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What to do when I’m overwhelmed? 6 emotions to know and 10 tricks to control them

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Women have always been accused of being much more emotional than men, but we all have to know how emotions work, understand them and know how to regulate them to improve our physical and mental health.

The World Health Organization recognizes that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than men, especially due to the phases of adolescence, pregnancy and menopause that they go through.

However, within a culture that encourages being happy and avoiding unpleasant emotions at all costs, we must keep in mind that all emotions exist for a reason: They are necessary for the survival of human beings and life in society..

At any moment we can be aware of our emotions, especially if they are intense. When we feel a strong emotion and stop to listen to it, we will surely discover that it is because something has changed, something has affected us.

Although emotions are something everyday, They are not easy to understand for everyoneperhaps because of the emphasis that has long been placed on rational and intellectual processes.

Emotions are activated when our psychic apparatus detects some significant change, precisely why they are so necessary for survival. To fully understand the importance of emotions, let’s think about an example: when we are babies we completely depend on the care of the adults around us and we only have emotional expression to communicate with them.

Thanks to the child’s laughter or crying, parents understand that the baby needs something and are drawn to interact with it. As we can see, emotions not only have an adaptive function, but also a social function.

Emotions and their importance

Happiness: It is the emotion that unites us with others. It also increases our energy and capacity for enjoyment.

Surprise: It is an emotion that encourages us to explore and encourages our curiosity and interest.

Disgust: It helps us avoid unpleasant stimuli and increase our hygiene habits.

Fear: Although it is an emotion that we do not like to feel, it has an important function, protecting us by escaping or avoiding dangers.

Gonna: It is the emotion that helps us defend ourselves and face obstacles that block the achievement of objectives.

Sadness: again another emotion that we do not give ourselves permission to feel or express, but with an important function. Sadness allows us a pause in life to recover from some painful event. It also encourages other people to come to us to help us and thus reintegrate us again, little by little, into the activities of our lives.

As we see, they all exist for a reason. Letting pleasant and unpleasant emotions be expressed, listening to them and understanding them is essential for them to fulfill this function.

The problem arises when the frequency, duration and intensity of these emotions are so great that they stop helping us and cause us difficulties. and limitations in our daily lives.

It’s also just as problematic. try to “control” and block an emotion, since preventing its expression will deprive us of it fulfilling its purpose.

Up to this point we have seen the process of understanding our emotions, now we are going to go deeper in the ability to know how to regulate them when we feel overwhelmed by them.

Techniques for regulation

The concept of emotional regulation is coined by Gross in 1998, refers to the process by which people influence their when and how they experience and express them.

Dysregulation would imply the inability to accept and manage emotions or those moments when the intensity of the emotion is so high that it interferes with self-control.

Techniques for emotional regulationThey are aimed at giving people the ability to experience, influence, manage or express emotions in such a way that they facilitate goal-directed behavior and do not interfere with their achievement.

There are two general strategies for emotional regulation: those aimed at emotional acceptance and those aimed at change.

emotional acceptance

1. Emotional education in relation to knowing the different emotions, naming them, discriminating them.

2. Emotional expression adjusted to the situation, increasing tolerance to difficult emotional states and implementing self-control strategies.

3. Understand that emotions are telling us something about the situation, stop and listen to what information they are giving us.

4. Performing Mindfulness, a technique aimed at being connected to the present, through the body, sounds, thoughts…


1. Increase activity, passivity encourages discomfort to be experienced with more intensity, which in turn prevents new emotions from being generated.

2. Cause distraction in situations where you cannot change activities

3. Increase social relationships.

4. Set small goals to solve problems.

5. Deactivation of anxiety states with relaxation techniques such as abdominal breathing, Jacobson relaxation or imaginative visualization of a pleasant environment.

6. Expose oneself to situations that are feared without avoiding them, at the same time that contact with events that generate excessive discomfort should be reduced.

*Adela Sánchez-Escribano Martínez and Francisco Javier Bonilla Rodríguez are residents of Clinical Psychology at the Fundación Jiménez Díaz University Hospital.

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