One of the most common issues people bring to our sessions is not knowing how to get through their feelings. We therapists call this processing. For many of us, feeling our feelings is not something we have much experience with. Sadness, anger, fear and grief, can be confusing emotions that have the capability of completely weighing us down. It’s torture. If you’re learning how to cope, keep reading and try these 5 healthy way you can process your feelings.
1. See A Therapist
Talking out your thoughts with a professional is one way to process your feelings. Therapists are experts in active listening and in helping you make sense of what’s going on in your head. Together you form a team that is on a mission to find answers to your questions. Just talking out loud and labeling your emotions will alleviate negative responses in your brain.
2. Take A Walk
Walking can be a very effective way of processing feelings. Not only does it get you out of your current environment, it also is natural way of prompting bilateral stimulation.
Many certified therapists use bi-lateral stimulation (EMDR) as a form of trauma therapy recovery. This is a stimuli (visual, auditory or tactile) which occurs in a rhythmic left-right pattern. You’ll notice that if you go for a walk and focus deliberately on distressing emotions and events, you might experience some rapid eye movement followed by a release of the upsetting feelings. This is your brain processing. *Note: walking is not a substitute for EMDR or trauma therapy and should not be used as such. If you are attempting to process trauma, please reach out to one of our trauma-informed therapists.
3. Listen To Music
We tend to listen to music that reflects our mood. When we’re happy we turn on music that brings us joy. When we are anxious or angry, the music we choose to play connects to those feelings. Not only can music reflect your current mood, but it also has the ability to change your mood! Next time you’re feeling angry, try listening to something calm or upbeat and see what a difference it makes!
Furthermore, you can learn a lot about your own emotions through your taste in music. If you’re ever unsure of what you’re feeling, ask yourself, “what am I in the mood to listen to?” That will provide some insight into your mind.
Journaling is always my first recommendation when it comes to questions about processing feelings. People who get their emotions down on paper, experience noticeable improvement in their physical and emotional well-being. Remember my blog How Insight About The Left & Right Brain Can Lead To Euphoria? Well emotions sit in the right brain and writing occurs in the left. When you write down your feelings, you are literally helping your brain process from only feeling, to something much more logical, writing.
5. Draw Your Feelings
Just like speaking or writing, art is a form of expressing your emotions. Being creative and enabling yourself to emote in a more artistically expressive way can help people to reduce stress, resolve conflicts, improve self-esteem, and achieve other important self-identifying insights. If you’re of the artistic mind, next time you’re feeling something that you’re not quite sure how to process, take out that paint brush or those color pencils and see what comes up for you!
Meditation is a wonderful skill to practice and, without a doubt, it will help you cope. My newest favorite is the app Headspace. If you want to purchase the paid version, they have 30-day courses that can take you from a basics program all the way to courses on performance anxiety, cravings, negative self talk, grief, and more.
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