Handling extreme emotions during stressful times.

06 Apr 2020
by Kate Blundell

When something as distressing and unexpected as the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, the emotional reactions we have can be extremely unpleasant, frightening, and often overwhelming.

When we identify and normalise our emotional reactions, we empower ourselves to formulate action plans in order to take back control of our mental wellbeing. It’s important to understand that the immensity of the effects of COVID-19 can have the ability to present and manifest themselves in ways in which we may find difficult to understand or deal with. You might be wondering:  

  • Why am I constantly feeling on edge? 
  • Why am I crying for no apparent reason? 
  • Why have I lost my appetite? 
  • Why am I overeating? 
  • Why do I feel so unmotivated?

It’s only when we recognise these emotions and acknowledge that they are completely reasonable and common reactions to an unprecedented event, that we can then normalise our feelings in order to take back control of our psychological health. Here are the ways in which we can achieve this:

Recognise and acknowledge your emotions

Identify them, write them down, discuss them with a partner or friend. Feelings function like a pressure cooker and pressure increases without release. Often our defense mechanisms work to hide our emotions from consciousness, and it can be difficult to reveal them to ourselves and subsequently, to others.

Normalise your feelings

Take notice if you start judging what you feel. At one time or another, it might seem as though we are alone in our feelings and that our emotions are abnormal or erratic. You might think that you’re ‘acting crazy’ or even be ashamed of how you’re feeling. The simple fact of the matter is that - be it from biological, situational, or environmental factors - we all react to stressors in different ways, and no one way is the ‘correct’ way to feel. When we recognise this, we normalise our emotions and thereby empower ourselves to take control and make a plan for the betterment of our mental health in the future.

Take back control and devise your action plan

There are so many ways in which we can begin to take back our psychological resilience. When we make plans to change harmful habits or cycles, we can regain control of our wellbeing. We are choosing to take action; we are the driver of change. Here are a few actions we can take to combat the extreme levels of emotion we might be feeling during COVID-19 or other challenging times:

  1. Keep active! Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on our emotional wellbeing. It can help to reduce emotional stress, improve your mood and your quality of sleep.
  2. Try staying away from the news for a while. Of course, it’s important to check in with any government updates, but a constant intake of bad news can have a harmful and detrimental effect on our mental health. 
  3. Set yourself goals. This doesn’t mean you need to take on major tasks like learning a new language. Setting yourself small, realistic goals can be a great distraction whilst you're in isolation and you’ll feel a great sense of fulfillment once they are accomplished. For example, you might like to plan your next adventure for a time after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
  4. Try meditation. It’s no secret that the benefits of meditation are prolific when it comes to mental health. Increased awareness, clarity and improved focus are just a few and there are so many meditation resources available out there.
  5. Keep a diary. Writing your thoughts and feelings down can help you prioritise your fears and concerns. It doesn’t have to be every single day, but journaling every so often has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression, enhance your sense of wellbeing and boost your overall mood.

Take the first steps to reveal yourself to an empathic professional. Book your My Mirror session today and take back control of your emotional wellbeing.


If you are feeling suicidal or are in crisis call 000 (AU) or use these resources to get immediate help.