I often do an exercise that I've started referring to as a "brain dump". Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, for whatever reason, it helps to just simply start typing. I start by just saying whatever is most present on my mind, and each new thought starts on a new line. More often than not I end up drilling down to some kind of inner conflict buried pretty deep in my mind.
What's really amazing is when seemingly unrelated stressful moments in your life are revealed to be from the same source.
Apropos of nothing I believe this works because it frees up space in your brain. Sometimes, when I'm trying to get too much done at once, I'm stressed out by trying to keep to many things in the forefront of my thoughts at once. When I get stuck like that I create a scratch pad document with three 'zones'
stuff I'm working on right now
Stuff that I know needs to get done
Stuff that is now done.
Start by dumping everything I'm thinking of in 'Todo' and pick one and put it in Doing and while I'm in the middle of doing it when I think thoughts like "oh and this should really do x" I add that to the Todo pile and go back to doing. Each time I finish of the 'Doing' task I scan the todo list, move anything I need to into Done and pull one up for the Doing pane.
By externalizing the bookkeeping of all the things I'm trying to keep straight in my head I free up cycles to actually work on something.
The recently discussed http://mindmup.com works beautifully for me for this -- I just start lobbing the features and head noise into nodes and organize until some watershed where I realize I know what I need to do.
I picked up on it from this site: http://750words.com/ It's rather cathartic, although you're right that letting your mind wander within a recorded stream sometimes means you write down some quite scary stuff, it's probably the same part of the brain that says "you could jump, you know" whenever you look over a high ledge