5 ways to Identify and Manage your emotions

Abby Clark, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern

Humans have myriads of feelings in their bodies every day. Yet in our fast-paced culture, slowing down and noticing our feelings is an exercise few people engage in, and most, aware of it or not, avoid. We avoid feeling our feelings for different reasons. Sometimes, they are too painful; sometimes, we are so busy we don’t think we have time to feel them; and sometimes, we have disconnected ourselves from our feelings because they are overwhelming. Distracting ourselves from feeling is quite easy. Endless scrolling on our phones, drinking alcohol until we feel relaxed, smoking cannabis to ease anxiety, or overworking to distract ourselves are some ways we do this. Is there any benefit to feeling our feelings?  Yes.  Counseling is one of the resources some people utilize to do just that.

To heal, you have to feel. Emotions, which we first encounter as bodily sensations (e.g., tight chest, butterflies in our stomach), communicate honestly how we are experiencing life. We are integrated humans; our bodies, minds, and emotions are meant to live together and inform one another. When we take the time to listen to our bodies, they will tell us what we need. If you are unsure of this try this exercise, one you might learn from a therapist or in counseling, for one week and see what you discover.

1. Notice the bodily sensation, locate where it is in your body, and what it feels like. (e.g., a squeezing in the throat that makes me feel like I can’t get a good breath)
2. Name the emotion connected to the sensation. (e.g., fear, sadness, frustration)
3. Accept the emotion without judgment. (e.g., I am feeling sad, and that is okay)
4. Be curious about the emotion. (e.g., are there other times I have felt this way-what was happening)
5. Let the feeling do what it needs. (e.g., tears, deep sighs, shaking out the body)

Emotions are not always pleasant, but they do communicate to us what is going on in our bodies and what we need if we take the time to listen. Will you take the time?