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Why Am I So Emotional? 10 Common Reasons and How to Deal

Have you ever had an emotional day? One where you sit at work grinding your teeth and clenching your fists and just try to hold it together long enough to meet your deadlines, because if you started crying, you might never be able to stop? You’re a ball of tension, a coiled spring, or an exhausted wet rag, and your emotions feel like they’re dragging you underwater from the inside out.  

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. There are millions and millions of people duct-taping their chaotic lives together and hoping it all holds but knowing it won’t. But if you’re asking yourself Why am I so emotional? often, there could be a deeper cause of your intense feelings beyond a bad day. Let’s look at 10 common reasons you could be feeling so emotional and how to deal with those feelings.

What Are Emotions?

Emotions are bodily experiences that give you information about the state of you and your environment. They’re a guidepost—communicating to you about an experience, a relationship, or something scary or joyful coming your way. An emotion is your body’s way of getting your attention—it throws up a flag and blows a whistle when you need to pay attention to what you’re experiencing, for better or worse. According to top researchers, emotions fall into these top six categories:1

  • Happiness (or joy)
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Surprise

Feelings, on the other hand, come from emotions. They are our thoughts and perceptions of our emotions. You get the idea.

10 Reasons You Might Be Feeling More Emotional 

1. You’re human. 

Our core emotions and the feelings that result are just part of being human. Unfortunately, our culture sends confusing—and flat-out incorrect—messages about emotions and their purpose in our lives. On one hand, emotions and feelings are labeled bad or unnecessary, and you’re told you should just “suck it up and get back to work” instead of feeling the heartache from your breakup.   

On the other hand, people rely on emotions and feelings too much when it comes to making important life decisions, and they choose to ignore the facts. Your commitment to stay married shouldn’t change because you choose to feel annoyed by your husband’s dirty socks on the floor. Remember, emotions don’t get a vote. You decide how you feel. Emotions and feelings point us in the direction of what needs attention, but we should weigh our emotions and the follow-up feelings with facts. 

How to Feel Better:

If your body is trying to get your attention through anger or disgust, ask what it’s trying to protect you from. Or better yet, what is it telling you to run toward? Are you using alcohol to numb yourself from the pain of losing a job rather than feel the betrayal and disappointment of getting laid off? Are you avoiding a hard conversation with your spouse about how you desperately crave affection or to hear that you’re loved? Are you falling head over heels for the same type of person who has betrayed you multiple times in the past? It might be time to acknowledge the truth and start by admitting what you feel. 

2. You’re missing human connection. 

Whether you’re in a toxic relationship or you spend a lot of time alone, missing close human connection like friendships, a loving romantic relationship, or quality time with your community can throw your mood and wellness out of whack. When you’re lonely, your body will try and get your attention. If you feel overly emotional, being with safe, fun people is one of the quickest ways to regulate your emotions. Studies show adult-to-adult interactions, parents-to-child interactions, and even interactions between young siblings are powerful opportunities to model emotional regulation during stressful or emotional moments.2 These relationships can provide reassurance, comfort and an example of how to deal with stressful situations. 

How to Feel Better:

You’ve got to get together with other humans as soon as possible.  

  • Call a friend or your grandma on the phone. Don't be afraid to start a conversation—they’re probably missing connection too. 
  • Spend a few extra seconds asking the barista how their day is going. Look them in the eye and genuinely seek a human connection. Listen to what they have to say.  
  • Take your kid out to breakfast, look him in the eyes, and hold his face with both hands. Tell him you love him. Ask him his thoughts on things.
  • If you’re shy, you can make new friends by joining a meetup group or community soccer league where you’re encouraged to connect with other people.  

Whatever you do, you must find ways to connect with other humans in real life. 

3. You’re experiencing hormone fluctuations or imbalances. 

Hormones, like cortisol, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, all work together to keep your body working as it should. But if any of the delicate ratios of hormones that keep your body functioning properly get out of whack because of illnesses, monthly cycles or even drinking too much coffee and getting too little sleep, you might experience dysregulated moods and intense emotions.

How to Feel Better: 

I encourage you to see your doctor for a routine checkup to rule out (or confirm) any physical causes of your intense emotions. I’m a huge fan of regular blood tests so your doctor can help you understand your hormone, nutrient and blood count levels. This’ll give you a baseline for your overall wellness, help you understand how your hormones are working, and give you direction for getting well if something needs to be addressed.

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4. You’re more emotional because of genetic makeup and personality traits.

It’s possible you experience emotions more intensely than other people. I’m not suggesting you look at your horoscope or Enneagram number and believe what it says about your mood hook, line and sinker. However, some people stumble into the world highly sensitive—sensitive to the needs and emotions of others, sensitive to emotional and physical pain, and sensitive to changing environments. A highly sensitive person (HSP) responds to more subtle changes in their environments and relationships than the average population. This can lead to processing experiences or feeling emotions more intensely, feeling overstimulated more easily, and showing more empathy than the general population.3


Want to build a non-anxious life? Learn how in Dr. John Delony’s new book.

It’s important to note that highly sensitive people are not broken or dysfunctional. They play a key role in well-functioning families and societies by feeling and experiencing subtle changes in individuals, groups, or environments—often long before more analytical people do. These folks are often our artists, musicians, writers and health care professionals.

How to Feel Better:

There’s no way to change your genetics. I’ll never be a 5-foot-8-inch, 300-pound World’s Strongest Man from Norway. I’m a 6-foot-2-inch nerd from Texas. But even though I’m not built like those powerlifters, I can add strength training into my exercise routine in a way that supports my health. Likewise, if you land on the more sensitive and emotional side of the personality spectrum, you can make lifestyle changes to support your wellness and peace. A study of HSPs reported that spending time in nature, practicing yoga, walking, getting plenty of sleep, and maintaining healthy nutrition had a significant effect on their anxiety and emotions.4 Find activities, community and routines that help you decompress, rest and find renewal.

5. You need sleep.

If you find yourself feeling more emotional than usual, it could be because you’re not getting enough rest. Insomnia is a classic symptom of anxiety, and sleep deprivation can lead to frustration, aggression, irritability, anxiety and depression.5 Getting behind on sleep has also been known to cause more negative reactions to negative situations, as well as less enthusiastic reactions to happy situations.6 Bottom line? Sleep is a powerful tool that will help keep your emotions working how they should.

How to Feel Better: 

During the day, you can exercise to relieve pent-up energy, stop drinking caffeine after 10 or 11 a.m., and cut alcohol out of your diet. At nighttime, create a healthy routine and stick with it. Be consistent with what time you go to bed and wake up. Turn off your devices an hour before you go to sleep. And implement habits that calm you down and prepare you for sleep. That could include praying, reading, taking a shower, doing a few minutes of stretching, or playing some calming music before bed. Trust me, getting caught up on sleep can make all the difference.

6. Your food is affecting your mood. 

If you’ve ever heard that food affects your mood, it’s true. (That’s why I feel like my brain turns off when I crush a bag of gummy candy after a stressful meeting and why I feel energized and ready to take on the world when I eat healthy, whole foods.) If you’re feeling really emotional, take a minute to think over what you’ve been eating. Sugar, alcohol, caffeine and lots of fried fast food can do a number on your mental and emotional health.

How to Feel Better: 

Eat the healthiest food you can afford, including fruit and vegetables and plenty of protein (like chicken, beef, fish and eggs), and drink lots of water. I’m not telling you to get on the newest TikTok diet craze or eat only cabbage for a 30-day detox challenge (gross). What I am saying is do your best to make healthy choices on a daily basis. Supporting your body with good nutrition and energy can make a world of a difference for your emotional responses.

7. Your body needs to move. 

Folks, if politics make you huff and puff louder than a linebacker at the Super Bowl, or if traffic inspires you to roll down your window and shake your fist at a guy in a minivan, paying money to smash stuff in a rage room to relieve stress isn’t the answer. In fact, rage rooms are known to make things worse. If anyone feels any sort of rage room benefit, it’s almost entirely a result of the physical activity. If you’ve been more sedentary than usual, your body will start to react in emotional ways to signal that you need movement.

How to Feel Better: 

You can start small. Take a walk through your neighborhood, do some stretches on the living room floor, or whip out that dusty tennis racket and go spend an afternoon being a clumsy tennis player at the YMCA. Or get on YouTube and find some free, guided at-home workouts and get after it. Exercise is a tremendous (and free) way to boost your mood and relieve tension.

8. You’re dealing with work or life stress. 

Stress can be a good thing. It’s what fires us up to nail a presentation at work, outrun a saber-toothed tiger in the woods, and run across the yard to catch our kid before he breaks his arm falling out of a tree. Stress keeps us alert and able to act quickly. But when we live anxious, stressful lives 24/7, our stress response or “fight or flight” system is constantly activated and can cause emotional exhaustion—and bad moods. 

How to Feel Better: 

First, you need to determine the main cause of your stress. If you’re dealing with a long-term stressor, like a hostile work environment, there could be a tough conversation that needs to happen with your leader to clear the air (or you may need to look for a new job). If you know you’re about to enter into a season filled with holiday stress, you can make a game plan ahead of time to help you manage the stress. Write down and own what you can control—and decide what you can let go of or change entirely. 

9. You experienced trauma, or you’re in a season of grief.  

Whenever you experience trauma, like getting in a major accident or spending years of your childhood in a chaotic environment, or you’re grieving a loss (like a divorce or losing a child), you will have an emotional response. Remember: Your emotions are simply your body’s way of trying to get your attention.

How to Feel Better: 

I’ll never forget this lesson from my brilliant mentor, Justin McRoberts. He says we must “give grief its moment.” Meaning, when we feel sad or disappointed—no matter the cause—we need to honor the moment. I love that. Sometimes a moment is brief. Just take a deep breath and sigh. Let your shoulders fall. Gaze out the window and look at everything and nothing. Give sadness its moment to come and go. Sometimes, the moment is long—even months or years. In these seasons, I strongly suggest finding a trusted therapist to walk alongside you as you begin to feel your emotions and start on the path to healing.

10. You have a mental health diagnosis. 

Mental health diagnoses like depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder are often accompanied by intense feelings of sadness, extreme mood highs and lows, guilt, shame anger and more. Even experiences of high-functioning anxiety can send your emotions on a roller-coaster ride as you try to keep up with life’s responsibilities. I’m not one for giving yourself a diagnosis according to Dr. Google, but a legitimate medical condition will often come with symptoms affecting your emotions. 

How to Feel Better: 

Like I said, I don’t want you to rely on the internets to trick you into thinking you have an actual mental health condition. Instead, get with a professional (like a counselor or primary care provider) who can give you an accurate, medically sound evaluation and guide you on the next steps for getting well.  

You Can Begin to Heal

Emotions are a natural part of life. They help us understand what we think and feel and point us in the direction of things that need our attention. If you’re feeling more emotional than usual, know you’re not alone and that there are people and resources who can help you understand what’s going on. If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out my new book, Building a Non-Anxious Life. You’ll learn the Six Daily Choices that can help you build a more peaceful, joyful, non-anxious life. Start reading for free today! 

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Dr. John Delony

About the author

Dr. John Delony

Dr. John Delony is a mental health expert with two PhDs from Texas Tech University—one in counselor education and supervision and the other in higher education administration. Before joining Ramsey Solutions in 2020, John spent two decades in crisis response, walking with people through severe trauma. Now at Ramsey Solutions, John writes, speaks and teaches on relationships, mental health, anxiety and wellness. He also serves as co-host of The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation that’s heard by 18 million weekly listeners, as well as host of The Dr. John Delony Show. In 2022, John’s book Own Your Past, Change Your Future instantly became a #1 national bestseller. You can also find John featured on DailyMailTV, Fox Business and The Minimalists Podcast. Learn More.

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