They feel STRESSED

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is it?

Emotional overload/overwhelm may be experienced when some of our emotions become so intense that we feel we can’t cope or manage them anymore. These emotions, whose intensity builds over time, may be caused by prolonged stress, adversity, traumatic life experiences (e.g., chronic bullying), or a life-threatening accident.

People who experience emotional overload/overwhelm might see their ability to think and act rationally be significantly affected. They often have difficulties focusing on and performing daily tasks. They also tend to withdraw from their friends and family and see their feelings of intense grief penetrate many areas of their life. Emotional overload/overwhelm should not be ignored in the hopes that it will go away on its own, because if left unaddressed, it can have serious repercussions. not only on our mental health (anxiety and depression), but also on our physical health (e.g., persistent fatigue, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances).

What is emotional overload/overwhelm telling your young person?

The message here is simple — your young person has a very, very full plate or they’ve been through some highly stressful event(s), and their mind has reached its limits when it comes to its ability to cope in an effective and healthy manner. It’s urgent for your young person to be very kind to themselves and to take good care of both their body and their mind.

Suggestions for your young person on how to manage emotional overload?

They need to reach out for help and talk to a trusted friend, family member who cares about them, or a therapist who will know how to support them.

Another great solution here is the practice of mindfulness. It works miracles when it comes to emotional overload. It will teach them very effective and fast-acting relaxation techniques that will bring their mind and their body to a place of calmness and awareness. They will also learn to identify their stress triggers more easily and how to manage them effectively.

Meditate and then meditate some more! Meditation will help them learn how to redirect their thoughts at will, so they can choose to focus on positive and comforting thoughts that will help them manage their emotions and reduce their emotional stress.

Help them reduce some of the stressors on their plate. Ensure they are getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting physical activity and/or time in nature.