Emotions are a normal part of life. I don’t think it’s normal to be happy all the time. It’s natural to feel depression, anxiety, sadness, grief, and anger at certain times in our lives. What I have found is that often it’s not the negative emotions that are bad, it’s that we don’t deal with them and let them linger in our minds.
Here are some things which have helped me when I haven’t been feeling great. I hope they help you, too.
1. No feeling is ‘wrong’.
There seems to be a common belief that negative emotions are “bad”, that we shouldn’t get angry, lose our temper, or ever get upset. Here’s the thing, though – our emotions are there for a reason. It’s natural for us to be angry or sad, the important thing is to find a healthy way of letting them all out, including the ones we have considered ‘bad’.
2. Emotions are always telling us something.
Hiding somewhere beneath the surface, we might feel not good enough, unsupported, or perhaps be grieving the loss of something or someone important to us. Listen to those feelings, and respond compassionately. If something is bothering you, ask yourself why. You’ll often find it’s something deeper than what you envisioned initially; and once you get to the root of the cause, it’s always easier to remedy.
3. Give yourself what you need.
Whether it’s a day on the couch with your favorite tv show or movie, snuggling up in bed with a good book, a hot cup of tea, or a warm bath – you know what you need. Slow down and take some time to do what nourishes you. The world won’t stop if you have a day off and relax. We live in a society of gritting your teeth and ‘getting on with it’, but self care is necessary. Taking time to slow down and listen to your soul and body may seem like it will be counter-productive, but I promise if you incorporate this into your lifestyle, it will work out better for you in the long run. I promise.
4. Crying is good.
So many people respond to someone crying with “don’t cry”. They think they’re being helpful, but it’s commonly said because crying makes them feel uncomfortable. Think back to times when you’ve cried and how you felt afterwards. Chances are you felt better – lighter and relieved. Let yourself cry; it’s not a weakness – it’s a natural release and you’ll pretty much always feel better afterwards.
5. All feelings pass.
You’ve heard it before, and it’s such an important quote to me that I have it engraved on a ring I wear as a reminder – this, too, shall pass. It’s true, though, it may not feel like it, but all things pass. Happiness won’t last, and neither will negative feelings. Emotions are energy in motion. So the best we can do is feel them, and allow them. It’s okay to not feel happy every day. You’re human. But by the same token, it’s not normal to feel sadness and despair every day. If this is the case, I encourage you to see a doctor or a therapist.
6. A suppressed emotion will only get worse.
When you try to ignore a feeling, it’ll only get more intense and urgent as time goes on. It’s much easier to let the emotion out than try to push it down and hide it. If you keep forcing it away, eventually it’ll become a volcano inside you and will have to erupt; most likely scalding the ones you love most.
7. It’s normal to go through a range of different emotions during a day.
Have you noticed how pets can go from laying in the corner looking depressed, to bright and perky all within the hour? We all go through a range of emotions. We are trying to fit into this society where many believe they are ‘too busy to feel bad’. It is both normal and natural to experience an array of different emotions on a daily basis. You’re not crazy, you’re human.
8. Emotions are energy in motion.
So get moving. Walk and talk with someone you love, or even better – buy a punching bag or take up running, weight training or yoga. Whatever makes you feel good and gives you the release you need. Find something to channel your negative emotions into. It doesn’t have to be expensive, you can hit a pillow if it makes you feel better. Find passive ways to get your aggression out. Physical release is powerful, and finding a healthy way to let your emotions out without hurting anyone, including yourself, is a tremendously helpful gift to have.
9. Give yourself space to feel what you feel.
Walk away if you’re angry. Take some time out. Allow space for your sadness; if that means cancelling your afternoon plans and curling up with a movie, do that. Let yourself really feel what you need to feel, knowing it’ll pass once it’s done.
10. Substance only masks the issue.
If you’re over-eating/having a cigarette/drinking alcohol/popping pills every time you start to feel something you don’t want to feel, you’ll end up with a habit on your hands. You likely won’t feel any happier and your feelings will be more intense when you’re not on the substance. It’s a band-aid solution and you know it. If there’s something unhealthy you do when you’re upset, try asking yourself what you’re feeling before you indulge. Simply asking and answering honestly is a big step to success.
11. Get outside.
Nature is balancing; allow it to balance you. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass or sand. Or just take your lunch to the park. Get outside when you usually wouldn’t. You’ll feel much better for it.