

Stating your needs clearly is also important. Whether requesting space when feeling down or asking for a comforting hug when sad, communicating your feelings is key to ensure they are understood and met. If your partner doesn’t know what you need, it may feel like your needs are being ignored — hence, honest communication will help avoid such instances.

While it may feel uncomfortable at first, through regular communication and practice of expressing your feelings, you and your partner will cultivate a trusting and loving relationship by being vulnerable.

6 reasons you might be feeling over emotional

We have curated a list of reasons that could be responsible for your heightened emotional state. Identifying these factors can help you grow and heal.

1. Hormonal imbalances

Severe mood swings can be caused by fluctuations or hormonal imbalances. Estrogen, cortisol, testosterone, and other hormones all play major roles in making sure your body functions properly. Common suspects for an imbalance of hormones or in the relationship between them are monthly cycles, medications, illnesses, and chronic stress. Any of the mentioned can result in heightened sensitivity and moodiness.

Seek medical advice, consult a doctor, and undergo relevant blood tests that can help identify and address hormone fluctuations or imbalances.

2. Trauma

The experience of a high-stress event can leave a detrimental impact on your mental health. This is what we call psychological trauma. Trauma disrupts the body’s natural reactions to stimuli and forces a fear, shame, or anger-based response and erratic or impulsive behavior.

The feelings of helplessness and the lack of security imposed by trauma can lead to the development of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder that need to be addressed and managed with the help of a licensed mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive process therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy show promising results in reducing trauma symptoms and helping patients cope.

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling. Psychotherapy is shown to be an effective way to address trauma and related symptoms and is strongly supported by current clinical research.

3. Work stress

We are all likely to encounter stress in a work environment at some point. A healthy amount of stress is actually beneficial as it motivates us to improve or helps us compile a quick plan of action in the face of immediate danger. However, chronic stress can toll on our mental and even physical health.

Living in a state of constant anxiety and stress will wear down our stress response system, otherwise known as our ‘fight or flight’ response, and lead to emotional exhaustion and persistent bad moods. Feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and anger may eventually result in burnout.

Identifying the main sources of stress in the workplace is essential. Book a meeting with your supervisor or HR person to voice your concerns and take steps to resolve the issue.

A good way to manage stress, work-related and not, is via journaling. Taking the time to write down your thoughts and feelings can provide you with a different perspective and help you assess the situation objectively. If you’re on the go or simply don’t have the time to sit down and recount your experiences, use the notes app preinstalled on your phone or mental health apps designed to improve your well-being in an accessible and convenient way. They offer a range of helpful tools and exercises to help you build your arsenal of coping strategies, and a routine of logging your entries could be a calming and engaging experience.

4. Gaslighting or abusive relationships

You may have seen the word ‘gaslighting’ thrown around on social media as an umbrella term encompassing a broad spectrum of emotionally abusive behavior. To be exact, gaslighting is a manipulation tactic where a person makes someone doubt their perception of reality. Such a person will attempt to confuse, invalidate, and lie to the victim to acquire more power over them.

Gaslighting is almost always intentional, and a person gaslighting another consciously aims to normalize abusive behavior and maintain control over them. If someone in your life consistently dismisses your concerns, makes you question the validity of your memories, and/or labels you as ‘too emotional,’ it could be a warning sign of an emotionally abusive relationship.

It can be difficult to recover from gaslighting and be confident again. The first steps to healing are recognizing the issue, identifying the scope and magnitude of the manipulation, and then working with internal and external resources to rebuild self-esteem. Surround yourself with people who love and respect you and can validate your feelings when you’re faced with self-doubt. Setting healthy boundaries is not easy, and if you’re struggling to do it alone, do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.

5. Mental health concerns

Experiencing a constant stream of intense emotions isn’t normal. If you’re regularly overwhelmed, it could indicate an underlying mental health condition that needs to be investigated. Anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder are just some of the mental health conditions that can contribute to emotional distress and heightened sensitivity.

Sensitivity is often stigmatized, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t be alarmed if you suspect that an underlying mental health condition is a contributing factor to your emotional state. Acknowledging this and working with mental health professionals may help you heal and lead a more fulfilling life.

6. Lack of sleep

Sometimes, the reason for our heightened emotional state is the lack of sleep. It’s no surprise to hear that sleep deprivation makes us feel irritated, weepy, and even angry at times. In fact, emotional regulation becomes more difficult the longer you go without getting a good night's rest. Research shows that sleep deprivation destabilizes our moods and increases the risk of depression. Thus, prioritize quality sleep not only to be refreshed and energized the next day, but for your overall well-being as well.

There are some simple things you can do to ensure you are well rested. Set a consistent bedtime routine and reduce screen time to zero. Regular exercise and at least 7 hours of sleep each night should help restore your emotional balance.

Being emotional is a natural part of being human. Even when overwhelmed, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the reasons behind our feelings or what they are trying to tell us. By being honest, we can foster deeper relationships with others and a kinder relationship with ourselves. Remember to practice self-care and seek out assistance from friends and loved ones or a licensed mental health professional if you are struggling to restore the balance on your own. Embracing and understanding our emotions is the starting point of our personal growth and healing journey.

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