It can be tough to deal with intense emotions. The ongoing pandemic and persisting racial and social inequities can bring about a lot of different responses. Some days we might feel overcome with sadness, anger, grief, or anxiety. While other days, we might feel hopeful or filled with gratitude. During these especially difficult times, we may find ourselves flooded with a range of strong emotions and unsure how to process them. Here are four tips that VeryWell Mind suggests to help us navigate our emotions:
Identify How You’re Feeling
Sometimes we may be feeling intense emotions, but we aren’t even sure exactly what they are. It helps to slow down and label our emotions so that we can better understand exactly what we are feeling in the moment. Try consciously identifying the emotion that you’re experiencing. If it helps, you can also write it down or verbally express how you feel to someone.
Determine if Your Emotions Are Helpful or Unhelpful
Not all intense emotions are “bad,” even if they may seem like it on the surface. For example, if someone is feeling anger about social injustices, this emotion can be channeled into motivation to create a positive change in their community. In this case, anger may be a helpful emotion. However, it can just as easily be an unhelpful emotion if it causes someone to lash out at a loved one or behave in a rude way to others.
Once we have labeled our emotions, we can identify if they are unhelpful or helpful to us. This is a reminder that it’s okay to feel whatever we are feeling. It’s a normal part of life to feel many different emotions and we don’t have to completely brush off certain uncomfortable emotions. What matters more is recognizing if these emotions are helpful and if we should embrace them, or if they are unhelpful and if we should take steps to manage them.
Reframe Unhelpful Thoughts
If we find that our current emotions are unhelpful, we can practice reframing our thoughts around them. Pay attention to negative thoughts that may start to play out in your head. Instead of telling ourselves, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” we can practice simply reframing these thoughts by saying, “These emotions are uncomfortable, but I will be okay.” Rather than becoming upset with ourselves for feeling intense emotions, it’s best to acknowledge them for what they are in the moment.
Another tip is to ask yourself what you might say to a friend who is struggling with something. You would likely offer kindness and support to them. Give yourself the same encouragement and compassion that you would give to others.
Adopt Healthy Coping Skills
While we can’t just turn off all of our uncomfortable emotions, there are ways that we can work through them, by practicing healthy coping skills. Perhaps you find yourself more at peace when you’re staying active, talking on the phone with a friend, spending time outdoors, cooking a healthy meal, or engaging in a hobby that you love. It’s okay to try different things and see what’s helpful for you. If we are taking care of ourselves and nurturing our connections with others, we will be much more equipped to manage any intense emotions as they arise.
If you feel like you are still struggling to manage any intense or uncomfortable emotions during this time, you can schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate therapists. They will be able to help you understand your emotions better and provide more tools for how to manage them.