Humans are emotional beings. We are affected by our environment, by the flux and flow of life, by the decisions we make, and how those decisions, in turn, make us feel.
Our mental health is also affected by these things, which can cause our emotions to spike.
Sometimes, our emotions feel stronger or hit harder than usual. When we are highly sensitive, we can feel like a water bucket is covering our head or that we just can’t pull ourselves together.
These intense emotions can be overwhelming, especially when we are not sure how to properly calm ourselves down.
If you feel more sensitive than everyone else, you may be left wondering, “Why am I so emotional?”
One answer to this question may be that you are a highly sensitive person (HSP).
What is a highly sensitive person (HSP)?
It is suggested that around 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive.
Highly sensitive people process and reflect emotions deeper than the average person. Because of this, you may find it harder to regulate your emotions or get a grip on your mental health.
You may even use avoidance techniques to get away from triggering situations, such as not watching movies that could cause you to get anxious and cry or preferring to stay away from loud noises, crowds, or strong smells.
Those who are highly sensitive are often seen as overactive. Those around them are not used to such heightened emotions; therefore, they label it as odd or abnormal to react in such a way.
However, highly sensitive people are just more in tune with how they feel than the average person. It’s not bad to be extra emotional, and it’s just not as common.
Is being emotional a weakness?
No, being emotional is not a weakness.
From a young age, we are taught to cast shame on those who are emotional. Our society praises people who are completely held together or the “calm, cool and collected” type.
However, those who are emotional are just experiencing and reacting to life. It’s okay to feel things physically as long as our emotions are not harming ourselves or anyone around us.
Reasons you may be feeling emotional
Whether you are highly sensitive or not, it’s important to understand where your overwhelming emotions are coming from and what may be heightening them.
Here are a few reasons you might be feeling overly emotional:
1. High-stress environment
The body sometimes reacts emotionally when undergoing stress.
When you feel burnt out from work or problems at home, it’s normal to want to break down and let out your feelings with a good cry.
Excessive amounts of stress can affect us physically, as well. It can take a toll on the body, therefore causing us to react negatively, such as feelings of inadequacy, sadness, anxiety, or depression.
If you are experiencing a lot of stress, you may be wondering why you feel so emotional, but it’s just a way of coping with the effects stress has on the body and mental state.
2. Grief or trauma
The loss of a family member, an accident, or an illness can also cause emotional distress.
Grief is a complex emotion for even the strongest of minds to process, so it’s normal to feel extra sensitive after a traumatic event has happened in your life.
It’s important to give yourself time to feel these emotions and work through them. Shutting them down will only make the healing process harder.
We all grieve differently, so don’t think that being overly emotional in reaction to grief or trauma is wrong or bad.
3. Lack of sleep
Sleep affects our mental state more than we realize.
For example, our schedule for the week may leave us with less time to sleep than normal.
Nevertheless, we keep trucking on, drinking an extra cup of coffee, and hoping for the best.
After a while, the caffeine fades away, and we are left with a headache, so we put off a few tasks for tomorrow.
When it’s time to rest, we toss and turn, thinking of everything that we put off that is now piled up and waiting for us the next day.
With a consistent lack of sleep, we can often feel irritable and cranky, therefore reacting to stressful situations in a more intense fashion.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to a lack of concentration and higher anxiety, so when we show up to work that next day, we still cannot do our job properly.
This snowball effect of emotions may lead us to feel more sensitive, therefore reacting to the stressful situations we are put in a little more intensely than normal.
It’s incredibly important to get adequate amounts of rest in order to control our negative emotions.
4. Poor diet
When we are emotional, we can tend to reach for a fast, sugary thing to sate ourselves.
There’s nothing like winding down with a bowl of ice cream while you watch TV after a stressful day, but that sugary treat can often make your emotional state worse, not better.
If you feel better when eating sweets, it’s often because of the sugar rush it gives. That heightened rush can affect mood, but we are often left feeling worse than we did before when the sugar rush fades away.
It’s important to make sure you are fueling your body with healthy, balanced meals to combat the headaches and anxiety that you might feel when your emotions are heightened.
This will keep you from feeling bad, or shameful, or indulging in an unhealthy meal afterward.
5. Lack of exercise
In addition to a balanced diet, exercise can also play a major factor in mental health.
When we exercise, happy endorphins are released that help us think clearly, positively, and efficiently.
When we don’t get up and move our bodies, we can become trapped in a sedative state, therefore giving way to negative emotions and bad moods.
Additionally, exercise is good for the body as well. Extended periods of no exercise can lead to worsening health conditions, therefore putting more stress on us and affecting our emotional capabilities at a higher rate.
6. Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety can make us feel emotional, as well.
Those with depression often feel intense negative emotions that keep them from accomplishing daily tasks and regulating their moods. In addition to sadness, they may also feel lost or hopeless.
If you feel depression is the cause of your emotional state, it’s important to seek help. Try reaching out to an understanding therapist for professional advice on how to regulate your emotions.
7. Big life changes
Change can be great, but it can also be scary, especially for those of us who are comfortable within our established routines.
Something such as transferring to a new location for a job, moving house, or starting a relationship with a new partner can add both positives and negatives to our mood.
These changes can make you feel vulnerable or like your world is being turned upside down on its head, leading to a higher emotional state.
8. Hormonal imbalances
Hormones affect both the body and the mind. Any hormonal imbalance can affect our emotions and how well we can regulate them.
Below are a few examples of hormonal imbalances:
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, causes levels of estrogen and progesterone in women to spike before and during their menstrual cycle. This can lead to heightened emotions, as well as a number of physical symptoms.
Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause changes in mood.
An overactive thyroid (also known as hyperthyroidism) can cause various emotions, including irritability, anxiety, and restlessness. Whereas, an underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism) can lead to depression.
Both conditions are accompanied by physical attributes as well, so it’s important to visit your healthcare provider if you think your thyroid is the cause of your emotional state.
Menopause is a change the body goes through when it can no longer conceive. Menstrual periods also stop during this time. A person who is going through menopause can experience mood swings and other hormonal fluctuations.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the body produces higher male hormones. PCOS can cause weight gain, facial hair growth, and irregular menstrual cycles in women that experience it.
These can be incredibly distressing symptoms to understand, which can lead to fluctuations in the emotional state.
Birth control stunts the normal production of the body’s hormones to stop ovulation and potential pregnancy. Doses contain small amounts of sex hormones, estrogen and progestin, which can calm the menstrual cycle’s physical symptoms and not the emotional ones.
With this imbalance, many women report birth control as one of the major causes of their emotional imbalance.
The premenstrual dysmorphic disorder has links to PMS, but its emotional symptoms are more severe. It can cause irritability, anger, depression, and anxiety the week before the menstrual period starts.
9. You are human
Everyone will be affected by a period of sadness, disappointment, or anger at some point.
Know that it’s okay to experience these feelings and allow them to come to the forefront.
Each person processes their emotions differently, so it’s normal to feel more sensitive for a day or two if you’re going through a hard time.
When those emotions follow you across your day-to-day activities and prevent you from accomplishing them is when they are worth being more concerned about.
How to process your emotions
Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons why we may be so emotional, it’s time to see what we can do about better regulating these emotions when we experience them.
Again, it’s important to remember that each person is different. What works for you may not work for your friends or family, and vice versa.
It takes time and practice and maybe even a little bit of professional help to completely understand emotions and how to deal with them effectively.
1. Accept them
Of course, everyone gets emotional from time to time. If you are going through something, such as losing someone close to you, it’s only natural for you to release those emotions to heal.
Remember, it’s worse to withhold your emotions and suffer in silence. Society admires this trait, especially in men, but holding in emotions may make it harder to process later on.
Think of emotions as building up like water behind a dam. If the dam is our mental state, then a lot of withheld emotions, or water, can cause shallow cracks in it that we may not recognize at first.
After a while, the dam breaks, and then our emotions come pouring out, leaving us unsure of what to do with them because they’ve been stored away for so long.
In short, an emotional person is a healthy person. It’s better to accept that we are emotional beings and allow us to feel sad, happy, angry, jealous, etc., from time to time.
2. Use coping skills
Coping skills, or coping mechanisms, are used by people when going through high anxiety, trauma, or sadness. They can be a way of redirecting thoughts or emotions to maintain emotional well-being.
However, not all coping mechanisms are helpful. Some can do more harm than good, such as reaching for alcohol, cigarettes, medication, drugs, or isolating yourself. These are examples of negative coping mechanisms and can worsen both the mental and physical state.
Examples of positive coping mechanisms are meditating, praying, exercising, spending time with family and friends, and doing hobbies you enjoy.
Next time you feel highly emotional, try one of these coping mechanisms to see if they help.
3. Talk to a counselor
If you feel that you cannot control your emotions yourself or that they are coming from an undiagnosed medical issue, talk to a healthcare provider or counselor.
They can provide you with professional advice on healthy coping mechanisms and how to approach them so that you can build long-lasting mental health.
The Bottom Line
When our emotions are in a prolonged heightened state, we may be left wondering, “why am I so emotional?”
The emotions we feel stray from many different aspects of our life. Some are medical, such as a hormonal imbalance, while our environment, stressful situations and activities may also cause a change in emotion.
Lack of sleep, exercise, or a healthy, balanced diet can also lead to heightened emotions.
It’s important to remember that everyone experiences emotions and that you are not alone.
However, when those emotions begin to put more stress on our daily life, so much so that you find yourself unable to accomplish tasks or work, that is when you should seek help.
Try reaching out to a therapist who can give you professional advice on coping mechanisms you can use.