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Techniques For Managing Difficult Emotions

Introduction

Learning to manage feelings and emotions is a vital skill for today and in the future. Our feelings impact the way that we behave and what we think about.  If we have trouble managing our feelings, we are at greater risk of inappropriate or embarrassing emotional outbursts, feeling distracted by our thoughts, or feeling like we have a hard time connecting with others.  Here are some tips that you can practice to help you get better at managing your feelings.  Even if you are already using some of these skills, there is always room for improvement when it comes to managing feelings – most adults still need to think about these techniques and maybe even practice them once and a while.

Identify the feeling

What are you experiencing? Can you name it? If not, can you describe it? Getting familiar with your emotions will help you understand what you are feeling and help you decide how to handle it and communicate it with others.

Acceptance

Some people find it very unpleasant when they experience certain feelings; like anger or sadness. And sometimes those people try to avoid even letting themselves be aware of these unpleasant emotions. But, acknowledging and accepting that you feel an undesirable emotion will not make it stronger or more intense.  It’s important to know that the more we avoid our emotions the more intense they can become. This often leads to situations when our emotions overwhelm us and we have difficulty managing them. Or at other times, the emotion might express itself in other indirect ways. In any case, it is almost always better to let yourself be aware of how and what you are feeling.

Express the feeling

A few healthy ways to express your feelings include: writing about your experience, this is sometimes called “journaling”; talk about your experience with someone you feel comfortable with; you can cry if you need to, this can feel like an emotional release when you are alone or with someone you trust; or any other activity that allows you to let out your feelings as long as it is not harmful to you or anyone else.

Use a healthy strategy to take care of yourself

Find an activity that helps you feel better in the moment.  This could involve deep breathing, talking to someone you trust for support, taking a nap or a shower (if time allows), exercising, reading, or going for a walk.  Find what works best for you when you are feeling upset. But be aware that what works for you might be different than what works for your friends or peers.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text HOME to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, text or call 988.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.

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