Table of Contents
5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions Introduction
5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions. If you’ve been through any kind of abuse or trauma, especially during childhood, you may find it difficult to deal with emotions in a healthy way.
You’ve likely been conditioned to ignore, avoid, deny, minimize, dismiss, or to think of your emotions as a burden. When this happens, emotions can feel overwhelming and make you feel out of control if you’re not trying to suppress the emotions.
Experiencing these struggles as a result of abuse is completely normal. Do not feel bad because you are having to work on yourself. Life is a journey, and working toward becoming the best version of yourself is a process. You are a survivor and you should be proud of yourself for surviving the abuse and being ready to start the process of healing.
Part of healing from that abuse and breaking out of the cycle is to learn to manage your emotions appropriately and in a healthy and productive way. This is an essential step to a happy and healthy life, which is something everyone deserves. You owe it to yourself to start taking these steps!
I’ve struggled with this myself for many years, and that is what inspired me to develop this set of journal prompts.
Why are these 5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions important?
Emotions play a significant role in how we react or respond to a situation. When you manage your emotions appropriately and can express them in a productive way, you are able to form more meaningful relationships with people. It also allows you to be more objective about your emotions in any situation.
This allows you to be more in control of a situation because you can take a step back to observe and process what is happening, what you’re feeling, and thinking. This helps you to learn more about yourself and have more understanding and control over your life.
When emotions are not under control, it can cause relationship issues, trouble at work, trouble at school. You may be prone to use unhealthy coping mechanisms, or have physical or emotional outbursts.
When I am really struggling, I find I like to go through these questions in my journal to answer them, and then I can take a break and come back to it and read the answers from an objective place.
5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions
What am I feeling?
Asking yourself what you’re feeling helps you to identify your feelings. This gives you the opportunity to accept them as well.
It is also important to realize that you can feel both positive and negative emotions at the same time. Emotions are a complex thing, and not always black and white. This is often why taking control of them and managing them can be more difficult.
Don’t ignore, deny, or dismiss any of your emotions. This is counterproductive, and causes these emotions to be more intense and overwhelming. Notice them and put a label on them instead of being reactive to them. This allows you to approach emotions in a much more objective way.
- What are all the emotions I’m feeling right now? Make a list.
- Which emotion is the overpowering one?
- What is it important for me to control this overpowering emotion? What will happen if I don’t?
Once you’ve identified and labeled your emotions, it is time to work on accepting them. Emotions are always there, it isn’t something you can flip on and off like a light switch. That is a good thing, by the way. But what that means is you’re always going to be experiencing some kind of emotion. They serve as a form of feedback about what is going on around you and help provide information to help you understand a situation and if you need to make changes.
Do not tell yourself not to feel a certain way. That invalidates your experiences. If you’ve been through trauma, I know you’ve had plenty of experience with others invalidating your experience. Do not do it to yourself!
Accepting your emotions when they happen will teach you to be more comfortable with them. When this happens, accepting them starts to become easier. It also will decrease the intensity of emotions and allows you to feel them without being overwhelmed and reacting in a negative and unhealthy way.
The more you practice being mindful of your emotions and labeling them, the easier it will become, and the better you will be at managing them. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. It really does take practice and patience because you are learning about yourself.
What caused these feelings?
Once you’re able to identify and accept your emotions, the next step is to figure out what caused these feelings.
It is important to identify what causes both positive and negative emotions. Don’t just focus on the negative ones in this step. Being able to recognize the negative emotions can help you remove them or cut down on them. Being able to recognize positive emotions can help you implement more of those in your life.
This helps balance things and create more positive experiences in life instead of just expecting negative ones, and is a shift in mindset. It helps you to say no to things that are not healthy in your life.
What do I want to do about these feelings?
When you have certain feelings, you may feel compelled to behave in a certain way or say specific things. For example, I feel like punching anyone who makes me cry in the face. You may be tempted to raise your voice and call someone less than stellar names when they make you angry or hurt your feelings.
It is perfectly normal to feel these things and think about saying or doing something as a result of your feelings. But just because you think it doesn’t mean you need to act on it.
Now while punching someone in the face, calling them a jerk, or any other impulsive and counterproductive responses man seem like a good idea, and are often tempting to give in to, they are not a good idea. My favorite phrase here is, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Ask yourself why it is important to control an overpowering emotion. What will happen if you don’t control it?
Think about all the negative consequences that can happen if you allow yourself to react impulsively. What are the negative consequences of suppressing your emotions? Make a list, and then use that list to remind yourself why it is important to maintain control over your emotions and express them appropriately.
Expressing your emotions isn’t always an easy thing to do. Because there is a balance between overwhelming emotions and feeling nothing at all. Expressing emotions often feels more difficult than simply pretending that everything is fine. But in the end, pretending that nothing is wrong is distressing and counterproductive.
When you suppress your emotions, not only do they feel more overwhelming every time they surface, suppressing emotions can cause physical and mental health issues. These can include but are certainly not limited to anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle tension, body aches, increased heart rate, eating disorders, and even substance abuse.
Knowing when to express yourself is also important. Emotions happen in every situation, but that situation may not be the time or place to express them. For example, I wanted to punch my father in-law because he made me cry the other day, and we were in the middle of a bookstore. I had to walk away and give myself a moment so I didn’t have a full blown meltdown complete with ugly crying in the middle of a store.
It is perfectly okay to excuse yourself from a situation and take a breather when you feel overwhelmed. I came back to those emotions that I felt in the bookstore and what caused them later that night when I was at home, and allowed it all to happen so I could start exploring it and working through it. That is how I was mindful of my surroundings, and knowing I wasn’t able to express my emotions in a healthy way at that moment.
But that isn’t an excuse for avoiding those emotions. Think of it like a fight with your husband, and you need a break to settle before you come back to it with a different mindset. You still have to come back to the fight to resolve it and not let it get swept under the rug to fester. Emotions and dealing with them are the exact same thing. If you need to take a breather, make absolutely certain that you still come back and return to those emotions to process them instead of avoiding them. Healthy space is only a temporary solution.
Is there another way to view the situation?
I’m going to go back to the example I used a moment ago about my hostile response to my father in-law. He has the attention span of a squirrel on crack at a rave. It irritates me because no discussion is ever finished with him, nor does it always make sense. I texted my favorite person on the planet when I walked away in the bookstore because I was upset and needed a distraction at that moment.
His response to me was suggesting that issue may be a sign of the early onset of dementia. Nobody knows if that is the case, but the suggestion certainly made me stop and think about the situation from a different perspective. Maybe there is something going on that is influencing his behavior and he isn’t just being a jerk with the intent to be hurtful.
Thinking about alternative reasons for someone’s behavior or realizing there may be outside circumstances you don’t know about doesn’t mean you are condoning their behavior or accepting how you’re being treated. What this does is allow you to take the situation less personally and you may feel less angry as a result.
Reframing your thoughts through considering possible alternatives can help you change your initial extreme reaction to something healthier and more appropriate. This type of change takes practice, so be patient with yourself. You are literally changing your entire thought process with this.
It is also important to remember that your feelings are valid. The purpose of reframing your thoughts is not to invalidate your experience and feelings. This simply allows you to look at a situation in a more objective way, and think about the entire situation versus just how you are feeling in that moment.
How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?
When your emotions are intense and overwhelming, it is difficult to approach any situation without allowing your emotions to run and control your behavior.
Listen to your emotions and what they are trying to tell you. Then focus on healthy coping methods.
Write them all down. I love writing and answering these questions in a journal, as I can go back and read it later on from a different place. It becomes easier to observe my thoughts and emotions, and therefore start working with them.
Coping with these emotions can include but are not limited to:
- Writing in your journal
- Going for a walk or another form of exercise
- Venting to someone you trust
- Deep breathing
When you discover how to cope with your emotions in a healthy way, you will find it easier to resolve conflicts, have more confidence and be able to move past setbacks easier, and feel less overwhelmed by your emotions.
The best part about having healthier coping mechanisms is the fact it frees up a lot of your energy! You will likely notice that once you start handling your emotions using these 5 healthy ways to deal with emotions, you have so much more energy to devote to things that make you happy, including relationships. I have found that my personal relationships flourish when I’m in a healthy place because I’m not focused on the negatives and I can express myself when negative emotions do come up.
5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions Notes
I will be the first one to admit that these are things that I’ve struggled with for many years because my mother was a textbook narcissist and was abusive. When I cut her out and started to heal, I realized that I owed it to myself to break that cycle and be better. Because my health and happiness absolutely depended on that. That is why these 5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions are so important to me.
Breaking the cycle of abuse and dealing with emotions in a healthy way is a struggle. This kind of self-improvement is hard work. Be prepared for challenges, setbacks, speed bumps, and just bad days. Because they will happen. You aren’t perfect. But it is so important because it absolutely can affect your quality of life.
The thing I love about journal prompts that help me work on myself is that once I can identify a problem and understand that it is a problem, that is when steps can be taken to start fixing it. That is where growth happens.
You also owe it to yourself to work on that through these 5 healthy ways to deal with emotions. You deserve to be both healthy and happy, and this is an excellent place to start.
These 5 healthy ways to deal with emotions are not always easy, especially if you are just starting this journey. Be patient and kind to yourself. You didn’t win a marathon the first time, right? Or bench press two hundred pounds the first time you walked into a gym. How did you get there? Practice. Constantly practicing and improving. Working on yourself, healing, and changing isn’t any different. It takes practice and lots of it.
Keep practicing and be proud of yourself. Forward is forward, no matter what the speed is. You can do this, and become the happy healthy person you are meant to be! Celebrate the wins, and keep track of your progress, and be proud of the fact you’re taking these positive steps. You’ll likely be amazed at how well you are doing!
5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Emotions Discussion
Do you deal with your emotions in a healthy way? Or is this a struggle for you too? What steps are you taking to work on this? Do you have any suggestions I missed in this post? Is there any way I can help support you on your journey? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!