We all have long, tiring days where we feel more irritable and react too quickly. And while overreacting to minor inconveniences can appear as a personality trait to some, it's an entirely natural occurrence that we all experience. 

Although it's completely okay to feel your emotions and want to explode from time to time, it doesn't always feel great, nor does it help the situation. If you've been told that you're "too sensitive" or "overthink things," you know how intense and overwhelming it can be. But how do you know if your emotional response is appropriate or if you're overreacting?

Check out these 5 signs to get a better understanding:

  1. You’re stressed or anxious. The psychology of overreacting explains that people overreact to protect themselves against threats. When we perceive a "threat" to our wellbeing, the body activates the stress response. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released to prepare you to either fight the potential threat or run away from it. Your heart starts racing, your body temperature increases, and you may even experience physical symptoms like stomach aches. While this response helps avoid a car accident, it can also cause you to overreact to an insult. 

  2. You didn’t sleep well. Sleep helps us restore our emotional brain circuits to prepare us for the next day. And without quality sleep, research shows that the vibrant centers of the brain are 60% more reactive. The brain finds it more challenging to put emotional experiences or triggers into context and produce appropriate, rational responses. 

  3. You’re hungry. Although it doesn't excuse unhealthy behaviors, hunger does play a role in the way we feel.  When you haven't eaten for a while, your blood sugar decreases, triggering the same stress hormones released when you're anxious, stressed, or sleep-deprived, which can cause aggression or other impulsive behaviors. 

  4. You were triggered. Everyone has their triggers, meaning we can all be overly sensitive to specific criticisms, fears, etc., based on our past experiences. What can seem like a minor insult to some can be a trigger that releases years' worth of pain for others. When this happens, we tend to have a more significant reaction than the moment deserves. Some people take these overwhelming emotions out on those around them, while others turn inwards. 

  5. You’re a highly sensitive person. Being an HSP has its pros and cons. You may be easily offended by those who don't mean any harm or misunderstand their intentions. Highly sensitive people become overwhelmed by tension, aggression, and conflict more than others. On the other hand, your sensitivity can be viewed as a natural strength. You're more likely to empathize with others, be deeply moved by beauty, and have a rich, complex inner life. 

Overreactions can also appear as:

  • Dissociation-or severe anxiety that separates you from the present moment
  • Perfectionism
  • Trouble accepting the current situation or circumstances
  • Difficulty recognizing other perspectives

These signs of overreacting don't mean your feelings aren't valid. However, you may benefit from finding ways to manage and express your feelings productively. Not only will it help you feel in control of your emotions, but it'll benefit your mental health in the long run.

If you experience any of these signs frequently or find that they disrupt your day-to-day functioning,  you may benefit from working with a mental health professional. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that helps you recognize and understand the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.