What to do When You’re Emotions Feel Out of Control


As a teen you may feel very emotional sometimes. You should know that the prefrontal cortex of your brain hasn’t fully developed. That’s the part of the brain that can keep a person logical, cautious, and rational. These traits in a person can help them make better decisions. However, being emotional can lead to being creative, visionary, and full of dreams. They are both necessary to live a full and meaningful life. Yet, as someone who is still growing physically, psychologically, and emotionally, this is a stage in life where you might err on the side of emotions and creativity.


But what happens if those emotions feel too intense or even out of control? What happens when you begin to feel as though you can’t stop crying or stop yourself from lashing out at someone?


One good thing to notice here is that if you’re already aware that you’re feeling out of control, then you have enough awareness to make a choice about it. In other words, some teens might feel their emotions and act spontaneously because of them. Yet, if you’re aware that you feel out of control, then you can do something about it!


In fact, the fastest way to move out of an intense emotional state is to become aware of one of your senses. In other words, become present of your surroundings. In his book, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness, Jon Kabat Zinn details how returning attention to the senses can immediately shift your experience. By smelling a scent, touching an object, or experiencing a bodily sensation, you remind yourself of the moment you are in versus an imaginary moment that may be the source of uncomfortable and challenging emotions.


So, teens, if you’re starting to feel out of control with your emotions, come back to the present moment. Notice what is around you. In fact, shifting your experience to the present moment through the use of your senses can be an incredibly healing practice. Of course, remembering to make this shift can be challenging, especially if you’re right in the middle of emotional intensity. But you can make returning to the present moment a regular practice for yourself, which will make remembering to do so easier when you’re right in the middle of feeling heavy emotions.


If you have a practice of deep breathing, meditation, and/or yoga, returning to the present moment won’t be as difficult to remember. You can also use other ways to relax such as listening to soft music from time to time, taking a break from technology, and slowing down. Having these slow, soft moments can facilitate returning to the present moment (returning to your senses), especially in those moments of emotional stress.


Also, you should know that learning how to manage your emotions is the same skill as learning how to manage stress in your life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by school, work, and/or your family or social life, then use the skills discussed above.


If you feel like your emotions are still too overwhelming, then talk to an adult you trust, a school counselor, or parent for support!