Learn How to Manage Inward Emotional Turbulence

Inward Emotional Turbulence

While occasional periods of emotional distress can be expected, if you are consistently feeling like your intense emotions are out of control, you may be dealing with crippling emotional turbulence. Recognizing that your emotional landscape needs to be regulated to help you reach inner peace is the first step in creating emotional awareness and treating your emotional turmoil.

Emotions are a consistent part of everyday life, positively and negatively affecting our lives. Emotions can present in big and small ways, putting us in a stable or turbulent emotional state. When our emotions feel like they are all over the place, we may be experiencing a time of emotional turbulence.

This article will discuss emotional turbulence, define the concept, and outline many signs that your emotional equilibrium may need to be assessed. It will then discuss managing stressful and emotionally turbulent situations to move toward healthy coping strategies and mental well-being. The goal of this article is to identify the ways that emotional turbulence can impact you and help you find some relief.

Defining Emotional Turbulence

Emotional turbulence is the state of experiencing emotional waves that pull you in various directions, all at the same time. It is often associated with negative emotions, such as anger, grief, or anxiety, but it can also be related to positive emotions. Many people experiencing emotional turbulence will feel like their emotions are fighting against each other to be the loudest and most addressed emotion, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

This can be particularly difficult because of the role emotions play in our physical health and relationships, so it can cause additional physical discomfort and impact our lives negatively. It is essential to distinguish the feelings of emotional turbulence from other mental health diagnoses that may affect our emotions. For people experiencing emotional turbulence, the symptoms may be onset suddenly and usually by a specific stressful event or time.

The symptoms will usually be more manageable or disappear with care and treatment over time. However, if you notice that you are dealing with crippling emotional turbulence or emotional upset that cannot be addressed through the options outlined below, you may need to seek professional help or other diagnosis. This is especially true if you have been experiencing emotional turbulence for quite some time that is not traceable to a stressful life event. Only mental health professionals can make additional diagnoses or prescribe medication.

Signs of Inner Emotional Turbulence

While emotional turbulence will often present differently for everyone, some signs may show that you may need to treat your emotional turbulence to achieve your goals of inner peace better. Again, these signs may not be present in all situations, and they may be signs of some more significant mental health issues at play. However, if you notice these signs or symptoms popping up frequently, addressing the symptoms of your inner emotional turbulence can be helpful.

Rapid Changes in Emotional State

One of the first signs that many people will encounter is shock or surprise at mood swings, where they may feel stable in one moment and upset or other negative emotions the next without much provocation. Feeling overwhelmed by our shifts in emotional control often leaves people wondering if they can handle feelings as they come along. Your feelings may seem like a chaotic storm of change when you desperately try to react differently.

Feeling Out of Control

Another sign of inward emotional turbulence is the constant feeling of being out of control in every aspect of your life. It may feel like everything is too much to handle, and no matter how hard you try to bring it back to a manageable place, you cannot seem to get ahead. It can also feel like you are falling behind everyone dealing with the same things you are, no matter how hard you try. Many people report feeling stressed or angry about decisions they cannot make.

Disproportionate Feelings

Aside from the rapid onset of emotions, you may also feel that your reactions are disproportionate to the situations you encounter. You may feel angry about something that would not have set you off earlier or experience tremendous stress toward a situation that would typically only have given you pause.

This will also often cause you to feel embarrassed by the outburst and become overly self-critical after the fact, leading to further disruption in your inner world. Emotional turbulence will often cause you to lose your reasoning abilities, impacting your ability to react proportionately.

Heightened Observation of the Impact of Your Emotions

You may also notice that you suffer from emotional turbulence because it negatively impacts your life. This can be evident in your work or your romantic or family relationships. You may begin to notice that your emotional experience may drive away a family member or impact an otherwise healthy relationship. You may also become more aware of how your emotions affect those around you and your job, especially when you react differently in certain instances than you usually would, such as when desires clash.

Physical Sensations or Pain

In recent years, there has been increasing research that emotional turbulence and other mental health issues may increase or cause bodily sensations or underlying pain. If you are experiencing a lot of emotional upheaval, your body may react strongly and attempt to give you signals that something is wrong. This is especially true when people are suppressing emotions and ignoring them.

However, this should not be taken as a way to write off physical pain or other symptoms showing your body is unwell. It is only a sign to watch for in conjunction with different issues. Any of the signs of emotional turbulence could present for a variety of reasons, and it is always better to consult a professional if you are concerned with your mental health.

Common Instigators of Emotional Turbulence

As mentioned above, emotional turbulence is often brought on by a stressful life event or a series of them. While it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause for each person, some general categories can cause emotional turbulence to pop up. Importantly, emotional turbulence most commonly pops up when you are faced with a stressful event and cannot respond well or manage emotions during that event.

  • Too Many Tasks or Responsibilities: Many people experience emotional turbulence when they have numerous responsibilities and little time to devote to each one. These tasks may come from work, school, social life, or family obligations. It may often feel like all your time is spent on other people and projects, and you control none of your own time.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Another common cause of emotional turbulence is our lifestyle choices. These could include a high-stress career, a pressured home environment, an overly packed calendar, or various other instances and options that can leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the ever-growing list of to-dos. When this stress hits without the ability to manage it, it can cause overwhelming and turbulent outbursts.
  • Intrinsic and Learned Stress Reactions: Because each person has been exposed to various levels of stress and trauma, the experiences we bring will often shape how we react to stress moving forward. Some people may be able to tolerate considerable levels of stress with ease, while others may respond poorly to a minor inconvenience. The ability to address and manage stress will often significantly affect emotional turbulence, both in the cause and the reaction.

Tips to Manage Stressful Life Events

When stressful life events pop up and we begin to notice signs of emotional turbulence, it can help us have a plan to cope with them. These tips and tricks may not work in every situation, but they can be helpful when we see ourselves struggling with our emotions.

Reframe Negative Emotions

One significant shift that can help your mental health is to adjust your perspective on positive and negative emotions. While it may seem like most emotions fit neatly into one category or the other, it is also true that emotion can also present positively and negatively. Emotions are a signal to our body that something has happened. They protect us and keep us safe.

Consider anger, which is most often taught as a negative emotion. However, when someone has genuinely wronged you in a way that crosses a clear boundary, harmed you physically, or done something else to cause hurt, it is a positive experience to feel anger. This means you have the self-awareness and compassion to see that you deserve to be treated better. How you respond or express the anger can impact your life negatively or positively.

In my practice, I have worked to reframe emotions into big and small feelings based on how I experience them. This helps me gauge the area of my life that has been harmed and create a more measured response when I am ready.

Practice Self-Compassion

Another step when encountering emotional turbulence is to work toward self-compassion. This often goes hand-in-hand with reframing emotions because it encourages you to practice gently observing your feelings and reacting while taking responsibility for how your responses may have harmed others.

While we have some control over our responses, compassion for our emotions is foundational to understanding our negative emotions and how to respond best when they arise. We often respond based on instinct, which is not always the best outcome. Yet, being gentle with ourselves will encourage us to learn from our mistakes and make better choices in the future.

Physical Practices

Because our emotional state is often tied to our physical state and our emotions express themselves in our bodies, physical practices to address the symptoms we feel may also restore balance to our emotions. Big or negative emotions often feel like a lot of energy gets built up in the body that needs to be released. There are various constructive ways to release that energy; most will depend on the tools and physical space around you to address them.

For example, if you are in a room with other people or an office where others may see you, getting up and running like your body is telling you to be impossible. However, practice deep breathing, taking focused and elongated breaths. You may be able to stabilize your body’s response enough to respond well and handle the anxiety until you can remove yourself from the situation.

Many people believe that exercising in an open space or getting to a place where you can exercise will help you regulate your emotions. Exercise releases endorphins, which often help you feel more in control of the situation and a generally happier person. Exercise does not need to be an intense gym session or a long run to reap the benefits. Going for a walk or doing other creative activities to get your body moving will help you regulate your issues.

Seek Professional Help

While the other tips above may help alleviate some of the symptoms, when you are dealing with any mental health issue, it is crucial to seek out help. Managing emotional turbulence is not an easy task and will often require a professional diagnosis or assistance to get ahead of. Therapy, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you process the triggers in your life, address the responses that pop up, and plan for future responses. Therapy is often life-changing and life-saving, so it should be a part of your plan to manage your emotional turbulence.


Many people experience emotional turbulence throughout their lives. It often results in symptoms and signs that may make it more difficult for people to be around you. However, it is usually caused by stressful situations. It can be remedied if you understand how you respond to stress and emotions and plan to work with your feelings moving forward. Acknowledging and working toward a better response is a valuable part of taking care of your mental health.

To learn more about inward emotional turbulence, emotional intelligence, and more, contact ADR Times!

Emily Holland
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