In any given day, you may experience a full range of emotions. Emotions are necessary and can help you avoid dangerous situations, guide your decisions, or motivate you to act in certain ways.
This can be beneficial when you're being influenced by healthy, positive emotions. However, when you consistently make decisions based on fear, anger or other negative emotions, you cloud your perception leading to regretful actions or unsatisfactory outcomes.
By learning to manage your emotions, you experience the emotions as they come, observing them but not becoming consumed or overwhelmed by them. The first step in managing your emotions is to understand them. Emotions are actually quite primitive in nature. Emotions reside in the limbic system, which regulates such things as long-term memory, learning and motivation. Emotions are linked to memories and experiences, which is why we often tend to remember very emotionally charged events from the past.
Part of managing your emotions is to fully experience them, even if they are painful or uncomfortable. Emotions are essentially transient in nature. Think of your emotions like waves in the ocean. Emotions emerge from your subconscious, rise until they crest, and eventually collapse again.
Although it's easier to suppress or avoid feelings of sadness, hurt or anger - doing so only creates further problems. The more you try to suppress or avoid an emotion, the more likely you are to prolong your suffering or to amplify it. Think of your suppressed emotion as a cork being held under water. While you may be able to keep the cork submerged for a limited time, the pressure eventually becomes too great, causing the cork to explode from the surface of the water with great force. If you simply allowed the cork to float without any resistance, the cork would easily navigate its way through the changing tides.
When you express your emotions, you are less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. You are also better able to foster healthier relationships with yourself and others as a result.
Here are three ways to help manage your emotions:
1. Just Breathe. When an unpleasant thought or situation arises, simply take a few full, deep breaths. Deep, mindful breathing helps to calm your nervous system and relieve stress and anxiety. Breathe in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale fully and slowly through your mouth. After a few rounds of deep breathing, check back in to see if your emotions have subsided.
2. Bring Awareness to Your Emotions. Throughout the day, you're going to experience a myriad of different emotions. Practice identifying your emotions as they arise. Remember that you aren't your emotions, you simply feel your emotions. Avoid language such as, "I'm angry." Instead say, "I feel angry." Then ask yourself what you would rather feel instead. Is there anything that you could do in that moment to make yourself feel better?
3. Stop and Think Before Responding. Instead of reacting, choose to pause for a moment and just breathe. In that moment that you're breathing, ask yourself if this is really a battle that you need to fight, or whether you can choose to let it go. See if your reaction fades away. If not, you can always come back to the situation once you've had a few moments to cool down.
4. Use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT, also known as Tapping, is a healing modality that's a cross between Western Psychology and Eastern Acupressure. Your body is comprised of twelve main meridian points, each corresponding to a different organ system within your body. Meridians are invisible channels that carry energy throughout your body. Negative emotions cause a disruption or block in your energy field. EFT is a quick technique used to release these blocks and restore homeostasis.
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