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Managing Intense Emotions

All of us have big feelings sometimes. Intense emotions are a part of life. These tips might help you cultivate your skillset to navigate through your feelings without giving in to impulsive actions that can turn a hard problem into a serious one.

The most important thing to recognize is that you aren’t alone! EVERYONE goes through this, and there is nothing wrong or abnormal about struggling with your emotions. It’s part of being human! One thing to work on is recognizing when you’re struggling. You might cry uncontrollably. You might struggle to speak. Maybe feelings of anxiety start to take over, or you possibly experience panic attacks. The key is just being able to recognize the experience of having an intense emotion rather than trying to ignore it or push the feeling away. When we do that, many times we have a “rebound” effect, meaning that if we stuff our emotions they’re just going to explode in another way, in another time, and that can hurt us or the people around us.

The only way out is through. Sometimes an act of self-care is just giving yourself the time and space you need to feel what you feel. The good news is that feelings won’t last forever, and riding out these big emotions like you’re surfing a wave, the intensity of them will lessen.

Change your focus. If you’ve tried everything and it’s not working, some people recommend eating a lemon slice, smelling essential oils or herbs, or holding your hands under cold water for a few minutes just to “shock” your system into a different state. A more gentle approach might be to put on some music that makes you happy, or watch a comfort show while the feelings subside. It’s important not to make it a habit to always distract yourself away from big emotions, rather, to return to the issue when you’re feeling a little better so that you can deal with the cause of the emotion when the sensations of the emotions are not so heightened in your body.

Find an outlet. Just because you can’t solve a problem at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t find a healthy outlet for those big feelings. Writing poetry, journaling, painting, improv theater, dancing, skateboarding, running, etc., can be channeled to let those emotions out of your body and mind, or to find a way to express them so that you aren’t hurting yourself or acting impulsively.

Talk about it. The number one most important thing to do if you find that you often struggle with big emotions: talk about it. Find a trusted friend, a parent, a teacher, or a guidance counselor, or talk about it in a Give Us The Floor group chat. You may need to say “I need comfort, I’m not looking to fix anything,” before sharing the issue at hand, depending on what you need at the time, but the simple act of sharing an experience can be tremendously helpful. You’ll probably find that the people you are talking to have had a similar experience. Just knowing that you aren’t alone can make a huge difference in your well-being, and it’s something you can remember the next time you feel overwhelmed by intense emotions.