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It’s All About Emotional Regulation—How to Tackle Your Feelings Head-On

People tend to numb out feelings, especially negative ones that come with anxiety, loneliness, depression, anger, hurt, and guilt. In the hopes of escaping those feelings that they don’t want to deal with, people often turn to distractions.

However, experts reveal that this is not the best coping mechanism. Instead, it will turn out counterproductive as the negative feelings you put aside will just grow.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Emotional regulation involves acknowledging and dealing with your emotions healthily. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Ryan Howes, the process of feeling your feelings has two parts: encountering the emotion and then choosing whether to deal with it or ignore it.

If you’re having a hard time managing your feelings right now, here are some therapist-approved strategies to deal with your emotions head-on.

fizkes/Shutterstock | Let yourself feel and acknowledge whatever feelings you encounter.

Discover How You Numb Emotions

Numbing behavior pertains to things you intentionally or unintentionally do to avoid facing your emotions. Oftentimes, it’s through engaging in distractions like immersive entertainment such as video games, food, drugs, and alcohol. It can also be through more discreet actions like busying yourself, filling your schedule, or meddling with other people’s business because you don’t want to deal with your own. You can still enjoy distractions but in moderation. However, be careful not to blur the lines between healthy and unhealthy.

Identify Your Feelings

A lot of people are quick to judge or brush off a new feeling that may strike them. With the complexities of emotions, it’s important to take time to determine what you’re experiencing and why you’re feeling it. Explore any negative emotion with curiosity, not with judgment.

Don’t Judge Your Emotions

When an emotion is triggered from within, you may tend to dismiss, discredit, or feel ashamed for feeling it. However, you need to give your self some compassion. It’s tough, but try to let yourself feel the emotion without explanation, adding another emotion, or judging yourself.

Aleshyn_Andrei/Shutterstock | Don’t be too hard on yourself when emotions overcome you.

Figure Out What These Feelings are Trying to Tell You

There are times that you need to observe your emotions to find out how to deal with it. Psychology professor Dr. John Grych of Marquette University says that tuning into your emotions can help you identify what you need at that moment and how to act on them.

Mindfully and Safely Express Your Feelings

Once you already identified and observed your emotions, a great way to respond is by expressing it instead of just keeping it to yourself. The ways on how to do it may vary for each person, though. Some may prefer to share their sentiments to a friend, some may want to write down their feelings on a journal, others may cry, while some may do random things like dance or clean. Do whatever makes you feel like you’re working through your emotions.

According to Howes, many don’t realize that not having to suppress emotions gives you relief. Letting out emotions mindfully from time to time also prevents us from lashing out on someone or adopting destructive behavior when you finally reach your boiling point.

Focus On Physical Sensations

If your emotional distress becomes too much, try turning to physical sensations to remedy that. When we engage our bodies, Grych says that it will help you work through our emotions. You can try exercising, going outside, or taking a shower.

Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock | When things are overwhelming, distract yourself with physical sensations you get from activities like exercising.

Use Distractions Smartly and with Intentions

Distracting yourself is the most tempting way to manage your emotions. We can’t just express our feelings all the time because it can be exhausting. Distractions can be useful. Howes says that one should find something that can take their mind off the stress. However, you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying it. Doing that will only make you feel worse.

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