- on edge
- that things are too much
- easily tired and fatigued
Do any of these feeling resonate with you? You may be a person who is sensitive to emotional overload. For some people, being around a lot of others such as in a shopping centre or at a party can be exhausting and stressful. People who experience emotional overload are often sapped of energy and they also take on the feelings of those around them easily.
What is emotional overload?
Emotional overload is when a person experiences many distressing or intense emotions at one time. Or, they feel one emotion after another in succession which leads to feeling tired, stressed and depleted.
When people are empathic (being able to put themselves in the shoes of others), oftentimes they feel what others feel. When there are a lot of people around, especially in distressing circumstances, the person will feel everyone else’s emotions as well as their own.
Causes of emotional overload
Being surrounded by a lot of people or being the “fixer” are common causes of emotional overload. Being the person that other people turn to in times of distress and anxiety may mean that you are the “fixer”.
At other times, when we experience a lot of difficult emotions one after the other, we are also at risk of emotional overload. Some of these include:
- financial distress
- traumatic event
- long-term illness
- losing a loved one
- sudden changes such as moving house
- relationship problems
- dealing with work/school related problems
- excessive responsibilities
Managing emotional overload
Here are some steps to managing emotional overload:
- Set boundaries and learn to say no. This is so important because you cannot give to others when you are running on empty.
- Understand and listen to your body. It’s important to look out for signs of burnout BEFORE it happens. Take note of when you START to feel tired, run down or overwhelmed. When this happens, take a step back and recharge.
- You can recharge by doing things that fuel you. Music, poetry, nature, reading a book and spending time with friends are some examples of activities you can pursue to look after your wellbeing.
- Create a routine and stick to it. This means have structure in your day to avoid feelings of being overwhelmed or losing control. Give yourself time to complete projects and to address your personal needs.
Prioritising ourselves does not mean we are selfish but rather that we value ourselves enough to sometimes put our own needs first. Emotional overload is unhealthy and unhelpful. When you are able to identify what makes you feel overloaded, you give yourself mastery over your life and your health.
Written By Olivia Guerini – Registered Counsellor