How to deal with sudden emotional overwhelm

Sometimes, it hits me like a ton of bricks. 


Painful emotion.

I sit at my kitchen table, having breakfast and reading a magazine. When all of a sudden, I think about something terrible happening to my mother and a wave of terror wells upp inside my chest. My eyes tear up immediately. Blood rushes to my face. My breathing shallows.

I have no idea what's happening. I'm in a good mood. I have done nothing to trigger these feelings. I don't even know what these feelings are. A weird combination of intense love and a fear of loss. 

This happens to me every once in a while, always without warning or warrant. I involuntarily imagine a loved one getting hurt or dying, I react as if it already happened, and then I am shocked over how I could possibly imagine such a horrible thing. 

I sit for several minutes, trying to think happy thoughts to wash away the feelings. But all I can think about it how stupid and unnecessary it is of me to do this to myself. 

Do you know what I mean? Do you too sometimes get a surge of overwhelming fear and horror, right out of the blue?

I don’t know if it’s a HSP thing - something that happens more often and more powerfully to highly sensitive or emotional people. Or if it’s really common and everyone gets it.

However, I have slowly found a way to deal with this nuisance. 

Here are my 3 tips for dealing with sudden emotional overwhelm:

  1. I allow the emotions to come. I don't hold back. It's just feelings, they can't hurt me or anyone else in a real way. 
  2. I dare to just be in the emotions and explore them. What nuances are there in there? Quite often, a feeling is a cocktail of several different thoughts, both positive and negative.
  3. I try to convert the emotional energy into something positive. When I am struck by overwhelming fear of losing someone close to me, I redirect my fear into gratitude. I focus on how thankful I am to have them in my life and I visualize my love beaming in their direction, keeping them safe.
  4. I distract myself with something nice, like watching an episode of a tv show, or going for a walk. 

Does this kind of emotional lightning strike ever happen to you, and how do you deal with it?