4 Healthy Ways to Deal With Emotions

Friday, November 30, 2012

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Emotions can be a healthy, normal response to difficult situations (and people!). Problems arise, though, when emotions interfere with how we function in the world or when we try coping with emotions that feel out of control by reaching for a cigarette or over indulging in salty or sugary snacks.

The trick is to learn to make the best of emotions, instead of letting emotions get the best of you!

  1. Ask yourself: Am I really upset or am I running on limited resources? 

    Sometimes we’re really upset about the current situation and other times we’re just stressed to the max or running on empty. When our resources are limited—because of stress, lack of sleep, or demands on our time—our capacity to deal with emotions is compromised. And we are more likely to experience flashes of emotion unexpectedly. Take a moment to consider whether you’re really upset or running on empty in some other area. Commit to dealing with the problem or emotion tomorrow after you’ve had some time to wind down and rest.

  2. Express yourself!
    If your go-to response to uncomfortable emotions is to stuff them away and pretend they’re not there, it may be time to try to express them. When we bury or deny feelings, they build up until we are on the verge of exploding at the slightest offense. This can be especially tricky when you need to confront someone who has upset you.  Sometimes talking through things in more neutral territory can help. Try planning for a girls’ night in to talk through your feelings or take some time to “talk it over with yourself” by jotting your thoughts and feelings down in a journal or notepad. Giving yourself freedom to express and explore may help you to uncover the source of the feelings and address them in a more productive way.

  3. Unhook and re-channel the emotion
    The conveniences of modern technology, like TV, mobile phones, apps, games, social media, and online shopping, mean that we have an endless supply of distractions from uncomfortable emotions. Instead of giving in to the temptation to avoid feelings with techno-distractors, unhook. Consider what these emotions are telling you about yourself and your current situation. How could you re-channel that energy into something positive and useful? For example, if you are angry or upset about a social issue in your local community, write a letter expressing your opinion to a newspaper editor or even your local congressional representative. And check out How to Tell If You’re Over-wired to learn more about when it might be time to unhook.

  4. Let go and let be
    If you find that you get stuck replaying your feelings about something over and over again or that one emotion spirals into other feelings not related to your current situation, you may need to let it go. Check out our tips on the Power of Acknowledging Emotions for some ideas on how to acknowledge feelings without letting them take over. 

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