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Coping with Overwhelming Feelings

Welcome to the module on coping with overwhelming feelings. This module is designed to teach you skills and help you create an individualized coping plan for the next time you become overwhelmed.
by

Megan Guinn

on 23 September 2015

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Transcript of Coping with Overwhelming Feelings

How do you typically deal with overwhelming feelings?
Skills presented here are best for situations when you can't make things better right away
Self-Soothing
Improve the
Moment

Emotion-focused
Coping
Typically best when there ISN'T an accessible solution to the problem:
Attending to basic needs (eating, sleeping, avoiding drugs)
Soothing emotions (crisis survival strategies, coping skills)
Planning
Ahead

Distraction
A wise mind ACCEPTS
Coping with
Overwhelming Feelings

Problem-focused
Coping
Typically best when there is an accessible solution to the problem:
Time management, prioritizing
Conflict management
Communication skills
Grounding
Activity
A
C
C
E
P
T
S
Activities:
Exercise. Do a hobby. Clean something. Go to an event. Call or visit a friend. Play computer games. Go for a walk. Work on something. Play a sport. Go out for coffee or a snack. Go fishing. Garden. Make art.
Contributing:
Contribute to someone. Volunteer. Give something to someone else. Make something nice for someone else. Do a surprising, thoughtful thing.
Comparisons:
Compare yourself to people coping the same as you or less well than you. Compare yourself to those less fortunate. Watch soap operas; read about disasters or others' suffering. It helps to see outside of ourselves and our situations.
Opposite Emotions:
Be sure the event creates different emotions.
Read emotional books, stories, or old letters.
Go see an emotional movie. Listen to emotional music. Ideas: scary movies or romantic comedies, joke books, funny records, inspirational music, funny greeting cards.
Pushing Away:
Push the situation away by leaving it for a while. Leave the situation mentally. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation.

Or push the situation away by blocking it in your mind. Censor ruminating. Refuse to think about the painful aspects of the situation. Put the pain on a shelf, or box it up in your mind, and put it away for a while.
Other Thoughts:
Count to 10. Count colors in a painting. Count trees or ceiling tiles. Work puzzles. Watch TV. Read something.
Other Sensations:
Hold ice in your hand. Squeeze a rubber ball very hard. Push against a wall. Stand under a very hard and hot shower. Listen to loud music. Have sex. Put a rubber band on your wrist, pull out, and let go.
*Jot down an idea from each category
Vision.
Buy a beautiful flower. Make your space pretty or organized. Light a candle and watch the flame. Go to an art museum. Look at nature around you. Go out and watch the stars. Walk around a pretty part of town. Paint your nails. Look at pictures. Watch TV. Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you, not lingering on any.
Hearing.
Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or music that is invigorating and exciting. Pay attention to the sounds of nature. Sing to your favorite song. Hum a soothing tune. Play an instrument. Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.
Taste.
Have a good meal. Have a soothing drink, such as tea or hot chocolate. Treat yourself to a dessert. Sample flavors at an ice cream store. Suck on a piece of peppermint candy. Chew your favorite gum. Really taste the food your eat; eat one thing mindfully.
Touch.
Pet your dog or cat. Get into comfortable clothing. Put clean sheets on your bed. Take a bubble bath. Soak your feet. Get or give a massage. Put a cold compress on your forehead. Sink into a really comfortable chair. Hug someone. Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.
Smell.
Use your favorite scent or lotion. Spray fragrance in the air. Light a scented candle. Bake cookies, cake, or bread. Smell flowers. Walk in a wooded area and mindfully breathe in the fresh smells of nature.
* Jot down an idea from each sense.
I
M
P
R
O
V
E
Imagery.
Imagine relaxing scenes. Imagine a secret room within yourself.
Go to these places whenever you feel threatened. Imagine painful emotions draining out of you like water out of a pipe.
Meaning.
Find or create some purpose, meaning, or value in the pain. Remember, listen to, or read about spiritual values. Focus on whatever positive aspects of a painful situation you can find.
Prayer.
Open your heart to a supreme being, greater wisdom, universe, God, your own wise mind. Ask for strength to bear the pain in this moment. Turn things over to this greater source.
Relaxation.
Tense and relax each large muscle group, starting with your hands, going to the top of your head, and then working down. Exercise. Take a hot bath. Breathe deeply.
One thing.
Focus your entire attention on just one thing in the moment, on just what you are doing right now. Put your mind in the present. Do awareness exercises. Visit calm.com
Vacation.
Give yourself a brief vacation. Do something you enjoy for 20 minutes. Get out of town. Make your favorite treat, and eat it slowly. Unplug your phone for a day. Take a
1-hour breather from your work.
Encouragement.
Cheerlead yourself. Positive self-talk: I will survive this. I am
doing the best that I can.
Repeat.
Find a comfortable, seated position.
Take several deep breaths. And begin.
Name 2 things you can smell right now.
Name 1 good thing
about yourself.
Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.
Name 4 things you can feel right now.
Name 3 things you can hear right now.
Grab a piece of paper.
Follow the prompts.

Planning ahead means you won't even have to think about what to do next time you feel overwhelmed.
Jot down 2-3
options.
If you found this
helpful, add it to
your plan!
Resources & References
If you want more information about coping with overwhelming feelings or want to get connected to our services:
Come in person to either of our locations:
Monroe Park Campus
University Student Commons, Room 238
907 Floyd Ave.
(804) 828-6200

MCV Campus
Grant House, B011
1008 East Clay St.
(804) 828-3964
After Hours Emergency - Please call VCU Police dispatcher:
(804) 828-1234 and ask to speak to a counselor.
From
Skills Training Manual
by Marsha Linehan. © 1993 The Guilford Press.
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