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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Why Am I So Emotional? 9 Hidden Reasons

Why Am I So Emotional? 9 Hidden Reasons

Humans are fleshy bags of emotions. We feel happy when good things happen, get angry when things don’t go our way, and sob when something sad happens.

Sometimes we get so excited we find ourselves hopping around like bunnies.

These different emotions and our ability to feel them are what make us human. Our sensitivity levels and the way we express our emotions, however, differ.

This is the reason some people are considered more emotional than others.

After you express your emotions more intensely than you should, you may find yourself asking questions.

“Why am I so emotional? Why do I cry or get angry over the littlest things? Why do I react to events more intensely than others do?” Below are some of the reasons why this could be so.

1. You Are Only Human

If a loved one dies or you lose something very important to you, becoming emotional is only normal.

If you find out you’re the only one crying or that you’re mourning longer than everyone else, it doesn’t mean you’re overreacting or that you’re strange.

Simply remind yourself that humans are different. Hence, we also grieve differently. The fact that others aren’t crying or outwardly showing how they feel doesn’t mean they are not feeling the same thing you are.

Also, if your emotions do not obstruct your day-to-day activities, it could simply be that you are more sensitive than others.

It could also be that at that moment, your emotions are heightened due to a variety of factors like lack of sleep or stress.

As long as your emotions are not disrupting your life or the life of someone else, you shouldn’t let it deter you. You are just being human.

2. Your Genetics

Having emotions is natural, but if you have people telling you that you are too emotional or you personally feel like you are too emotional, it could be the result of your genetic components.

Some studies have proven that gene variation can cause your brain to be more sensitive to emotions.

Genes like serotonin transporter (the sensitivity gene), dopamine genes, and the emotional vividness gene can trigger heightened activity in certain parts of the brain.

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This, in turn, increases your emotional response and sensitivity to your environment.

Also, if you have a family member with a disorder such as depression or anxiety, there is a chance of you inheriting the affective disorder. Should you want to figure out why you get so emotional, you can check your genes.

3. You Aren’t Getting Sufficient Rest

We all know a lack of sufficient sleep can make one very grouchy.

Imagine after hours spent working late into the night, you finally climb into bed, only to hear your alarm clock ring three hours later, telling you to go back to work.

The first thing on your mind might be to fling your alarm clock across the room or punch your pillow. The feeling of anger or frustration you wake up with can be easily triggered by little things, making you irritable all day.

If you go on for days or weeks with too little sleep, it can also affect your concentration levels, increase the risks of anxiety and depression, and weaken your physical balance.

And with weakened balance, you may find yourself stumbling and running into people or objects – which no doubt will fan the flames of your foul mood.

Good rest gives you a better rein on your emotions. When you are well-rested, you wake up feeling content; hence, your tolerance for negative emotions will be higher.

Without sufficient rest, your tolerance will be lower, causing you to yell or cry over little things.

Read about how to get better rest: Sleep Hack: A Simple Strategy for Better Rest in Less Time

4. You Isolate Yourself

Constantly keeping to yourself and staying away from people/events can cause you to be overly emotional.

Sure, having alone time is great and can be rejuvenating. But when you constantly seclude yourself, it dampens your spirits. It can be demoralizing and can make you cagey.

But when you surround yourself with people, even occasionally, it fills you with excitement. It occupies your mind and takes it away from your worries and troubles.

You also learn to expect different characteristics and types of people, and you learn the best ways to deal with them.

Being around people can get you well accustomed to kind people, gentle people, stubborn people, and mean people.

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Over time, you will learn to ignore the negative people and to keep your emotions in check when you’re around them.

Staying secluded, on the other hand, gives you lots of time to dwell on your troubles. You could spend hours thinking of the things going wrong in your life and getting depressed or anxious over them.

Also, when you’re always alone, you won’t learn to build up your defense against negative people or situations. The smallest provocation could have you breathing fire or sobbing.

Lastly, when you stay alone for too long, you can get lonely. Loneliness is a negative feeling that can make you overly emotional.

5. Poor Diet

The next time you ask yourself “why am I so emotional?” try reviewing your diet. The food you consume or neglect can directly affect your emotions.

For example, you might love eating junk food like ice cream and chocolates. While eating these might be enjoyable at the time, the happy feeling will not last.

The joy and excitement you feel while eating junk food are often due to a sugar rush, and this rush is only temporary. Afterward, you might feel guilty or angry –especially if you are on a diet and it’s not a cheat day.

This feeling of guilt can easily be triggered into something more intense if afterward, you receive unpleasant news or something else goes wrong.

Eating healthy food like fruits, proteins, and vegetables will keep you pleased with yourself at all times. Hence, there will be no guilty or shameful feeling after a meal.

6. You’re Undergoing Major Life Changes

While change is constant in life, there are people who are not open to it. There is a chance that you are one of them. Change can be good and pleasing. It can also be abrupt and unsettling.

And when you constantly feel like the ground has been pulled from beneath your feet, it can make your emotions uncontrollable.

Some common major life changes include relocation, marriage, divorce, childbirth, losing a job, getting a new job, losing a loved one, and so on.

These life changes often come with an underlying vulnerability that heightens your emotions.

When something good happens, you feel happier than usual because you are pleased something good has come out of an uncomfortable situation.

But if something bad happens, your sadness or anger will be more intense because you feel so unstable.

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So if you’ve just undergone some major life change, don’t fret about being overly emotional. Take the feelings as they come (but be careful not to do anything harmful in the process).

In a few weeks or months, when you start adapting to your situation, you will feel more in control of your emotions once again.

7. You Are Stressed

Stress is one major reason people get very emotional. It takes a toll on a person’s physical and mental state. And when you already feel mentally drained, little discomforts here and there can heighten your emotions.

For example, someone could return stressed from work and want nothing more than to climb into bed, only to realize their toddler has poured milk all over the kitchen. So, the person promptly bursts into tears.

On any other day, they might hurriedly pick up a mop and tidy up the place, then scold the child a little. But on a stressful day, their anger or sadness over their child’s actions will be heightened.

Mental and physical stress happens from time to time and has an often temporary effect, but chronic stress can have a permanent effect on a person.

This is why a once calm parent who has two more kids and has to work extra hard every day to provide for their family can quickly become an impatient, irritable person.

If your stress isn’t likely to go away any time soon, check out How to Stay Calm and Cool When You’re Extremely Stressed

8. You’re Grieving

Grieving the loss of someone or something very close to you can heighten your emotions intensely.

So, if your emotions get heightened whenever you see or hear anything that reminds you of the person you’ve lost, know that it’s normal.

Also, if weeks after you’ve lost someone, you react strongly to everything, know that is normal, too. All you need to do is be patient with yourself and give time the reins to ease your grief.

Grief doesn’t only happen when someone you care about dies. You can also grieve after a breakup, an opportunity you missed, or even a mistake you made.

Remember that we all grieve differently, so don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you’re crying longer than everyone else.

9. You’re Traumatized

Trauma is one common reason people get overly emotional. It is often a subconscious response to a horrible event that led to physical or mental harm.

These experiences trigger negative emotions such as fear, anger, terror, guilt, sadness, and shame – sometimes months or even years after the event.

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Traumatic experiences such as accidents, sexual assaults, physical assaults, kidnapping and so on, can lead to enhanced emotions.

Traumatic flashbacks are often triggered by places, faces, names, and objects that remind you of the events. These flashbacks can often lead to overly emotional behavior.

If you have experienced a trauma, you are not alone. There are resources out there for you. Try starting with: How to Overcome a Trauma and Be Even Stronger Than Before

Is it Bad to Be Emotional?

The effect your emotions have on you and the people around you is what determines whether they are good or bad.

If you hurt yourself or others whenever you get sad or angry, then the fact that you are emotional is bad, and you must learn to control it.

Also, if whenever something good happens, you get too happy or excited and find yourself saying things you shouldn’t, you should learn to control it.

But, if your emotional state is not harmful to you or anyone else, then there is nothing wrong with being emotional.

In this case, being emotional gives you the freedom of self-expression. It stops you from suppressing your feelings or suffering in silence.

Also, if your emotions are not in any way harmful, being emotional makes it easier for people to relate with you!

The Bottom Line

As an emotional person, it might be worth it to ask, “Why am I so emotional?” Knowing the reason your feelings are often heightened can help you learn to control them.

If your emotional state is due to a lack of proper diet or exercise, you can work on those. And if it’s due to grief or a major life change, you can give yourself time to heal and adjust.

Ultimately, so long as your emotional state does not make you do things you will regret, being emotional is nothing to be ashamed of. It only means you are human!

Featured photo credit: Ryan Moreno via unsplash.com

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Jacqueline T. Hill

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Published on April 9, 2021

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

Mindfulness has become a popular buzzword in the health and wellness industry. However, few people truly understand what it is. My aim here is to teach you what mindfulness is and how it helps your mental wellness. By the end of this article, you will understand the meaning and benefits of mindfulness. Additionally, you will develop the ability to integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is approximately 2500-years-old with deep roots in the Eastern world as a spiritual, ethical, and philosophical practice. These roots are intimately connected to the Buddhist practice of vipassana meditation.[1]

Mindfulness continues to be practiced as a cultural and spiritual tradition in many parts of the world. For Buddhists, it offers an ethical and moral code of conduct. For many, mindfulness is more than a practice—it is a way of life.[2]

However, mindfulness has evolved in the Western world and has become a non-religious practice for wellbeing. The evolution began around 1979 when Jon-Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).[3] Since then, mindfulness has emerged in the health and wellness industry and continues to evolve.

It is important to recognize the distinctions between mindfulness as a clinical practice and mindfulness as a cultural practice. The focus of this article is on the clinical model of mindfulness developed in the West.

Many researchers have integrated aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness into clinical psychiatry and psychology. Buddhism has helped to inform many mental health theories and therapies. However, the ethical and moral codes of conduct that drive Buddhist practices are no longer integrated into the mindfulness practices most-often taught in the Western world.[4] Therefore, Western mindfulness is often a non-spiritual practice for mental wellness.

Mindfulness aims to cultivate present moment awareness both within the body and the environment.[5] However, awareness is only the first element. Non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment is essential for true mindfulness to occur. Thoughts and feelings are explored without an emphasis on right, wrong, past, or future.

The only necessary condition for mindfulness to occur is non-judgmental acceptance and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It does not need to be complex even though structured programs exist.

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How Mindfulness Helps Your Mental Wellness

Along with MBSR, other models have been developed and adapted for use by clinical counselors, psychologists, and therapists. These include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).[6]

Structured models of mindfulness allow researchers to study its benefits. Research has uncovered an abundance of benefits including mental, physical, cognitive, and spiritual. The following is not a comprehensive list of all its benefits, but it will begin to uncover how mindfulness helps mental wellness.

Benefits on Your Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness can have positive impacts on mental health. It has been positively associated with desirable traits, such as:

  • Autonomy
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Competence
  • Empathy
  • Optimism

Mindfulness helps to improve self-esteem, increase life satisfaction and enhance self-compassion. It is associated with pleasant emotions and mood. Overall, people who practice this appear to be happier and experience more joy in life. Not only does it increase happiness but it may also ward off negativity.

Mindfulness helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and regulate emotions. For example, it may decrease fear, stress, worry, anger, and anxiety. It also helps to reduce rumination, which is a repetition of negative thoughts in the mind.

MBSR was originally designed to treat chronic pain. It has since evolved to include the treatment of anxiety and depression. Clinical studies have shown that MBSR is linked with:

  • Reduced chronic pain and improved quality of life
  • Decreased risk of relapse in depression
  • Reduced negative thinking in anxiety disorders
  • Prevention of major depressive disorders
  • Reducing substance-use frequency and cravings

However, more research is needed before these clinical studies can be generalized to the public. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence to suggest MBSR may be beneficial for mental health.[7]

Benefits on Your Cognitive Health

Mindfulness has many important benefits for cognitive health as well. In a study of college students, mindfulness increased performance in attention and persistence. Another study found that individuals who practice it have increased cognitive flexibility. A brain scan found increased thickness in areas of the brain related to attention, interception, and sensory processing.[8]

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To explain this another way, practicing mindfulness can improve the ability to shift from one task to the next, increase attention span and increase awareness of bodily sensations and the environment. Therefore, it has the potential to literally change your brain for the better.

Harvard researchers are also interested in studies of the brain and mindfulness. One researcher studied how brain changes are sustained even when individuals are not engaged in mindfulness. Their research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the moments of mindfulness.[9]

Another study found that the benefits of mindfulness training lasted up to five years. In this particular case, individuals participating in mindfulness activities showed increased attention-span. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase problem-solving and decrease mind wandering.[10]

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. However, most practices include these elements:

  • An object to focus awareness on (breath, body, thoughts, sounds)
  • Awareness of the present moment
  • Openness to experience whatever comes up
  • Acceptance that the mind will wander
  • The intention to return awareness to the object of focus whenever the mind wanders

A practice that encompasses these elements is typically called mindfulness meditation. Most mindfulness meditations will be practiced between 5 to 50 minutes, per day.[11]

There is truly no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Most mindfulness meditations are done seated with an object of focus related to the breath, body, thoughts, emotions, or sounds. However, daily activities such as walking or eating can be practiced as a form of mindfulness meditation, as long as the aforementioned elements are in place.

Four Mindfulness Meditations and Their Benefits

Not all forms of mindfulness are created equal. Each practice has unique goals, structure, and benefits. The following four mindfulness meditations are linked with improved mental wellness related to vitality, happiness, and attention.

The results come from a study designed to explore the benefits of these four practices. All of these stem from traditional Buddhist practices.[12]

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1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness is a form of meditation that focuses on sending love and compassion to others. It may begin with kindness for the self and extend outward towards close family and friends, communities, nations, and the world. Loving-kindness may even involve sending love and compassion towards enemies.

The study found that eight-weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of closeness to others. However, it did not reduce negative feelings towards enemies. Additionally, one week of loving-kindness mixed with compassion training increased the amount of positive feelings participants experienced.[13]

2. Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is a practice where the focus remains on the breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, the attention is brought back to the breath.

In many different mindfulness and yoga practices, specific breathing (pranayama) practices are taught. However, for beginners, simple diaphragmatic breathing that focuses on each inhale and exhale is sufficient.

The effects of breathing meditation relate to attention. Breathing meditation is linked to changes in the way information is processed. Buddhist monks who practiced breathing meditation were able to process a greater amount of information than monks who practiced compassion meditation.

3. Body Scan Meditation

A body scan is as simple as it sounds. Attention is brought to each part of the body. Participants can choose to start from the top of the head or the bottom of the feet. It can be helpful to imagine a warmth or a color spreading from one body part to the next as each part begins to relax.

When body scan and breathing are combined, there are many benefits. Interoceptive sensitivity is the mind’s ability to focus on bodily cues. It is strengthened by body scanning. Body scanning also helps with attention and focus.[14]

4. Observing Thoughts Meditation

In observing thoughts meditation, the focus is on the thoughts. This is an opportunity to practice non-judgmental observation. It is also a practice of non-attachment.

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Within the study, participants practiced structured observation of thoughts. First, they brought their attention to their thoughts and labeled them within several categories: past, present, future, self, or others. Then, they practiced observing their thoughts without an emotional reaction.[15]

The benefits of this practice were robust. First, participants showed great improvement in the ability to observe their thoughts without judgment. Second, the practice greatly reduced rumination. As a result, participants had fewer emotional reactions to their thoughts and developed greater self-awareness around their thinking patterns.

In summary, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The choice may be determined by the benefits each practice offers. For example, body scanning can increase bodily awareness. Thought-observation can increase self-awareness and decrease rumination. Regardless, every practice may increase positivity, energy, and focus.[16]

Considerations Before You Begin Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is still a relatively new concept in clinical research. Critics worry that its benefits have been overstated. There is also concern that the Western world has changed it into something most Buddhists would not recognize.[17]

Mindfulness is a state of mind that builds self-awareness. As a result, it may force individuals to face difficult emotions, memories, and thoughts. In a study of long-term, intense mindfulness practices, 60% of participants reported at least one negative outcome. Some cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[18]

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Mindfulness offering promising results but there are also risks involved. Working with a therapist may be a great way to start a mindfulness practice while monitoring for risk.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness is a powerful practice that has deep roots in Buddhism. It is a practice of present-moment awareness, acceptance of the present moment, and non-judgment of thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.

It has many benefits that may increase mental wellness. However, there are also some risks to consider. Overall, you should consider your unique profile before beginning a practice or consider working with a therapist at the start.

More About Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[2] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[3] Greater Good Magazine: What is Mindfulness?
[4] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[5] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[6] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[7] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology
[8] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[9] The Harvard Gazette: When Science Meets Mindfulness
[10] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[11] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[12] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[13] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[14] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[15] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[16] Greater Good Magazine: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
[17] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?
[18] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?

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