Feeling Overwhelmed? Developing This One Skill Can Help

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From quarantining to massive layoffs to political unrest, 2020 has been full of surprises. We’ve all had to figure out how to not only survive but also thrive in a world where the rules are changing. The good news is that it’s possible to not only cope but also flourish and prosper when monumental changes shake up your life. 

You were born with the only powerful tool you need to overcome hardship: emotional resilience. In a nutshell, emotional resilience helps you avoid stress by fortifying your ability to cope with difficult situations and crises. You used emotional resilience regularly for the first few years of your life. But as you grew older, this ability disappeared because you were taught to stop using it. We’re trained to conceal our emotions.

Ally Nathaniel, a leadership and EQ consultant, who specializes in building emotional resilience, outlines her three steps to to reacquaint yourself with the art of emotional resilience, re-learn where to find it within you and figure out how to use it to your advantage.

Ally has worked as a recruiter for the Israeli Defense Force, and a manager for HR and technology teams in high-tech companies. She is also a best-selling author and motivational speaker.

Here are her three steps to dealing with overwhlem.

1. Build Your Emotional Awareness

“The first step in building emotional resilience is creating emotional awareness, which is the ability to identify the feelings and emotions that activate your behavior. You need to be able to recognize and tell yourself: ‘I’m angry,’ ‘I’m sad,’ ‘I’m disappointed,’ or ‘I’m happy,’” says Nathaniel. “Labeling emotions might be a bit of a struggle initially since we are used to pushing them down and moving past them. But doing that is a key to sustaining mental and emotional health and prosperity.

“Start the acknowledgement by stopping what you’re doing to sit in a quiet place and ask yourself, ‘What’s going on inside me?’ or ‘What do I feel?’ Then spend time labeling those feelings: Frustrated? Focused? Desperate? Brave? Determined? Abused? It’s simple enough but necessitates commitment and openness,” explains Nathaniel.

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2. Experience Your Emotions And Let Them Out

“Expressing emotions requires courage since we are trained to keep our feelings concealed. Otherwise, we might be ridiculed or humiliated,” says Nathaniel. “One of the best ways to create a safe space where you can let your emotional charge out is by working with a listening partner on a weekly basis. This person is a friend, partner, or family member you trust to allow you to express your emotions and think rationally about them. 

“When working with a listening partner, you split the time you have together evenly (so each of you gets, say, exactly 10 minutes to speak) and you agree to listen to each other without interruptions or judgement. Then choose who speaks first, talk about what pushes your buttons in life and notice any feelings that come up. (This is a great place to practice labeling feelings). If you feel the need to cry, laugh, yell, get mad, or have any other emotional discharge, just let it out.”

Letting your emotions out in front of another person can be scary. That’s why listening partnerships should be confidential. What happens in safe spaces, stays in safe spaces. This is crucial to building trust.

3. Eliminating Worrying From Your Life

“When worrying, you put yourself in a helpless state. You occupy yourself with something that hasn’t happened yet and might never happen. Things like agonizing about not having money if you lose your job or fretting over the possibility of getting sick if you keep eating junk food. Your mind and body are stressing about it and experiencing the moment as if the problem has already occurred. Your stress hormones are activated and affect your overall health,” notes Nathaniel.

“Worrying takes so much energy and time while leading to nowhere. Those thoughts about the unknown future are paralyzing you from doing something about it now. Worrying is an illusion of action and therefore, doesn’t serve you. You’re worrying instead of doing.

“The best antidote to worrying is taking action. If you’re afraid of losing your job, start looking for a new one. If you’re anxious about getting sick, change your diet to a healthy one. Ask yourself this question, ‘Is there anything I can do to achieve the desired outcome?’ If the answer is yes, act. If the answer is no, then worrying won’t help.”

Overwhelm can overtake your life if you let it. Follow these three steps to pull yourself out and get back control.

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