How can I stop feeling overwhelmed by intense emotion?

John Preston, PsyD
Most of the pain of overwhelming emotion is caused by our struggle against feeling the emotion. We fight against our situation, wishing things were different, being disappointed when our expectations aren’t met and telling ourselves we shouldn’t be upset, depressed, sad, disappointed or angry. The next time you feel overwhelmed by intense emotion, try doing the exact opposite of what you normally do: feel the emotion and accept it.

Tell yourself, “I’m feeling _______ right now and it is very uncomfortable. I don’t have to like it, but it is what I’m feeling in the moment, and I can accept that this is my experience right now. This emotion is only temporary, and it will soon fade.”
The energy we expend in fighting off painful emotions actually makes those emotions worse. If you want to explore the feeling of acceptance further, consider starting a regular meditation practice.
Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

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Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

When you have depression, it can feel like there's no way out. To begin changing the way you feel, you'll need an arsenal of proven techniques for lifting your mood and preventing relapse. The...

Continue Learning about Emotions



Medical science recognizes a mind-body connection and that your emotions may affect your body's physical health. Being down or depressed can cause fatigue, aches, and pains. If you are having problems and are also stressed, it's a ...

good idea to let your doctor know. This can be part of the diagnosis. Seeking an emotional balance and developing some resistance to bad feelings can be an important step to improved health. Techniques to improve your emotional health can range from medication to talking with an advisor, eating healthfully or exercising.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.