Emotional paralysis can impact our daily lives in many different ways. The people in our lives may notice that we are slightly aloof or distant, and this can in turn create tension in interpersonal relationships. It also stifles our ability to make decisions, a phenomenon known as analysis paralysis. Therapist Vicki Botnick (Healthline, 2020) explains that analysis paralysis is most common when someone is overwhelmed by anxiety when trying to come to a decision, which leads to an endless loop of “what ifs”. This can make even the smallest decisions excruciatingly difficult.
Fortunately, there are ways that we can manage emotional paralysis. One of the first and most important is to make sure you are taking care of yourself. This might sound obvious, but often we get caught up in our daily lives and neglect essential self-care such as sleeping enough, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. Sometimes when we experience emotional paralysis, it is because we are burnt out, as we may have been neglecting our health.
Another useful strategy to reduce overwhelm is to segment and break down tasks / days into manageable chunks. Noticing and celebrating small progress leads to a snowball effect that makes moving forward easier.
Meditation and CBT therapy have also been shown to improve emotional paralysis. Meditation can help us slow down, and disconnect from automatic thoughts, or thoughts that pop into our brain that we take as fact (Selva, Positive Psychology, 2021). It is most effective when you build a daily practice, so even setting aside five minutes a day can make a big difference. CBT therapy with a trained psychologist is an effective way of battling emotional paralysis as it helps to break the link between anxious thoughts or emotions, and the particular maladaptive behavior.
Emotional paralysis can feel scary, especially when it is debilitating and gets in the way of daily activities. Our CBT trained psychologists at Fernwood Clinic are here to help you through your recovery process with an individualized treatment plan. We have all been through a lot these past two years, so it's important to be gentle and patient with yourself as you work towards recovery as addressing behavioral patterns can take time.
Mischa Vernon-Wyatt, Fernwood Clinic Team
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