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Managing Your Emotions in 3 Simple Steps

You know you shouldn’t necessarily feel this angry, anxious or upset - but you do. As much as you try to talk yourself out of these uncomfortable feelings - you feel out of control.

Emotions are something to be felt & managed, not shut out nor ignored.

First off, it’s important to realize that emotions are not consciously controlled. The part of the brain that controls emotions is the limbic system, which is the most primitive part of the brain. Hence, why our emotions can feel quite direct yet intense. Furthermore, emotions are strongly linked to memory and experience. Understanding this link can greatly help you in managing your emotional response, as you can choose to try and detect the underlying reason (memory, or past experience) for your emotions, and disentangle these things.

Managing your emotions isn't the same as ignoring them. Bottling up your sadness or pretending you don't feel pain won't make those emotions go away.

In fact, unaddressed emotional wounds are likely to get worse over time. And there's a good chance suppressing your feelings will cause you to turn to unhealthy coping skills--like overeating or substance abuse.

1. Label Your Emotions

Before you can change how you feel, you need to acknowledge what you're experiencing right now. Are you scared? Do you feel frustrated? Are you angry?

You’ve got to name it to tame it! Keep in mind you might feel a whole bunch of emotions at once--like anxious, frustrated, and impatient.

Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the uncomfortable “passion” out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.

2. Reframe Your Thoughts

Your emotions affect the way you interpret events. If you're feeling anxious and you get a text from that says she’s canceling dinner plans, you may assume you did something wrong or to offend her. If however, you're feeling happy when you get that same email, your first thought might be that you should try to see what’s the matter so that you can offer your support however best you can.

Consider the emotional filter you're looking at the world through. Then, reframe your thoughts to develop a more realistic view.

If you catch yourself thinking, "My boss never likes what I do, I’m going to get fired," remind yourself, "It's up to me to do my best and regardless of what happens, I am valuable."

Sometimes, the easiest way to gain a different perspective is to take a step back and ask yourself, "What would I say to a friend who had this problem?" Answering that question will take some of the emotion out of the equation so you can think more rationally.

If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, you may need to change the channel in your brain. A quick physical activity, like going for a brisk stroll outside, or even doing the dishes or putting laundry away, can help you stop fretting.

3. Do something that boosts your mood.

When you're in a bad mood, you're likely to engage in activities that keep you in that state of mind. Isolating yourself, mindlessly scrolling through your phone, or complaining to people around you are just a few of the typical "go-to bad mood behaviors" you might feel called to.

But, those things will keep you in the same state of mind. You have to take new, more positive action if you want to feel differently.

Think of the things you do when you feel happy. Do those things when you're in a bad mood and you'll start to feel better.

Here are a few examples of mood boosters:

  • Call a friend to talk about something you’re excited about (not more of the old same blahhh.

  • Go for a walk in nature.

  • Listen to music you enjoy.

  • Look at pictures of happy memories.

  • Use enjoyable aromatherapy.

  • Take a bath.

Emotional Management Is a Continuous Journey!

Managing your emotions is sometimes difficult. And there will likely be some emotions--for instance, anger--that sometimes get the better of you.

But the more you consciously practice regulating your emotions, the mentally stronger you'll become. You'll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make loving actions that shift your mood for the upside!

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