How To Survive The Emotional Turmoil Of Today’s Unprecedented Times

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It has been an undeniably intense year, and emotional turmoil seems to be everywhere.

Besides the COVID pandemic, it seems like there is an emotional epidemic affecting the world, as well.

The global emotional condition is hard to ignore. Regardless of your political affiliations, current health, and employment status, nothing feels stable right now.

It opens up a Pandora’s Box of emotions. Amid global chaos, it triggers emotions.

Amongst collective chaos, individual lives are fraught with emotional drama and grief.

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Everyone continues to experience the poignancy of aging, the grief of mortal illness, the ecstasy of childbirth, and all emotions contained within the spectrum between life and death.

You may experience a vast range of emotions — from anger, grief, rage, sorrow, and frustration with the happy times mixed in.

But you may not want to discuss happiness, for fear of feeling like you don’t have the right to experience joy, peacefulness, serenity, pride, amusement, or gratitude.

You may even feel guilty for being happy.

So, what can you do?

Here are 7 ways to survive the emotional turmoil of today's unprecedented times.

1. Rule out the serious obstacles.

There are many reasons for emotions, and some are serious. Those can’t be cured by merely managing them away. They may need medical intervention.

So, consider if there is an underlying medical condition causing extreme emotional duress.

Other causes include sleep deprivation and other poor health habits — like diet and exercise deficiencies — as well as PTSD and other severe trauma, including grief.

2. Be aware of your emotional triggers.

Chances are the emotional turmoil remains, even if there's no illness or other serious threat. What, then? It’s time to consider your emotional triggers.

You respond to distinct emotional triggers, but there are some that are typical to many people. And with the intensity happening in the world, multiple circumstances can trigger you.

Fear, insecurity, disapproval, and loss of control are common emotional triggers. There are many additional triggers, from rejection and betrayal to loss of independence.

But all relate back to what you value. Who are you and what do you stand for?

3. Ask yourself, "Who wouldn’t be emotional?"

In a time when everyone is restricted, who wouldn’t feel a loss of control? And when media outlets show natural disasters of fire, floods, and hurricanes destroying homes and habitats, isn’t it natural to be afraid?

If you're not socializing in your typical patterns, shouldn't you expect to feel insecure when you can’t connect with your friends and family?

Each of these scenarios threatens an aspect of what you individually and collectively value.

By paying attention to what triggers you to become upset, you'll begin to understand what you're afraid to lose.

You're afraid when you're threatened by what you value most being taken from you. And in a time of uncertainty, it can feel like everything is under threat.

So, what do you do about those swirling emotions that come out unpredictably?

4. Be aware of your hierarchy of needs.

Needs and values are entwined. And when your needs aren’t met, it’s difficult to respond to others’ needs in the way you might prefer.

Intellectually, you might want to respond to someone kindly or compassionately. But if you're not taken care of first, it’s very difficult and often impossible to think of the right words to say or actions to take.

The Maslow Hierarchy of Need states five levels everyone needs in order to ultimately self-actualize and to extend themselves to others.

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5. Know your needs.

The base level of needs are basic physiologic needs, like food, water, warmth, rest, safety, and security.

The second level concerns psychological needs of intimacy and relationships, self-esteem, and a sense of belonging and accomplishment.

And the top level is the self-actualization of achieving full potential, which incorporates creativity.

These levels don’t necessarily work as a staircase ascending progressively. Elements from each mix and meld.

Yet this year, many individuals aren’t meeting the levels they did in the past. Who wouldn’t be emotional?

6. Take control.

Even if there’s every reason to be emotional, it can still feel uncomfortable. Out of control expression of our feelings can cause actual damage to relationships and disappoint us.

Emotions are indications that you feel threatened. Taken too literally, you translate them into an immediate call to action and can quickly regret it.

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It’s understandable to feel angry when threatened, but if you immediately respond by yelling at your friends, you may regret it later.

Sometimes, it seems there's no appropriate outlet. Yet, emotions will find a release. And it’s not always an opportune one, unless directed.

Not expressing our emotions may give us the illusion of self-control, but it doesn’t lead us to feeling better or happier and more satisfied with our day and our life.

7. Move from emotional to inspirational.

Those same emotions can be inspirational, if you take the time to listen to them. When you discover what they trigger and why, you can more responsibly choose your response.

Many times, the response may be not to react. You may choose to recognize why you're angry and understand the reason without feeling the need to yell.

The reality is that no one can see into the future. You don’t have control over everything. The goal-oriented approach that may have worked so well for you in the past may not be the appropriate focus now.

So what is? That’s the question to ask yourself. And then take the time to listen. Tune in to your inner voice — your intuition — for the answers.

The answer is what leads you to what you need personally, as a community, and globally.

The answer won’t be the same for everyone, because it varies according to your individual values, just like your emotional triggers vary.

And here’s a bit of good news to go along with it.

The approaches you apply to erase your emotions are the same that allow you to hear your intuition.

Activities like meditation, exercise, journal writing, and contemplation all allow you to process emotions, while tuning in to your intuition.

By understanding what you value and when it's threatened, you can clearly see your triggers.

But these solutions will be the ones that bring you peace of mind in the midst of chaos, even if the world itself doesn’t seem peaceful.

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Jan L. Bowen is a passionately authentic thought leader who helps clients align their lives so they find more joy and greater connection through articulating and living their purpose. Jan is also the author of "Why Do You Get Up In the Morning? How to Demystify Your Life Purpose."

This article was originally published at janlbowen.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.