Deal with Challenging Emotions
I want to share some practical self-help and coping tips to deal with challenging emotions. Being able to express anger appropriately, feeling gratitude, talking to others and using your breath to feel calm. These are particular helpful if you experience anxiety and/or panic attacks. Obviously you’ll pick the ones that work for you but what I would say is that just because they may not work for you today or you may not like some of them, doesn’t mean to say you won’t in the future.
Self Help Tips
Let’s get started:
Shouting/screaming/letting it all out
It took me years to fully understand the power of this but I can assure you it does work. I’m an emotional freedom technique practitioner. I know now that if we don’t release our frustrations, anger, anxiety, sadness etc then it will fester in our bodies. It can affect us in ways we can’t imagine. Choose to let it out in whatever way feels right, again try different ways to suit you. I shout in my car where it is safe to do so, I’m by myself and it doesn’t scare anyone.
Once I have done it, apart from a slightly sore throat I feel so relieved, like a weight’s lifted. Some people like punching pillows, screaming into them when no one is about. They may do boxing and that can work well. There are lots of ideas so find one that you like. The more you do it the easier it becomes.
I know when I suggested this to my sister she felt silly about it. Once you have overcome the initial embarrassment or whatever you feel the benefits are so worth it.
Not a new one but breathing will certainly help you calm down, especially if you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, worrying etc.
Upper chest breathing tends to happen when we are anxious and when people experience panic attacks. Take deep breaths by expanding your diaphragm. You should feel your ribs moving outwards and back whilst you breathe.
A problem shared is a problem halved, find someone you trust and know will be supportive and empathetic. Be honest and explain what is on your mind and troubling you. You don’t need sympathy and people feeling sorry for you, saying “oh you poor thing”. We want someone that will say “I understand where you are coming from” or “That sounds like a very difficult situation”. Empathy and Sympathy are very different and the former is much more helpful in my opinion.
It was a number of years ago that I learnt about the value of gratitude journals and other useful techniques along the same lines. This can help you deal with challenging emotions by reflecting on what’s good in your life. Again there are different ways of doing this so here are some suggestions I’ve tried.
- Write in a gratitude journal – pick a nice book you’ll enjoy writing in. You can note down anything and everything you are grateful for. If you are struggling, the very basic things like I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful for my eyesight, hearing, taste and touch, I’m grateful for where I live, I’m grateful I can get out of bed each day, I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today etc
- Alternatively you can write something nice that happened each day, or as many as you like and put them into a lovely pot. You can use it when you need it, just keep adding more and more. You can also make a thing of it at the end of each year and look at everything great that’s happened in your life that year
- Tell others how grateful you are for what they do, even a thank you to a stranger or something nice someone has said or done for you
Get it out your head
Often we can feel overwhelmed when there is too much going on in our lives and more importantly, our head. My mum always use to say to me, get it out your head and write it down. I never listened of course but it isn’t until later in life I realise how right she was (sorry Mum).
- Write down any thoughts and concerns you have, you can use your phone or whatever is to hand. You can also record anything on your phone if that’s easier
- Once you have offloaded your thoughts you can look at them at a more convenient time, at least you know they are recorded somewhere so you won’t forget
- When you look at the list you might not need to do anything with some of it, sometimes we worry about things that once left no longer seem important. Once you have your list then you can prioritise it and decide what needs action and what doesn’t.
- Break down anything on the list that seems to big to tackle into more manageable chunks
- Get started – ask for help if you need it!
I hope you find these few tips helpful in how to deal with challenging emotions and can put them to good use.