How To Process Emotions

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January 2, 2019

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.

click here to watch my video on 5 Healthy Ways You Can Process Your Feelings

1. See A Therapist

Your therapist is skilled at helping you process emotions effectively. Talking with a professional is a key way to do this. To change our thinking patterns, we must first understand why we process information as we do. This involves asking questions like: What triggered us? How did we feel when triggered? Can we think of other perspectives on that trigger?

For instance, imagine asking your partner about dinner and receiving a response with a tone. Your initial reaction might be defensiveness. Instead, consider if your partner intended the tone or if it was unrelated to you. Communicate with them about the tone rather than reacting defensively.

Therapists excel at active listening and guiding you through your thoughts. Together, you can navigate emotions and work as a team to find answers.”

how to process your feelings, how to cope, therapy in philadelphia, philadelphia therapist, sex therapy institute, couples therapy, marriage counseling, yardley pa, newtown pa2. 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. Bilateral stimulation involves engaging both sides of the brain to process emotions and experiences. One way to achieve this is through walking, where the rhythmic movement of the body stimulates both hemispheres of the brain. As you walk, your brain processes sensory input from your surroundings while also focusing on your physical movement, creating a conducive environment for processing thoughts and feelings. This bilateral stimulation can aid in calming the mind, reducing anxiety, and facilitating emotional processing, making walking a beneficial activity for mental well-being.

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! When we listen to music, it activates various areas of the brain associated with emotions, memory, and reward. This activation can help us connect with and express our feelings more effectively. Additionally, certain types of music, like calming melodies or upbeat rhythms, can influence our mood and help regulate emotions. By engaging with music, we tap into a powerful tool that not only enhances our emotional processing but also promotes overall well-being.

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.

how to process your feelings, how to cope, therapy in philadelphia, philadelphia therapist, sex therapy institute, couples therapy, marriage counseling, yardley pa, newtown pa, marriage therapy, sex therapy4. Journal

Journaling is always my first recommendation when it comes to questions about processing feelings. It’s a powerful tool for processing emotions, supported by brain science. Writing about our thoughts and feelings engages cognitive processes related to self-reflection and emotional regulation. This introspection helps us understand experiences, gain clarity on emotions, and identify patterns or triggers. Research shows that regular journaling reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts mental well-being. By putting our thoughts on paper, we tap into the brain’s self-awareness and emotional processing abilities, making journaling a valuable practice for personal growth and resilience.

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.

how to process your feelings, how to cope, therapy in philadelphia, philadelphia therapist, sex therapy institute, couples therapy, marriage counseling, yardley pa, newtown pa, marriage therapy, sex therapy5. 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.

Drawing feelings is a beneficial method for processing emotions, supported by brain science. When we draw, it activates parts of the brain associated with creativity, visual processing, and emotional expression. This process allows us to externalize our feelings in a non-verbal way, making it easier to understand and manage complex emotions. Research indicates that artistic activities like drawing can reduce stress, enhance mood, and improve overall mental well-being. By using art to express emotions, we engage the brain’s capacity for creative expression and emotional processing, making drawing a valuable tool for emotional well-being and self-discovery.

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!

6. Meditation

Meditation is a wonderful skill to practice and, without a doubt, it will help you cope. When we meditate, we activate brain regions associated with self-awareness, emotional regulation, and attention. This focused attention allows us to observe our feelings without judgment, fostering a deeper understanding and acceptance of them. Research shows that regular meditation reduces stress, anxiety, and negative emotions while enhancing positive mood and overall well-being. By practicing meditation, we strengthen neural pathways related to emotional processing and resilience, making it an effective tool for managing and processing feelings in a healthy way.

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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