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Have you ever felt numb in the middle of a conversation? Or when you were simply checking out groceries at the cash counter and felt like you couldn’t move? Feeling numb is your mind’s reaction to protect you from depression, feeling hurt, anxiety, or a strong negative emotion. Honestly, experiencing this feeling is far from enjoyable, and all you desire is to escape it as quickly as possible.

So, how do you get over this? How do you feel emotions again and not be afraid of them? First, you need to find what’s causing you to feel numb, then you create a mental note of activities that can distract you and turn them into a habit. Next time you start feeling numb, your mind will kick in with that habit and keep you from feeling those negative emotions fully.

Here are 7 emotional regulation tips for when you feel stressed: 

1. Find and identify with these feelings

First off, it’s totally okay to feel stressed. The difference lies in finding out what’s causing you stress and knowing that will right away offer you some calm. Here’s an exercise to get things started – every time you feel numb or overly emotional, think how it makes you feel in every part of the body. Start with your forehead, eyes, shoulder, chest, and so on. Then, find ways to overcome those feelings.  

2. Don’t shame yourself

Shame or embarrassment are one of the first emotions we feel when anything goes wrong. But if you judge yourself right now, you’ll just push these emotions to the side, let them pile up, and then have a big outburst. Exercise self-compassion, take deep breaths, and feel those emotions out. 

3. Keep a journal to track your emotions

Take pointers from the first two tips and write your emotions down in a journal. Refer to it from time to time to track progress and look back when you doubt yourself. Journaling is also a way to express feelings. Don’t limit yourself to just words. Add stickers, make drawings in the margin, and you have a new favourite therapeutic activity. 

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4. Engage in a physical activity 

Physical activity is not just about getting in shape; it’s about giving your mind a break too. When you’re physically active, your body releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that can lift your mood. You don’t have to run a marathon. A brisk walk, a dance session in your room, or a quick yoga flow can do wonders.

5. Stay away from caffeine and sugar 

While it’s tempting to reach for a sugary snack or an extra cup of coffee when you’re feeling low, these can actually make stress worse in the long run. The first few minutes you might feel energetic and motivated but later you’ll feel anxious and jittery. 

6. Practice mindfulness meditation 

Mindfulness meditation is about living in the moment and being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgement. It can help you calm your mind and reduce stress. YouTube has a wonderful collection of guided meditation videos or you can download apps on your phone for better tracking. 

7. Consider online psychotherapy 

Sometimes, talking to a professional can help you organise emotions and find coping strategies without trial and error. Online psychotherapy is available in Ontario, which is a convenient way to access therapy from a trained mental health professional while staying in your comfort zone. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Help is always available. 

Stress, extreme emotions, and depressing thoughts can all be overwhelming. Remember, it’s all about taking small steps towards understanding and caring for your mental well-being. You’ve got this!

Jennifer Pinto

Have you ever felt numb in the middle of a conversation? Or when you were simply checking out groceries at the cash counter and felt like you couldn’t move? Feeling numb is your mind’s reaction to protect you from depression, feeling hurt, anxiety, or a strong negative emotion. Honestly, experiencing this feeling is far from…

Hi, I am Jennifer Pinto. I am a registered Social Worker and obtained my Masters' Degree from University of Toronto in 2010 with a specialization in Children and Families. I also completed an Honors BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from York University in 2003.

For more than 20 years I've worked with various populations and different settings ranging from pediatric healthcare, mental health community agencies and education systems.

https://jenniferpintopsychotherapy.ca/