There are times in our lives when emotional pain is unavoidable. Resisting the energy of our emotions can create greater problems in our body, minds and spirits. Learning how to navigate emotional turbulence effectively is a highly individual experience, however there are some universal approaches that can help make the process less stressful. What follows are 7 tips that I have found beneficial in charting shaky emotional waters, and are particularly helpful for those who have trouble with over-analyzing their emotions.
1. Let Yourself Cry About It.
Many adults, both men and women, tend to bottle emotions which prevents them from being processed from the body and as such become stored in our cells as frustrated energy. Crying releases the tension of the energy in the body and allows for the negative memories to be transferred through the release of your tears. Pain must be moved through not skipped lest it come back again to bite us. The only way out is through and tears can sometimes help to lubricate the passage into less turbulent waters.
2. Go Outside.
Nature has a way of helping to transmute negativity. Not only is fresh air good for the brain but the sounds and sights of nature have a calming effect on your brain waves (given your not in the middle of a busy metropolitan area).
3. Write About it.
Journaling is a time honored way of acknowledging your true feelings in an emotional or stressful period. The wonderful thing about a journal is that you don't have to filter yourself, which many people do when they speak to other people out of fear of judgment or rejection. Writing also concretizes the emotional energy and allows your brain to process the information in a more objective way that gets you out of the story and allows you to appraise your emotions more effectively.
4. Nurture Yourself.
There are many ways to go about doing this, some are healthy, others not so much. The best self-nurturance techniques are those that do not further erode the body or mind. So while buying yourself a whole cake and eating it may sound like fun, your body will revolt later. A piece of cake, a bubble bath, watching a string of funny or silly movies, treating yourself to a nice dinner, etc., will give you a sense of fulfillment and mimics being taken care of as a child. This is very important for people with attachment issues from childhood or those who have experienced some kind of relational trauma from their formative years.
5. Identify the Age of the Pain.
When we are in pain it is often a part of our psyches that has not quite caught up to our chronological age that is crying out for attention. The part that is in pain is often a younger part of ourselves that is reliving an early childhood wound and has yet to learn how to integrate the experience. If you can identify how old the part of yourself is that is experiencing the emotional or mental pain you can then talk to that part of yourself and tell it what you would want it to know. Sometimes a trusted therapist can be great for facilitating this kind of deep psychological work, but if you don't have access to a therapist try writing this conversation down as a dialogue between your older and younger self. Comfort the child and assure them that they will be okay and that you will be there for them. A lot of pain for most people comes from a fear of being abandoned and alone in a time of need.
6. Be Kind to Yourself.
This seems obvious but it's one of the most difficult things to do. As adults when we are in emotional pain we tend to berate ourselves for not being stronger, smarter, more resilient, less sensitive, etc. We don't give ourselves permission to feel whatever is coming up and we push it to the side so we can get back to adult functioning. While it's important to tend to our daily obligations, sometimes pain can sabotage our daily lives (particularly when it turns into depression). Be kind to yourself and know that what you're experiencing is okay, perfectly valid, and that you're entitled to feel whatever you're feeling. This also means that you have a responsibility to properly manage your feelings and if you need to learn the skills for how to do that finding a good coach or therapist can help facilitate that.
7. Take Care of Your Body.
In western culture we tend to look to a pharmaceutical solution when pain has gone on for too long. The prescription drug industry has made billions of dollars off of our intolerance for pain and discomfort. Making some simple dietary adjustments can help to facilitate the brain's more successful processing of emotional pain. More vegetables, grains and anti-oxidant rich foods can help the brain to produce more "feel good' hormones. If you need a little outside assistance due to a prolonged state of emotional pain or are prone to depression 5-HTP (great for anxiety and depression), St. John's Wort and Sam-E can be helpful natural substitutes for synthetically produced antidepressants. However, for severe cases traditional medication may be necessary and should be sought without shame or judgment but seen as a temporary relief to restore brain chemical balance. Additionally visiting a massage therapist, doing yoga, or qualified energy healer can help to unblock and process emotional energy stored in your body that you may not be able to access.