Researchers have observed that people who are able to specifically identify their emotions are less likely to binge drink, be physically aggressive, or injure themselves when distressed.* It can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you are feeling them especially during stressful times such as the current pandemic. Many people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with but taking the time to really identify what you are feeling can help you to better cope with all sorts of challenging situations.
Consider trying some of these tips to better identify and acknowledge your feelings:
- Don’t bottle up your feelings. Sometimes there are societal pressures that encourage people to shut down their emotions, often expressed through statements like, “Big girls don’t cry,” or “Man up.” Truly shutting down your emotions is not helpful. Everyone has emotions, they are part of the human experience and it is healthy to acknowledge them.
- Don’t ignore how you’re feeling. When we try to push feelings aside without addressing them, they can build and make us more likely to “explode” at some point in the future. It may not always be appropriate to express your emotions at the very moment you are feeling them but try to do so as soon as you can.
- Talk it out. Find someone you trust that you can talk to about how you are feeling. You may find that people are eager to share about similar experiences they’ve had or times that they have felt the way you are feeling. This can be helpful, but if you’re only interested in having someone listen, it’s okay to tell them that you just need a listening ear.
- Try writing it down. Each night write down at least 3 feelings you had over the course of the day and what caused them. It doesn’t need to be a “Dear Diary” kind of thing. Just a few sentences or bullet points to help you practice being comfortable with identifying and acknowledging your emotions.
- You might want to see a counselor. If you are taking steps to be more aware of and acknowledge your feelings, but are having trouble dealing with them, counselors and therapists have been trained to help. Your employer might have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers a limited number of free counseling sessions. If you don’t have an EAP through work, the leaders of your local religious organizations like churches, synagogues and mosques may offer counseling.
Remember, Solvista Health is your community behavioral health center and has a wide variety of mental health and substance use services that might be right for you such as virtual support groups or individual counseling. If you are feeling alone and isolated, reach out. We have mental health professionals available 24/7, just call, 719-275-2351. Or, you can text the Colorado Crisis line by texting TALK to 38255.
*Transforming Unpleasant Experience by Perceiving Distinctions in Negativity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0963721414550708#