How to Handle Feeling Emotionally Overwhelmed

We're all encouraged to drink enough water, eat healthy, brush our teeth, stay active and get enough sleep—factors that contribute to our physical health.

But much overlooked tends to be the incredible importance of maintaining our mental health. With so many outlying factors (school, work, environment and our relationships with others), it isn't possible to stay upbeat 100% of the time.

I know that for me, personally, even though I'm a generally happy person, I am nevertheless easily overwhelmed with anxiety, I'm a chronic worrier and sometimes it can be difficult to avoid getting bogged down with negativity, even though there are so many positive things I have going on in my life.

When I attended Philosophy's annual Hope and Grace luncheon at Fig & Olive in West Hollywood, California, I was inspired by the words of host Dawn McCoy and guest speaker Zelda Williams, the late Robin Williams' daughter. After attending the empowering event, it really got me thinking about how many people struggle with all sorts of mental health issues and how I'm not alone in my own dealings.

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Although there's no such thing as a quick fix to anything, there are multiple ways I've combated at least some of the stress that comes along with feeling really really low. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, below I'm listing 10 ways I deal with with feeling emotionally overwhelmed.

1. Dress to Impress

This can be a challenging task when feeling down in the dumps, but once you plow through and put yourself together, trust me, you'll instantly feel somewhat better. Even if you don't necessarily feel your best inside, looking your best subconsciously puts you in a better mood.

girl in dress studies at school library

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2. Take a Walk or a Peaceful Drive

There's something about the fresh air that does wonders for emotional turmoil. Whether it's taking a 20-minute walk to grab a coffee, or hopping in your car to take an aimless cruise to a different town, being exposed to the outdoors is quite freeing. Grab those headphones or turn up your speakers and let the music lead your way.

Girl listening to music with headphones on and arms stretched out wide

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3. Reach Out to a Trustworthy Friend or Loved One and Plan a Time to Meet Up

Nothing makes me feel at ease quite like meeting up with someone I wholeheartedly trust and who I know has my best interests at heart entirely. Being completely honest with a friend or loved one and telling them you're going through a hard time and just need someone to talk to is like free therapy. They know you so well and they probably understand how you're feeling and what to say to make you feel better. Don't feel embarrassed to straight-up say you just want someone to listen to you. A true friend will never judge.

friends in agony over fighting

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4. Blog or Journal

Having a creative outlet does wonders for the mind. Again, it can be hard to put a pen to paper (or words to a page) when you're feeling down and unmotivated to write, but once you start, you'll find your thoughts will pour out super easily. Whether it's a journal page to express gratitude or to list things that are setting you off, or it's a blog post about any given topic you feel like sharing with the world, there's a sense of accomplishment and reflection you'll feel when you write.

Girl Journaling in Fall

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5. Get a Good Night's Sleep

Okay, this one seems like a given, but it truly does make a difference when you get a good night's sleep. If you're getting bogged down with your thoughts as you're trying to slumber, seriously focus on your breathing—it works! Just keep telling yourself to focus on breathing and you'll be on your way to sleep. Don't check social media before bed, don't do anything that can only intensify or clutter your current state of mind.

girl looks comfy as she sleeps in bed

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6. Remind Yourself That Much of What You're Feeling Is in Your Head and Not Real

It's been said that worry is the most useless emotion, and quite frankly, that may be true. Instead of thinking about what could happen or how someone might feel about you or what someone might be doing, remind yourself that it's all hypothetical and that you should live in the moment. Sure, there will be things that have already happened that stress us out, but focus on moving forward and what you can do to be your best self.

stressed brunette girl looks sad

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7. Work Out

Another seemingly obvious one, but working out even slightly not only helps sweat out toxins, but it also releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. And of course, working out gets you in shape, and feeling good about your body can greatly contribute to feeling better about yourself overall.

Girl sitting on the floor with workout gear

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8. Avoid People or Situations That Can Enhance Your Stress

There are people we may absolutely adore, but for one reason or another, they may contribute stress into our lives. During trying times, keep your distance from anyone who can tamper with your mood. On that same token, avoid any situations that could also increase stress. If you're not feeling up for that birthday party and you know it will do more harm than good to attend, politely decline and take the friend out for lunch one-on-one at a later date. For now, focus on yourself and enjoy some me time.


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9. Take a Bath or Shower

Bathing is obviously so common for us that we tend to not truly appreciate its value. Completely rinsing yourself can feel like you're temporarily cleansing yourself of the day, or the emotions that you've experienced prior. It's such a refreshing feeling, and when you actually view it as an emotional cleansing and not just a physical cleansing, you'll learn to experience it in a whole new light!

Girl washing hair in shower

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10. Accept How You're Feeling and Don't Be Afraid to Cry

Crying is quite therapeutic, and there's nothing wrong with letting out your emotions in that way. Accepting how you feel and facing it head-on is going to get your through it more than bottling everything up. Crying is natural, and so are emotions. There's no point in denying how you feel.

girl is crying with tissues on her bed

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