Experiencing Emotional Shock
It was July 2023, and I was excited about my mini-sabbatical that was right around the corner, a two-week trip to Mexico. Looking forward to getting away from the noise of work and daily routine, it was my time for reflection, rejuvenation, and restoration of my weary soul.
My girlfriend and I arrived in Mexico, settled into our beautiful Air B&B, and began our quest to
enjoy a two-week hiatus on the beach in the sun. Everything was going as planned until I got THE call.
That daunting phone call that changes everything. The kind of call that produces a sense that your life is about to change in ways that you have never imagined, like:
- coming home from work one day to find out that your spouse is leaving you because they no longer love you,
- or going to work feeling like everything is OK to be called into the boss's office and learn that you're being let go from the company effective immediately.
Your breathing changes, and your body temperature rises from the overwhelming emotion of fear. Understand that you are in shock – emotional shock.
Symptoms of Emotional Shock
Emotional Shock is a reaction to an unexpected event or traumatic incident that can impact your functional state. It is often a flight or fight response. It is a normal but painful way your brain reacts to something it sees as threatening your well-being.
When faced with an intense stressor, you may experience a rush of overwhelming emotions that you are not ready to understand or respond to, which can cause your body to go into a state of shock, says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist. According to Dr. Daramus, when your brain cannot process the situation, it freezes to protect your mind and body.
These are the exact symptoms that I felt when receiving that life-changing call.
Coping with Emotional Shock
The critical first step in adapting and adjusting to an emotional shock is to stop and think. Your reaction might be to move quickly into action – after all, you like to be in control. But that is not always the best course of action.
Here are some additional steps to take:
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Go somewhere where you feel safe.
Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated – drink plenty of water.
Accept that you are in an "emotional shock" situation and give your mind and body time to adjust.
Accept that you are feeling overwhelmed right now, but you will figure out what to do.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself; respect where you are, and express confidence.
The next time you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you due to an unexpected phone call, experience, or event, take a minute and give yourself permission to STOP and BE. Let the emotional shock pass. Let the new information sink in. Then, begin to adapt and adjust to the situation by prioritizing what is next and what is in the best interest for you to do.
After one week in Mexico, I returned to Kansas City and went directly to the hospital to see my family. Things have settled down, my family member is making progress, and I'm beginning to adapt to the new lifestyle that we are facing.
As we journey together, I will be sharing other lessons I've learned along the way.
I know YOU also have a story! Please share it with me - I'd love to hear from you.