5 Things To Do When Emotions Overwhelm You

You know when you have one of those days when emotions overwhelm you? They can be scary days, can’t they be?

Fortunately there are ways to get through those emotional days without totally falling apart. It takes a little bit of attention and effort but if you are willing to do the work it will prevent those breakdowns that leave you exhausted and spent and unable to function.

So what do you do when emotions overwhelm you?

#1 – Breathe.

The first, and most important, thing to do when emotions overwhelm you is to BREATHE. I know it seems simple and obvious but it isn’t.

Most of us, when put into an emotional situation, forget to breathe. You know when you are driving past an 18-wheeler on the highway? You are gripping the steering wheel super tight and hoping that you won’t get smooshed between the truck and the guardrail. When in that spot, most people hold their breath. Next time, try taking a deep breath as you pass the truck. You will see how much easier it is when you do.

When emotions overwhelm you pause and take a deep breath. Put your hand on your tummy and breathe in for a count of three, filling up your belly as you do, and then release for a count of three. Do this repeatedly until you feel calmer.

The benefits of deep breathing are significant. Deep breathing slows your heart rate and improves your cognitive functioning so that you can think more clearly. And thinking more clearly will allow you to deal with those emotions.

#2 – Identify the emotions.

The next important thing to do, after you have taken a few deep breaths, is to identify what exactly you are feeling.

Are you feeling sadness? Anxiety? Anger? Fear? All of those are emotions that manifest themselves differently in each person and, if you know what emotion is overwhelming you, it will be easier to manage it.

Last year, at my daughter’s graduation, I learned that my ex was bringing his new wife and her family down to NYC for a big post graduation celebration. I flipped out. My heart started beating and my thoughts were racing. I wanted to pick up the phone and yell at him. Or break something.

After some deep breaths I asked myself what exactly I was feeling. Why was I reacting this way? And then I realized: I was jealous. Jealous that I couldn’t give my daughter some big family graduation celebration and that she would be having one with my ex’s family. I was very, very jealous.

And you know what? I was surprised that that was how I was feeling. But knowing that jealousy was the emotion overwhelming me changed everything for me.

First of all, there was a huge sense of relief naming my emotion. When the feeling was just some random anger and hurt I didn’t know what to do with it. Once I knew it was jealousy I was able to process that jealousy. I knew that it was okay that I was jealous. Who wouldn’t be? And knowing that it was okay that I was jealous, and that I was not some woman still bitter about her divorce, helped me process those emotions quickly.

#3 – Feel Them.

I remember the morning after my mom died. Her husband was walking around the house muttering to himself Get over it. Stop being so sad. The day after my mom died.

Emotions are hard to feel. They are painful and confusing and scary. But it is important that we allow ourself to feel them. If we stuff them down, cover them with beer or food or drugs, then we will never be able to learn to deal with them and they will just come roaring back, bigger and fiercer than ever.

So if you are scared to feel those feelings that you have when emotions overwhelm you it’s okay. But fight through that fear and feel those emotions. It will help you let go of them.

#4 – Process them.

So you have done your deep breathing, you have recognized your emotions and you have felt them deeply in your body. What’s next?

Processing your emotions. I know!  It’s easier said than done, but it’s very important that you do.

For me, knowing that I was jealous allowed me to ask myself why I was jealous. To figure out the source of the jealousy. For me it was that my kids had a new family, one that I wasn’t a part of. That made me very jealous and very sad. And, to be honest, a little bit angry.

But I knew what it was and was able to tell my kids what I was feeling. They got it and were relieved that their mom wasn’t still bitter about their dad but feeling some genuine, completely understandable emotions.

The same situation has happened again, more than once, and it has been much easier for me to process because I know exactly what emotion is happening and why.

#5 – Let them go.

The final piece to dealing when emotions overwhelm you is to let your feelings go.

Holding onto emotions that overwhelm you is not good for you on many levels.

Holding a grudge or keeping a feeling inside can cause physical illness. It can cause constant bitterness and anger, which isn’t good for your mental health. It can make you unpleasant to be around which could chase your friends away.

So feel your feelings. Process them. And then let them go. It’s okay if they come back but if they do they won’t be as powerful because you will know what to do to handle them.

Knowing what to do when your emotions overwhelm you can be very difficult in the moment. It is hard to think clearly when you are angry or sad or exhausted or hurt.

If you do nothing else on this list, just remember to breathe. If you do you will go a long way towards regulating those emotions and not letting them get the best of you.

And when your heartbeat calms down and your head clears after you breathe, you just might find the others steps easier to manage.

Imagine what it would feel like to not hold onto those overwhelming emotions. Pretty amazing, right?




Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Super Effective Ways to Survive a Broken Heart

I remember so well my first broken heart. It was 9th grade and Bobby Fortunato, the guy of my dreams, had just broken up with me. We had been going out for two whole weeks. My mom took pity on me and let me stay home in bed and eat jello. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Truly, there might be nothing worse than a broken heart. The pain, both in your heart and in your head, is almost unbearable. The end of a relationship is like a death… you grieve for your loss and you feel a huge emptiness, one that you are sure you will never again be able to fill.

I am here to tell you there are ways to get through your grief not only intact but even better than you were before.

Here are my 5 Super Effective Ways to Survive a Broken Heart.

#1 – Shut down the pain.

Most likely your body is in physical pain, the result of psychological suffering. And the most likely center point of that pain is your stomach. The pain is sharp and relentless and makes you feel like you are going to die.

That pain is from anxiety. Anxiety that you are less than, that you will never love again, that you will be alone, that you are unlovable. That pain comes directly from your brain, from your thoughts. Not so helpful, right?

There are two ways to deal with that pain.

The first: talk back to that brain of yours.

Tell it that it is being ridiculous. That you are amazing, that this loss will only create new opportunities, that you aren’t now, nor ever will you be, alone. It’s not easy but you can do it.

Say those words OUT LOUD. Speaking words out loud, instead of keeping them in our head, releases the words into the world energetically which makes them more powerful. Try it. It’s true.

The second: remember to breathe.

Big deep breaths that go down to your belly. Breathe in for 3 seconds and out for 4. This kind of breathing will actually calm the stress response in your body, ease your stomach pain and help clear your head. Repeat as necessary.

#2 – Manage your media.

This is a key element in grief management. You have music, you have video, you have social media. USE THEM FOR GOOD. They will get you out of your head and inspire you to be powerful.

I make a playlist when I am going through hard times. The songs are about empowerment, about survival, about living life fully. They go on my I-phone and then get played in my car as I go about my day. And yes, I sing along. Loudly.

Movies work the same way. There are so many movies out there about overcoming the odds, getting through hard times and emerging better than before. Find them. Watch them. Be inspired by them. Even cry with them (yes, crying is okay. even good. sometimes great. but don’t wallow).

Be careful with social media. Yes, it is a great tool for feeling connected and distracted but if you have a tendency to stalk, and it causes you pain, then tread lightly. YouTube might be better than Facebook…or so my teenage daughter tells me.

#3 – Do Good.

Nothing feels better than helping out someone in need. Helping out someone else while you are at your lowest feels even better, believe it or not.

When you are grieving it is really easy to turn inside yourself, to feel like you are in the worst place a person could be. And while where you are does suck, there are others out there who are as just as bad off or worse. And by helping them you are also helping yourself.

There are plenty of ways to help out. You can help an elderly neighbor mow their lawn, you can volunteer at a library and help children learn to read. Hospitals are always in need of people to help in a variety of capacities. I worked in palliative care for a while. Boy, did that give me some perspective and appreciation of the life I was living.

Pick one. Do it. See how good it makes you feel and make someone else feel better in the process.

Want to talk more about fixing your broken heart? Let’s do it!

#4 – Get hot.

Yes, you read that right. Get hot.

Exercise is one of the best ways to manage grief. During exercise your body produces endorphins and endorphins actually make you feel better. And, as a side benefit, exercise also gets you in shape.

Imagine having the body that you have always wanted – you know what body I am talking about. Now is the time to get it. Start exercising to help manage your grief and use it to get in great shape and to feel better about yourself.

And, while it’s not about revenge, let your ex eat his heart out when next he sees you!

#5 – Don’t stop believing in love.

Yes, right now your heart is broken. You just can’t imagine being able to get through this day or the next. You know that you will never love or be loved again. Sigh.

No! You have to believe. You have to believe that your great love is out there. That you are more than a little loveable and that what you are going through is only temporary. Think about what you want and work on truly believing that you will get it. And then take the steps to do so. You can do it!

And, if you are feeling hot and full of self confidence from all that exercise and surviving your grief, imagine what that special someone will think when they first lay eyes on you. WOW!

Now that’s a great place for your pesky brain to go, don’t you think?

So there you go… my 5 Super Effective Ways to Survive a Broken Heart.

Your world seems like it is over but it’s not. Use my coping techniques and not only will you get through today and tomorrow in one piece but you will build the strength of body and character that will ultimately help you achieve your dreams and find the love of your life.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Ways to Thrive in the Face of Change – Even If You Just Want to Run Screaming

Change. You either love it or you hate it.

Many people hate it. The prospect of a new job, moving to a new house, leaving a relationship or buying a new car can make those who resist change want to run for the hills.

I love change.

I have spent much of my life changing things up. I have lived in San Francisco, Maine, Tokyo, Athens, Boulder, Vermont, Sydney and NYC. Since I graduated from college I have lived in 17 different homes and have worked in the hotel business, the food industry, retail management, real estate sales and now I am a life coach. I have been divorced and lived through my kids going off to college.

I am the person I am today because of opportunities for change that were presented to me throughout my life, ones I chose to pursue. And I love the person who I am today.

They say that people who choose change are happier for it. The process can be messy but once you get through it life just might be what you have always wanted it to be.

I am here today to help you get through that change, so that you can live the life of your dreams.

Here it is, my latest. 5 Ways to Thrive in the Face of Change – Even If You Just Want to Run Screaming.

#1 – Don’t forget to breathe.

When presented with the possibility of change many people freeze up. The prospect is so terrifying that their body actually reacts as it would if faced with the specter of death. And then they run, run for their lives, from that change.

This is when it’s important to remember to breathe. Without breath neither your brain nor your heart can function and making rational choices is impossible.

Think about when you drive by a tractor-trailer on the highway. It’s a scary prospect and you start thinking of all the things that can go wrong. And you hold your breath in anticipation of those things. Next time, try taking a deep breath right before you pass that truck. The breath will calm your body and clear your mind and you will pass it with ease.

It’s the same with change. Try it now. Inhale for 3 seconds, out for 5. Repeat as needed. Your heartbeat will slow and your mind will clear. Very helpful.

#2 – Remember change is GOOD.

Many people are so unaccustomed to change that the prospect seems unbearable. This new thing is going to come in and shake up their lives and they don’t think they can survive it.

But this just isn’t true. We can survive anything. And research shows that most people who make a big change are happier on the other side. Happier. Sounds pretty good, right?

Think about a time earlier in your life when you faced major change. Now think about how you went about it and what the end result was. Was your life ultimately a better place because of that change? Even if things were really messy along the way? Think carefully.

The process can be difficult, and we will address that, but picture yourself on the other side of that change. Life will be different, yes. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

#3 – Gather information.

One of the most important pieces of thriving in the face of change is the gathering of information. It is impossible to make a smart move without the right information.

It’s time to make a list – a list of all of the positive things and all of the challenging things about your potential change.

If you are moving will it mean a bigger house? Better weather? A longer drive to school or work? An acre lawn to mow?

If it’s a new job will it be better hours or pay? Will the dress code be challenging? Will your boss be someone much younger than you?

Once you have your list of your perceived pluses and minuses address each minus individually.

A smaller house might seem a minus but really a smaller house means less house to clean which would give you more time to do something fun instead.

A younger boss might seem a minus but really a younger boss could teach you some new skills for the ever-evolving workplace. And the fact that you are older could mean built in respect because of the years of working experience you bring to the table.

For every one thing that seems like negative there is a corresponding positive. You just need to identify what those things are. Once you do you will feel ready to face real, substantial change.

#4 – No negative self talk.

We are our own worst enemies. In the face of change our brains tell us that we just can’t do it. That we aren’t smart enough or strong enough or that the change will destroy us.

Again, this just isn’t true.

I have a client who has been given an amazing job opportunity. It has been literally placed at her feet and is hers for the taking. And she is struggling to accept it.

She thinks two things:

  1. That people will judge her for changing jobs AGAIN after just two years in her current position.
  2. That she will fail.

I asked her what she would think if she heard of someone switching jobs after 2 years. She said she would think “Wow. That person is really moving up in the world. She is being recognized for her successes. Good for her.”

I asked her to list for me all the reasons that she would fail. Try as she might she couldn’t name one reason. Her brain had been telling her that she would but she couldn’t prove to me that what her brain was saying was true.

Again, our brains can make us our own worst enemies. Recognize that and talk back to that brain. Don’t let it and it’s pesky untruths hold you back.

#5 – Get excited about the possibilities.

Take a good look at that list that you made. Of all of the possibilities that your future holds.

Change is a scary thing but really it is also so exciting. You get a chance to do things differently, to re-invent yourself, to maybe experience things that you haven’t before.

The first steps will most likely be difficult, and scary, but once you get started the sky is the limit. It’s like starting out on a hiking trail and looking up. You wonder how the hell will you get up to the top. And then, when you do, after a fair amount of huffing and puffing, it’s just amazing. The sky is blue and you can see forever. And looking down you can see how far you have come and feel pretty damn proud of yourself.

So there you go. 5 Ways to Thrive in the Face of Change.

I am not saying that the prospect of change isn’t scary and overwhelming. It is scary and will be overwhelming. What I am saying is to embrace it, to look at it as a positive thing even if your first reaction is “not so much.”

In my last blog I wrote about getting divorced. A friend of mine said he was jealous. How lucky was I that I was getting a chance for a reboot at 46 years old. And that’s what I got. The reboot itself was rather painful but I was given a new beginning and my life is now amazing. Truly.

I wish this kind of happiness on everyone I know and love. Take a risk. It will be worth it!

Are you struggling with change in your life? Contact me. I can help!

Have you survived and thrived in the face of change? I would love to hear your story!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Ways to Stay Calm in the Middle of Chaos – Even if Losing It Seems Inevitable

Ok. It’s bedtime. You know the drill. Homework is being wrapped up, teeth are being brushed, the next day’s school clothes are being chosen, lost books are being retrieved, that last text message is being sent.

And everybody is calmly taking care of their business as you supervise from your easy chair, right? NOT!

Bedtime is chaos. Getting off to school is chaos. Doing homework and making dinner is chaos. Your life is chaos.

Sometimes it’s hard to stay patient in the middle of it all.

There are ways to manage the chaos without breaking down and screaming, something that might make you feel better in the moment but is rarely a good motivator. And something you always regret.

Here are my ideas for 5 Ways for Moms to Stay Calm in the Middle of Chaos – Even if Losing It Seems Inevitable. I will use bedtime as an example to work from.

#1 – Stay aware.

Bedtime, is chaotic, jam-packed, and exhausting. Every night. It’s just the nature of the beast. If you go into it remembering that it is chaotic, jam-packed and exhausting then you will have a better chance of managing it without losing it.

Before it begins, take a minute for yourself (or more if you have it). Take a deep breath. Have a cup of tea. Whatever it will take to get your calm on, go for it.

If you enter into a situation already stressed out, having just finished a work call or throwing the dishes in the dishwasher, chances are that you will break much quicker than if you go in calm.

#2 – Ask for help!

There are usually two grown ups in the house at bedtime. Don’t try to do it all yourself. It’s something that us moms try to do. Everything. And it usually doesn’t end well.

Divide and conquer. Each of you take a child. Or one person manage teeth brushing while the other helps pack up homework. Define your tasks clearly so that everyone knows their job and sticks to it.

And don’t let the kids play you off each other. Remember that you are a team and that you are bigger than those little people who are trying to run all over you.

#3 – Declare if you are escalating.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep my feelings of frustration bottled up, allowing them to slowly build until I erupt with loud, ugly words. My kids then look at me like I am crazy because they had no idea how the night was getting to me.

Let your kids know if you start to escalate. I use a 10 point scale: 1 being calm and 10 being at the edge. “Hey kids,” I say, “Mom is at a 5. Can we please calm down and get into bed.”

This lets the kids know that your frustration is mounting so that perhaps they can tweak their behaviors to prevent the eruption of Mt. Mom.

#4 – Take a deep breath.

Next time you drive by an 18-wheeler on the highway notice what you are doing. Chances are you are holding your breath. And gripping the steering wheel very tightly. It’s tension filled, those few seconds you inch past them. And your body reacts.

Next time you drive by an 18-wheeler take a deep breath. You will immediately feel yourself relaxing, your hands unclenching. You will get by that truck without missing a beat.

Take the above action and apply it to chaotic times. Take a deep breath. Repeat as necessary. It is sure to calm you down.

#5 – Visualize what is next.

One of the best ways to get through a chaotic situation is to visualize the prize at the end of the chaos. Bedtime is no exception.

When the bedtime routine is over good things wait for you on the other side. Time with your spouse. Another episode of “House of Cards.” A bath. Looking in on your beautiful sleeping children. YOUR BED.

As you feel your frustration growing, picture what is on the other side. And know that if you stay calm the chaos will probably subside quicker and you will get to your prize.

So there you are: 5 Ways to Stay Calm in the Middle of Chaos – Even if Losing It Seems Inevitable.

Our lives are chaotic, jam-packed and crazy. And chances are they aren’t going to change until your kids go off to college and you are left alone in an empty house (but that is a whole ‘nother topic).

The best way to get through the chaos with your hair and sanity intact is to learn to manage it. And you can do it. Think of all of the chaotic things you have survived already. This is just one more. You CAN DO IT.

Looking for more coping tips to get through your crazy life? I can help. Contact me now and we can get your started down the path to living the life of your dreams.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!