Emotions are a funny thing. We're taught that some are good and some are bad as kids, but we're not really taught how to process them that well. Then we grow up and wonder why nearly half of America over the age of 12 is on pharmaceutical drugs, and millions more are addicted to other illegal drugs and alcohol. All of these are often used numbing agents, ways to avoid or escape emotional pain.
So, it's time to help ourselves and get the tools necessary to our emotions when they come up. If we know how to manage them, then we don't have to rely on any substance in order to run from them.
When something happens and we get upset, we go from the Frontal Lobe (the area where we have creativity, problem solving, judgement, memory) to our Limbic System which is responsible for activating fight or flight response in our nervous systems, according to Bessel Van Der Kolk, a leading Psychiatrist in Trauma treatment. So, we need tools to bring us back from that archaic state, and back into our rational, reasonable selves. Here are some of the best ways that I know how:
This might be one you've been recommended before and don't feel like doing. I get it. But, if you're getting overrun by your emotions and stress - this is your outlet, and it's a better escape than alcohol or weed. Bessel Van Der Kolk states in this video that studies have shown that yoga is better for treating PTSD than medication. Wow! That's a powerful statement.
Bottomline, emotions are in our bodies chemically, in our nervous systems, right down to the cellular level - So we need to start there. Think of it like a tub filling up with water, so too are our emotions in our bodies. Every time we exercise we open the drain and let some out before it overflows. If you feel that pressure building, do yourself (and those around you) a favour and exercise in any way you like - and let that energy release from your body.
Something most of us actually know breath for (besides regular breathing) is taking a deep breath - It's probably the easiest way to calm down. Breathing is something many people have instinctively told one another in order to relax.
Whether you stop at deep breathing or explore the plethora of other incredible breathing techniques such as Clarity Breathwork or Pranayama, breathing has the power to transform and it can bring your body and mind back to a calmer state.
3 Go Outside
Studies have shown that going outside and being in nature has very therapeutic effects. After 15 minutes, one study led by Yoshifumi Miyazaki found their subjects experienced a "16 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 2 percent drop in blood pressure, and a 4 percent drop in heart rate" .
So, going outside is very likely to help you calm down and allow the emotions to settle or pass. Going outside for a run - even better! Now you've got two mechanisms working in your favour to clear your mind and release any negative energy.
*Mind you, you've got to be willing and intent on letting the emotions pass, otherwise storming around outside and ruminating on how 'mad' you are isn't going to help. Obviously, lol.
Yeah, I know you might dread this morning routine, but in essence, it is like cleaning your room - for your mind. Most of us envision meditation in the traditional way, sitting crossed-legged on a mat. But in a modified way - anything that requires all of your concentration, be it rock climbing, playing a high intensity sport, creating a piece of art with total abandon - any of these are a form of meditation because they take us out of our ever-chattering minds. To me, everything is fluid and we don't have to be strict or traditional in order to gain many of the benefits.
So, find your preferred form of meditation and it will seem less like a chore or something that 'everyone talks about', and more like your personal happy place.
5 Observe them
Observe and question your emotions - "Wait a minute, what am I really mad about?". Once you're able to observe them, that awareness alone creates space between your feelings and your identity. Recognize you're a channel for your emotions and de-personalize them. You are not angry, you feel angry. There's a difference to your identity there.
From that space you can evaluate them and get to the root cause of the emotion (ex: "I'm so mad he's late" might really be "I feel hurt because I interpret his actions to mean that I'm not important or not respected"). Then you can evaluate if your core feelings are valid or projected (more on this in Are Your Feelings a Lie? ). When you do all this you are effectively raising your EQ!
Give these a try and let me know how they go for you. Or share your favourite approaches for managing your emotions in the comments below.
~Wishing you a peaceful road, wherever it may take you <3