More like a low five for Friday this week, gang. It's been an emotional roller coaster, for no apparent reason. So I decided to focus this H54F on ways to deal with not feeling great emotionally.
I become utterly terrified when big feelings hit me out of nowhere, probably because I dealt with some very overwhelming and challenging things at a young age and became engulfed in intense emotions. I was too young to know how to deal with it then, and all I wanted to do was NOT FEEL... so I immersed myself in books, TV, ANYTHING to make the feelings stop.
But since I was so scared to feel, intense feelings still freak me out when they pop up seemingly unprovoked, as they did this week. With all the work I've done in the past two years, I still struggle to just accept my emotions and let them come and go. After this week, though, I think I have more insight into how panicking over my feelings makes things worse, while just accepting them helps me to return to a calm state quicker.
ANYWAY, here are 5 things to try if you are caught up in big emotions too:
- Try not to judge them. This is a huge hurdle for me--I mean, I was an English major twice over--analyzing things to death is mah jam! But when emotions start swirling and I heap the "oh no why is this happening what am I doing wrong what should I be doing??" thoughts on top, I panic. My therapist is always urging me to validate my thoughts and feelings, and I tried that instead this week: "It's ok that I'm feeling sad. It's O.K." Doing so seemed to help.
- Aromatherapy. I picked this guy up at Reading Terminal last week, and I've been using it to death ever since. Relaxing scents help to ground me, to pull me out of my head/emotions, and back to reality .
- Remind yourself that feelings do pass. This is incredibly hard for me to remember in the height of anxiety or sadness, and it's why suicide has looked so appealing in the past. "I feel horrible and I'll always feel this way." That is simply not true. This too shall pass.
- The Pacifica app. Nicole mentioned it last week, and I promptly gave it a whirl. It's like therapy in an app; I'm so impressed thus far. You can chronicle how you feel throughout the day (a great way to get empirical data that this too DOES pass) and try out soundscapes and breathing exercises. But perhaps most interesting is the Thoughts exercise, where you write down how you feel in the height of big emotions, and then the app guides you through turning those negative statements around to more loving and realistic ones. I tried Thoughts out Wednesday night after my rough afternoon, and it was so interesting to see exactly where my brain goes when I panic, and how I can re-frame the situation.
- Meditations. I actually printed a few scripts from here and recorded them on my phone. Supposedly, meditations are very effective when they're in your own voice. Huh! I'm willing to give that theory a shot. If nothing else, reading the mediation scripts out loud is a relaxing exercise!
I hope that these suggestions are helpful; they certainly helped me through a rough Wednesday. Hopefully, this weekend will be better for me. (I have a yoga class with my favorite teacher, so that certainly seems promising!) Have a great weekend everybody! xoxo