Since the beginning of COVID-19, you’ve probably experienced a lot of feelings. Have you taken time to process them?
Most people don’t take time to think specifically about what emotions they feel. However, doing so can vastly improve your ability to cope with challenging situations. According to one study, individuals who are good at specifically identifying and labeling their emotions are less likely to self-injure, binge drink or become physically aggressive when distressed.
Owning your emotions is a crucial part of establishing positive mental health and like most things, you can become better at it with practice. Check out these seven tips provided by Mental Health America.
Tips for Success
- Allow yourself to feel. When we feel emotions, especially negative ones, many of us try to suppress them. This suppression is often caused by societal pressures (we’ve all heard the terms “big girls don’t cry” and “man up”) or because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable. Feelings are a part of the human experience and it’s okay to feel them, no matter who you are.
- Don’t ignore how you’re feeling. Don’t “bottle up” your emotions. Pushing your feelings aside can cause them to gain strength and make you more likely to “explode” later. If you’re unable to address your feelings in the moment, try to do so as soon as possible.
- Talk it out. Find someone you trust and share how you’re feeling with them, no matter how bad you feel. Studies show strong social support systems improve mental health and our ability to manage stress.
- Try Journaling. Journaling can help you learn how to identify your feeling and help you become comfortable expressing them. At night, write down three things you felt that day and what caused you to feel those things. This practice doesn’t need to take long. Simply write down a few sentences or create a bulleted list.
- Build your emotional vocabulary. The English language has more than 3,000 words for emotions. However, when asked about how we feel, many of us only reply with words like “good, bad, sad, mad or fine.” Try expanding your emotional vocabulary by writing down as many “feeling” words as you can think of and identifying times when you felt those things.
- Consider the strength of your feelings. A helpful trick in identifying how you’re feeling is to think about how strongly you feel. Oftentimes, what you first thought you felt could often be better described using another word. For example, a person might say they’re stressed out, but really, it’s less severe and they are actually experiencing annoyance. Alternatively, a person might feel anger, but it’s more severe and more accurately described by a deeper feeling like betrayal.
- See a mental health professional. If you are having trouble dealing with your feelings, mental health providers like counselors and therapists have been trained to help. They can be a strong resource for you to be able to understand what you’re feeling and identify healthy ways to manage those feelings. An online search may lead you to low-cost options in your area. Your employer might also have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provides you with zero- or low-cost access to counseling sessions.
Own your Emotions
Emotions are a part of the human experience. They aren’t something to run from or suppress. By accepting them for what they are and learning to make sense of them, you can tremendously promote your mental health.