Managing Difficult Emotions

22 Jan 2013

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Most people have had the experience of feeling overwhelmed by a strong emotion. At those times, the strength of the anger, sadness, nervousness or discouragement may have made you feel like the emotion was in control of you. Emotional intensity may have effected your attitude and behavior in ways that were distressing to you and those around you. So, how do you handle these episodes without blowing your cool or having to avoid feelings entirely?

  • Be aware of your breathing-make it slow and deep. This simple step is a natural way to calm a racing pulse and mind. Take a moment to check on the muscle tension in your body,- particularly in the shoulders, neck and jaw. Relax any tight areas you find.
  • Take a brief time out to compose yourself.– If you are with others and it is not an appropriate/convenient time to express intense emotions, excuse yourself for a few minutes. You could say “I need a second to get my thoughts together. I’ll be back in a moment.”
  • Do contact supportive people and talk over your situation.-Sharing your feelings with those you trust can help you to feel normal and not isolated. Writing your feelings down in a private journal is an additional helping step you can take. A recent study showed that survivors of traumatic events lowered their distress levels significantly by journalizing.
  • Speak up when an issue is important to you-This is most effective when you spend the time to think about the problem and clarify your position before you begin. Remember, change in relationships usually happens slowly, not as the result of impulsive confrontations.
  • Be kind to yourself.– This is a good time to do some small things for yourself that give you comfort and provide a mental “mini vacation.” For example, take a quiet walk in the park, make yourself a meal with some special comfort foods, or go to bed early with your favorite book.
  • Temporarily distract yourself.-Sometimes being flooded with feelings can make it hard to cope. Visualize putting your emotional pain in a box on the closet shelf where you can get back to it to sort it out when you are calmer. Do something that will bring out the opposite emotion. Tire yourself with physical activity. Going to class or work where you really must concentrate on the task at hand, can get your mind off of the troubles for a while.
  • Try to do the regular, routine things you would do on an average day.– This will help you feel more in control. Remember that your feeling will change eventually. Remind yourself of past times when the intensity of the pain did decrease.
  • If painful feelings are a regular occurrence, make an effort to figure out why. -You might include self help books, as well as experienced counselors in your search.

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22 Jan 2013, and is filled under Emotions.



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