11/05/2015 07:51 BST | Updated 08/05/2016 06:59 BST

Emotions. Love Them or Hate Them. Just Don't Let Them Burn You Out!

Love them or hate them, emotions (thankfully) are ours for life. But what about those times when emotions pile up, become totally disorganised, overwhelming, and burdensome. Leave them like that long enough and you may begin to feel overwhelmed by certain emotions or, at the other end of the continuum, become numb to your feelings, in other words you begin to emotionally burnout.

Unravelling all of the emotions associated with times of tremendous challenge, stress, or pressure can feel complicated or impossible.

We have an easier way of unravelling what can seem like a myriad of sometimes vague, and often convoluted, emotions. You see, the majority of emotions we experience in response to stress and pressure usually have something to do with four general emotional themes. Let's look at them:

Frustration: Frustration happens in response to something or someone getting in the way of our basic needs or achieving something we want. The stress and frustration we feel becomes painful when we feel powerless to change the situation. How do you recognise frustration? It is usually experienced as some degree of irritation or anger and makes you want to push to make something happen. You feel stuck, stopped, or blocked.

Uncertainty: You know when you just cannot put your finger on it, but something just feels 'off' or 'wrong'? That's uncertainty and it could mean that you are under the type of stress that suggests possible threat, loss, harm, or frustration, but you can't be sure. Humans don't do overly well with uncertainty, so it is a sure bet that if this is what you are feeling your stress level is high.

Threat: Doesn't matter if the threat you feel is real, perceived, or (if you choose to call it so) imagined. When under threat emotions go through the roof and we respond with aggression or fear. Could be a physical threat, or a psychological threat to our sense of self and self-worth.

Loss: The emotions of loss can overwhelm even the strongest coping systems. Sadness, grief, depression, emptiness, and anxiety can colour our world when we experience actual or anticipated loss of someone or something that is significant to us. Being emotionally burned-out from feelings associated with loss can leave us feeling devastated and broken.

Instead of getting lost in what can feel like an emotional house of mirrors, look for the basic four emotional themes propping up your stress.


• If you are prone to experiencing frustration, look for pockets of calm and places where you can gain a sense of control.

• If you are prone to uncertainty, look for what you do know and are sure of.

• If you are prone to perceiving threat, look for where you are powerful.

• If you are prone to perceiving loss, look for what you are gaining.

Stress multiplied creates a threat to your physical well-being as well as your emotional well-being. Understanding these four emotional themes helps you unlock the sometimes mysterious world of your emotions before emotional burnout becomes a reality.