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How to Get Over Your Emotional Hangover

"We often get stuck on the feeling of being overwhelmed. We think it means we are broken. But in reality, we're simply being human." Adewale Ademuyiwa

Emotions can be like wild horses. They are strong and they demand attention.

When you are overwhelmed by negative emotions, it can seem that no matter how much energy you invest, you still cannot tame them. When they are angry, when they are sad, and when they are afraid, it is very hard to find a way to quiet them down.

Emotional hangovers can take those feelings and amplify them to such a degree that you find it almost impossible to move on from them.

In this article...

I’ll explain why emotional hangovers can be so overpowering, and I’ll show you the simple steps you can follow to break through and move on from the draining experience.

But first...

What are emotional hangovers?

An emotional hangover is a painful emotional reaction to an upsetting event.

Emotional events, such as an argument with a loved one or a loss of a job, can leave you with an emotional hangover.

Sometimes even a small emotional experience like disappointment or frustration can leave you with a lingering bad mood.

Emotional hangovers can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, anger, and/or loneliness.

A vivid example of an (anxiety-based) emotional hangover

"I would like to give you a forward warning..."

My client, Tina (Not real name) said as we started her session.

"This is going to be a really crappy session."

"Why?" I asked...

Tina replied...

"I had a really crappy week and was dying to get my feelings out. So if you're not up for it today, feel free to bail now!"

You see, Tina went through some traumatic experiences years ago, that left her constantly feeling vulnerable and anxious. So much so that she struggled to go places or even hang around the people who were close to her.

Last week, Tina had a dental emergency which meant that she had to bottle up all her dread and face so many strangers. It was either that or she would have to live with the permanent damages to her teeth and gum.

Right up until that point, Tina had been managing to go out for daily walks, She had been mingling with people. Was now managing to hang around some of her friends for a few hours, where she could have only managed 20 minutes before.

But that day, visiting the dentist was so threatening, that she had to take a sedative.

The whole week after, Tina lost all confidence in herself. She could not cope with any visit from her friends. She turned down every invite from her family. And the thought of getting into a car with anyone made her feel like she could vomit.

This was the most paralysed Tina had felt by anxiety in a long time.

Tina was waking up frozen solid in panic attacks which just made her feel like a broken person like her mind was too broken to recover or get anywhere.

She felt like a failure.

Now here are some other forms of emotional hangovers that you might be able to relate to.

Other examples of emotional hangovers include?

1) With stress: Your emotional hangover, could be linked to a work-related issue.

You get stressed at work and find yourself spending hours dwelling on the issue. Your brain then starts to overwork and you start to feel tired, stressed and unwell.

So much so that you have to make lots of visits to the bathroom to avoid breaking down in front of people.

2) With sadness: The emotional hangover, is a result of a relationship break-up. You may be feeling a mixture of shock and grief.

This can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness. Your brain will be in overdrive, thinking of ways you can make it up to your ex, but these thoughts can only make you sadder.

You will be spending time regretting the past and thinking about the future. This is a downward spiral that you.

3) With anxiety: When we are anxious, our brains tend to overcompensate and it can end up feeling like we are being pulled in multiple directions at once.

We are aware of ourselves and our surroundings but our brain does not get the message that it is safe to let go and relax.

You may start to feel anxious and unable to think clearly. Your brain is racing from one thought to another and it takes a lot of effort to catch up.

4) With anger: Anger is a strong emotion and can lead to some intense emotional hangovers. If you get angry, you might feel:

• Angry about what happened to you.

• Angry with others for doing things that make you angry.

• Angry about how others treat you.

• Angry with yourself for taking things out on someone else.
And this can last for days... Even weeks.

13 Common signs that you might be experiencing an emotional hangover?

Some of these symptoms will last for days. Some even weeks.

1. You have no energy. You are lethargic. You feel tired all the time. And you crave sleep.

2. You have trouble concentrating. You feel like you have tunnel vision. You may be having trouble finishing tasks. Or you might be having memory problems.

3. You feel irritable and frustrated. You have a short temper. You might be angry a lot. Or you might be having outbursts of rage.

4. You are experiencing low self-esteem. You might be having thoughts of self-doubt. And you might feel ashamed of yourself.

5. You have trouble controlling your emotions. You might be crying uncontrollably. Or you may be feeling overwhelmed by your feelings.

6. You are having problems with your appetite. You are eating too much or not eating enough.

7. You are having trouble sleeping. You might be tossing and turning, or you might have insomnia.

8. You are experiencing mental fatigue. You feel like you cannot focus. And you lose track of what you are doing.

9. You are thinking negatively about yourself. You might be blaming yourself for the problems you are experiencing. Or you may have thoughts of self-loathing.

10. You are experiencing frequent headaches. You might be having migraines or sinus headaches.

10. You are having trouble getting along with others. You may be experiencing arguments with family and friends. Or you might be experiencing interpersonal difficulties.

12. You are feeling isolated. You may feel as though no one understands what you are going through.

13. You are having trouble sleeping. You might be having trouble falling asleep, or you might have trouble staying asleep.


The best way to cope with emotional hangovers

Your best asset for overcoming emotional hangovers is your mindset.

I'll elaborate...

A few months ago, I started trying to do my morning walks for exercise.

I used the word "trying" because I had put on so much weight, that walking for 10 mins was causing me a huge amount of pain.

Initially, I just barely manage 2000 steps which took about 15 mins.

Now, last week Thursday, I managed for the first time in years to do 8000 steps
which took about an hour and a half.

Now today, I did 11,700 steps and this took me two hours.

When I got home this morning, my body ached like hell. I had been almost sleeping whilst walking. My feet were killing me. I felt so unhealthy becaus I felt pain all over.

Now here is the big mindset question...

Does the fact that I felt soo much pain mean I have failed at my efforts to be healthier?

Heck no!!

I made a huge effort that my body is now like "wow dang, ouch, I did a lot"!

But if I was healthy, I shouldn't feel this much pain, should I?

I used to be able to walk for 5 hours with no pain. Now I can't even do two hours without feeling like I am totally dead!

"Perhaps it is an age thing... I've grown older."

But there are loads of people my age who can run for two hours easy!

I can barely walk it!

Can you see how this mindset can twist you around and wear you down?

You can get locked in the same type of mindset when dealing with emotional hangovers. And sadly, this naturally piles more stress on you, thereby slowing down the speed of recovery.

So one way to combat this is to remember why your journey with emotional difficulties started in the first place.

Book a consultation with Adewale

Mindset tool 1: Remind yourself that you did not cause your emotional problems (It was not on purpose)

The truth is that due to whatever circumstance, you've slipped into a problem place.

For me, It was because I got my dream job... Working for myself and doing only hours I wanted. Which meant I could relax and have an easy life.

But that easy life has paid me back with bucket loads of weight and pain. Because my easy job did not require me to move at all.

Relating this back to you, how would you say your journey with anxiety, stress or depression began?

Perhaps you had a traumatic experience... This left you with a lot of vulnerable feelings. But you didn't know what was wrong. So you just ignored it and went "easy on things."

Or you tried your best to analyse your problems and now you can't stop overthinking.

Maybe you thought whatever symptoms you were having is stress-related so you slowed down and started skipping social things.

And you started going out for less, You started taking the bus right to your stop instead of stopping at the shopping mall near you and walking home with your lunch.

Bottom line, you reacted to your situation the best way you knew how to at the time.

Who would have thought easing up on stress could cause you so much anxiety and emotional pain

Mindset tool 2: Remind yourself that you are not your emotions

Anxiety and depression both have a way of leaving emotional residue on your subconscious mind and can make it hard to get over them.

You might start to feel like you are going through the same feelings every time you experience negative emotions. This can create emotional resistance to positive feelings and leave you feeling emotionally drained.

The more you are unable to connect to positive feelings, the more you feel defined by your emotions. It is like you are stuck in an emotional rut, and your emotions hold all of your beliefs about yourself.

When this happens, it is important to recognise that you are not your emotions. You are a whole person, and emotions are just one part of who you are. The most effective way to get over your emotional hangover is to learn to love yourself, even when you feel depressed or anxious.

Learn to be kind to yourself, understand that you deserve to be happy and feel good about yourself. You deserve to have loving relationships and to enjoy life, so you need to give yourself permission to feel happy, without letting your emotions control you.

It is possible to break this cycle of self-sabotage, but it is a process that takes time.

Mindset tool 3: Remember to do all you can to replenish yourself

Our emotional brain needs all the support we can muster when it comes to our emotional hangover. This is the period of time after an intense experience of negative emotions when you feel drained and unable to focus on anything.

At times the brain needs to go into "hibernation mode" and shut down for an extended period of time. 

But like we have already this shutdown process and other symptoms of an emotional hangover are actually to your advantage because you need this rest period to recover and get back to feeling good. So it is important to do all you can to ensure you are rested, refreshed and ready to face the challenges of life again.

To help speed up your replenishment, you can try doing the following...
1) Avoid self-criticism: Being self-critical can take a toll on your emotional energy levels and it is important that you avoid it at all costs.

Instead, use your self-compassion to help you come out of your emotional hangover.

2) Use all your senses:

Try using all your senses and focus on your surroundings. For example, use your imagination to visualize a beautiful place or imagine someone you love.

3) Do something kind for yourself:

Doing something kind for yourself is a great way to replenish your energy levels and feel better.

4) Take a long hot bath:

Taking a long hot bath in the evening is a perfect way to recharge your batteries and relax.

5) Eat healthy food:

Eating healthy foods is an easy way to replenish your energy levels and boost your mood.

6) Connect with nature:

Take a walk outside, sit by a beautiful stream or watch the sunset.

7) Exercise:

Exercising regularly is an effective way to rejuvenate the body and release pent-up stress.

8) Write about it:

Writing about your feelings can help you come to terms with them, and allow you to explore your thoughts without judgment.

9) Connect with the deepness of nature: An anxiety-provoking situation is an ideal time to connect with the deepness of nature and your own inner strength. Spend some time in nature, even if it is only for 5 minutes each day.

10) Give yourself time to process what you just went through:

Give yourself some time to process the emotional impact of what happened. For example, spend 5 minutes writing down what you think, feel and how it makes you feel.

Mindset tool 4: Remind yourself that you are in a better place despite how you are feeling right now

A core problem with an emotional hangover is that it forces you to believe you are back at square one. It may even make you believe that you are now worse off than where you were before.

And sadly, if you believe this lie, this mindset will literally drag you back down and destroy a lot of the work you have done already.

Going back to my walking example. The truth is that I could not walk 10 mins without being in pain and now I can walk 2 hours before feeling pain.

That is definitely a better place.

The pain I feel is the burn after a good workout.

In fact, the pain I felt when I was still doing 10 mins walk was also a better place.

It was better because I was no longer sitting and doing nothing about my weight and pain problem.

It did not "feel" better at the time, but it was certainly better! Because without that first move, I would not be doing two-hour walks today.

Ironically,  today I feel like I am back to feeling pain literally if I stand up and walk for just 3 minutes. LOL!

Relating this back to you...

If you have not been able to spend time with people at all, And now spending 10 to 20 mins with just one person who is close to you feels draining.  You are definitely in a better place.

If you were not able to cope with being at work previously, but now a day at work is wiping you out so easily... You are definitely in a better place.

If you have been doing exposure work and have managed to feel able to go out and about and be around people. But now,  all of a sudden, the thought of facing anyone makes you want to vomit... You are definitely still in a better place.


Because the pain you are feeling is the burn after a good emotional workout.

But if you conclude that the pain you are feeling after your emotional workout is proof that you are failing at coping, that conclusion will discourage you and take the fight out of you.

Instead of thinking this...
Remind yourself that you are pretty much walking 11, 000 steps in your mind every day. That's why you have an emotional hangover.

Just like my body just wants to crash today as soon as I walked in from my walk. I did not even want to talk to my wife or kids because I feel so exhausted and in so much pain.

Remind yourself that your body is "NOT" struggling because you are a failure...
Your body will naturally struggle when you go beyond the threshold of emotional pain you are currently used to.



Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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