How to Cope with Emotional Overload During Lockdown

It's easy to succumb to an emotional overload. especially in these times. It can fill us with apathy - a mental haze in which our concentration fails and we become physically exhausted. Our emotions have a lot to tell us and we must take notice of them more than ever. So how can you cope with emotional overload during lockdown?
How to Cope with Emotional Overload During Lockdown
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Emotional overload during lockdown is a psychological reality that many people are experiencing. We can understand this as a saturation of feelings, thoughts, and sensations that result in mental and physical exhaustion. It’s an overwhelming experience that can intensify day by day if you don’t take adequate coping measures.

Carl Jung used to say that the human mind doesn’t oscillate between right and wrong but between sense and nonsense. This is true, especially in times of difficulty, crisis, and uncertainty, such as the current pandemic.

In these moments, it’s completely normal for your thoughts to be filled with fear. This fear is understandable but often clouds reality and makes you lose all hope.

If we add to this the constant flow of information, figures, and the uncertainties of the near future, you have a breeding ground where your anxiety levels will start to rise uncontrollably and control your life.

Feeling this chaotic haze of emotions that ruin your day is almost to be expected, but you must try to keep it under control as much as possible.

A worried man.

The symptoms of emotional overload during lockdown

Emotional overload during lockdown can have two origins. The first and most severe can arise from a traumatic experience, such as the loss of a family member to the coronavirus. The combination of emotions, suffering, and the obvious difficulty of grieving under the current circumstances increases this psychological reality.

This saturation of emotions is quite common among health professionals. Our health professionals are living on the front line of the effects of this pandemic. Therefore, in addition to the clear risk of emotional overload, they often suffer from compassion fatigue as well.

Likewise, emotional overload during lockdown can arise from a constant accumulation of smaller factors. Daily stress, worries that accumulate, and the days that always seem to be the same cause us to fall into this abyss. Let’s see what the symptoms are.

How do I know if I’m suffering from emotional overload?

  • You react disproportionately to common situations. For example, some people who come home after grocery shopping and can’t find their keys experience a sense of panic.
  • Difficulty concentrating and performing simple tasks are also common.
  • You find it difficult to have a normal conversation with family or friends. It’s as if others are on another wavelength and you feel misunderstood and even angry.
  • Emotions are always close to the surface. You feel like crying about anything, get angry about nothing, and apathy is always there and never allows you to enjoy anything.
  • One of the consequences of this emotional overload is physical tiredness. The exhaustion is so intense that sometimes you even wonder whether you might have caught COVID-19.
A worried man.

How can I handle the effects of emotional overload in the current situation?

Emotional overload during the pandemic warns you of something that’s quite obvious: your emotions are trying to speak to you and need your attention. Therefore, the goal isn’t to extinguish this emotional haze through denial or a logical approach where you say “I have to focus and control myself or I’ll lose my mind”.

This is no time to be hard on yourself. Emotions help you understand an experience. You’ve inherited them in your genes and you must accept and integrate them into your life. This is the only way you’ll be able to get through these difficult days successfully.

Acceptance and space for every emotion you feel

Don’t give in, don’t punish yourself, and don’t take any notice of that emotional mist. Visualize it as a ball of wool with several entangled colored threads. What you have to do is separate them one by one, identifying each one as you go. Ask yourself what you’re feeling. Is it sadness, anguish, fear, frustration, or maybe nostalgia?

Describe and create space for each feeling. Accept yourself for who you are, despite these emotions. Don’t criticize yourself for how you’re feeling. These emotions want you to take time to consider them and to do it with compassion.

Become aware of your emotional reasoning

One of the reasons why this emotional overload arises during the pandemic is because of the emotional reasoning you do about everything you hear, think, or see.

Here are just two examples of this:

  • If, when you read about all the infections and loss of life, you tell yourself that everything is getting worse, that there’s no way out, and that the pain and suffering will get worse and worse, you’re processing everything through the most negative emotions. This is something that you have to control.
  • And, secondly, if you repeat phrases such as “I can’t take this anxiety anymore”, then you’ll empower the emotional side of your brain – your amygdala – and you’ll only expect the worst.

You have to reduce your emotional filter’s powers. Imagine yourself at the door of your thoughts and act as a guard. Don’t let through any thoughts, ideas, or statements that worsen your perception of the whole situation and about yourself.

A man with his head in a cloud.

Time to disconnect, time for calm

We know that emotional overload during the pandemic is something that many of us may experience. That’s why it never hurts to take a few simple everyday survival tips into account.

  • Regulate your exposure to information.
  • Keep a journal of your emotions and thoughts – a logbook where you can make contact with your world.
  • Allow yourself peaceful moments when you can be calm and immerse yourself in pleasant activities. Activities that encourage rest and the flow of positive emotions.
  • Talk to people who know how to listen to you.
  • Think of your mind as a room. It must be ordered and light must enter every corner. You mustn’t allow any darkness there where emotions can be locked away or ignored.

To conclude, in complicated situations, you should never anticipate the worst and try to prepare for it. This formula doesn’t work and only increases anxiety and emotional overload.

In these circumstances, only one ingredient should always feed your thoughts, and that’s hope. We wish you the very best as you put these suggestions into practice!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.