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. But sometimes they can feel overwhelming, and we reach for other things – like cigarettes or “comfort foods” to deal. With a little practice, you can find new ways to deal with these situations, without getting taken for a ride by cigarettes or 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, you can be really upset about a situation. Other times, you might just be stressed to the max or running on empty in other parts of your life. When resources are limited—because of stress, lack of sleep, or demands on your time—your ability to deal with emotions is put to the test. You may be more likely to experience unexpected flashes of emotion. Take a moment to think about whether you’re really upset or just at your wit’s end because of day-to-day stresses.  It’s OK to deal with the problem or emotion tomorrow, after you’ve had some time to wind down and take stock of your feelings.

2. Express yourself.
If your go-to response to uncomfortable emotions is to stuff them away and pretend they’re not there, try to express your emotions instead of hiding them. When you bury or deny feelings, they can build up. Then, you might over-react to “small stuff” that normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal. This can be especially tricky when you need to confront someone who has upset you.  Talking through issues in a neutral territory can help. Maybe plan a girls’ night in to talk through your feelings. Or talk it over with yourself by jotting down your thoughts and feelings in a diary or journal. Giving yourself freedom to express and explore may help you uncover the source of the feelings so you can tackle them in a productive way.

3. Unplug and re-channel the emotion.
TV, mobile phones, apps, games, social media, and online shopping can provide endless distraction from uncomfortable emotions. Instead of avoiding feelings with technology, unplug every now and then. You can use that quiet time to reflect on what your emotions are telling you about yourself and your current situation. And you can try to re-channel that energy into something positive and useful. For example, if you are angry or upset about a community issue, you might write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. By spending less time connected to technology, you might find that you have the time to act on things you care about. How to Tell If You’re Over-wired can help you decide when it might be time to unplug.

4. Let go and let be.
Do you find yourself putting your feelings on replay, thinking about them over and over again? Does a single emotion spiral into more feelings that drag other situations into the one you’re struggling with? You may need to let those feelings go. Being aware of your feelings without letting them take over is something you can practice and use to your advantage.

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