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6 ways to manage negative feelings and emotions

How do you cope when difficult emotions hit you?

Difficult can mean different things for different people: for some, feelings like anger, frustration or anxiety are extremely hard to manage. But for others, receiving love from another person or pride might cause more discomfort. If you’re anything like me, perhaps exhaustion is the thing that’s troubling you most!

Whichever emotions are affecting you, learning how to work through them in a healthy way is important. Here are six things you can try next time you’re struggling to deal with a negative feeling.

🦋Accept the feelings

One of the best things you can do is simply to accept the way you are feeling. After all, life is full of ups and downs, and difficult feelings are part of that.

Fighting against our emotions often ends up in a game of tug of war. The more you try to pull back from them, the stronger they seem to get.

But accepting the good with the bad, including your feelings and emotions, can be very empowering.

A woman leans against a tree in a forest with her eyes closed. Accepting feelings.
Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

🦋Focus on the impact of the feeling so that you can understand it better

Even uncomfortable feelings can be helpful as they can communicate to us that one of our needs is not being met. So rather than suppressing it or wishing it will go away - which can make the feeling get even bigger and more difficult to manage - sit with your feeling and try to figure out what it could be telling you.

For example, you might have a meeting coming up that you’re worried about, and it’s caused you to lash out in other areas of your life. Or maybe, something you’ve signed up for isn’t in alignment with your values, and it’s causing discomfort or unease.

This exercise will allow you to figure out practical steps to take to solve the problem and process your difficult emotion.

🦋Name the feeling

This can be tricky, because it requires you to use a totally different part of your brain. But stepping back and thinking about the feeling rather than simply feeling it is a very useful way of reducing the power it has over you.

Remember as well that there might be several different emotions at play. You can be both angry and sad, or frustrated and anxious.

Loneliness spelled out with scrabble letters, a small figurine faces away in the background. Naming feelings can help to reduce the power they have over you.
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

🦋Where can you feel it in your body?

It’s really helpful to try to discover where in your body you can feel your emotion, because this stops you from ruminating on it. You move the feeling from something you’re thinking about to something you’re..well…feeling!

So scan down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Are your facial muscles clenched? Does your throat feel sore or tight? How about your chest? Or the muscles in your arms and legs? Identify the areas of tension or discomfort then try to relax the muscles to help yourself feel better.

🦋Reflect on what could have triggered the emotion

Understanding what caused you to feel like this is another way that you can begin to make positive steps in feeling better. As I mentioned above, difficult emotions often crop up because one of our needs isn’t being met.

A good place to start is to retrace your steps: what’s happened so far today? Who did you talk to? Did you get enough sleep last night? And what do you have coming up in the future?

Sometimes writing this down can help even more. Regular journaling can help you change the way you think so that difficult feelings and emotions become much easier to cope with. You can even use techniques to create new thought processes in your brain so that you no longer experience those negative thoughts and feelings that have been affecting you in the past.

🦋Remember that thoughts and feelings are temporary

Just because you feel like this now, doesn’t mean you always will. Thoughts and feelings are temporary, so even if nothing is working to help you feel better right now, don’t lose hope of feeling better later on.

Take yourself back to that first point of accepting the feeling, and soon enough you’ll find yourself feeling better.

A dandelion's seeds float away. Remember that thoughts and feelings are temporary.
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

Do you need help managing your emotions?

If you’ve been struggling with complex and difficult feelings and would like some help navigating this, journaling could provide a positive step forward. For help getting started, why not sign up for my free 5-day journaling email series?

Over the course of 5 days, I’ll teach you how to journal effectively so that you can stay consistent and enjoy the many benefits of the practice, including a greater understanding of your emotions and how you can start to feel better. Click here to receive your first email today.


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