12 Ways to Cope with your Emotions
The fact is that we all have emotions and at times we can feel overwhelmed by them. Maybe you’re not sleeping well, you’re going through a particularly stressful time in your life, or you’ve just lost someone you love. Perhaps you’re not even sure why you’re feeling overwhelmed, you just know that right this minute you aren’t coping well with life. Well not to worry! Unless this is a chronic thing that happens all the time, or if it has been dragging on for an extended period of time, there are some simple things that you can try to give your mood a little boost. Consider these ideas:
1. Name your emotions as you have them. Realize that your feelings are fleeting, or at least impermanent. If you like, print up a feelings wheel for reference. You can find one here: https://feelingswheel.com/
2. Journaling- talking about your feelings, even if only with yourself, can be really helpful. If you have trouble starting, just write whatever comes to your mind. Or use a writing prompt such as, “Today I was feeling__________”, or “Right now I am feeling__________”.
3. Clean or organize something, even if it’s just a drawer or a room corner. It will give you a feeling of accomplishment and the lack of clutter may help your mind and emotions not feel so hectic.
4. Share your emotions with a supportive friend. Talking it out can make things seem not quite so large and unmanageable.
5. Exercise. Anything will do. Try weightlifting, taking a walk, bike riding, swimming or Pilates.
6. Draw or paint a picture. Any art project can be really soothing. I like clay for anger or agitation, or coloring pages can help you to feel calmer. You really don’t have to be an artist either, just have fun with it.
7. Take a walk out in the sunshine, or if you’re like me and stuck in the middle of a mid-western winter, get yourself a full-spectrum therapy light for some of the artificial stuff. A little sun, nature, and fresh air will always help to clear your head.
8. Take a few deep breathes! I know you all are getting sick of me saying this one, but it really works! The easiest way to do this is to take slow deep breathes in through your nose, hold for a second or two, then blow out through pursed lips. Try to make sure that you are breathing from your diaphragm which you can tell because your stomach will be moving up and down, not your shoulders.
9. Do a mindfulness activity like meditation or yoga. Or you can incorporate mindfulness into any activity. For instance, if you are eating a sandwich, try to focus on eating the sandwich and nothing else. Notice the taste, smell, texture, colors, etc. If your mind starts to wander, just gently bring it back to the sandwich- no judgment needed! And don’t forget to turn off all electronic devices!
10. Hang out with an animal. If you don’t have one of your own, try volunteering at a shelter or visiting the petting zoo. It is amazing how much this can help you to feel calmer.
11. Check yourself for negative self-talk, then try to change it into something more positive. Just remember, for this to work, the new thoughts have to be believable to you.
12. Try a gratitude exercise where you name 5 things in your life that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes thinking about them.
When to Know You Might Need Help
If you are feeling suicidal, seek help immediately. This is not something you want to wait on! Otherwise, if it’s been several days and your emotions still seem overwhelming, or if you are feeling depressed or anxious for a week or 2, you might need to talk with a professional. Not to worry, we’re here to help and won’t judge you. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you are trying to improve your life.
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