Over the past few months, our emotions, or certainly mine, have run the gamut from fear and panic to grief and sadness to relief and hope over and over again. During my lowest points, I wanted nothing more than to escape. But, I knew better than to try to bypass the hard stuff.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I believe the only way to the other side of hard is through it. That requires us to learn how to deal with feelings and process emotions in a healthy way.
How to Deal With Feelings
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Acknowledging Your Feelings
There’s nothing wrong with how we’re feeling. What’s wrong is when we don’t acknowledge how we feel.Kathie Donovan, Happiness Expert
Someone recently reminded me safety is one of the foundational rungs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Not having that security compromises everything else and causes a lack of motivation to pursue higher needs.
As a former teacher I witnessed this reality often. Not only that. Life during the pandemic and protests has brought me to that place of insecurity and not having an ounce of motivation to pursue higher needs.
I had to remind myself often that it’s okay to take care of yourself.
That was easy for me to do since all I had the energy to was sleep. While I didn’t beat myself up for needing rest, and taking it, it was so hard for me to sit back and watch as other people led the way and shared encouragement during the midst of isolation and staying home.
Feeling helpless eventually got to me. There was about a three week period of time, we’ll just call it May, when I was really struggling with depression and anxiety. I wondered why I couldn’t just shake it off when it finally occurred to me. I needed to acknowledge those feelings and give them their proper space.
So, I set out to soothe my soul.
Learning to Self Regulate Emotions
I’ve adopted several self soothing techniques into my daily life as I’ve learned how to deal with feelings.
I have to say yoga really taught me how to deal with feelings. It introduced me to mindfulness and staying connected to my body through my breath. I couldn’t help but develop a sense of awe over how marvelous our bodies are. Realizing what care our Creator put into these earthly vessels made me want to pay closer attention and take better care of my body.
My interest in meditation grew from there.
I don’t do it as often as I need to, but sitting still with my thoughts and quietly observing my body and breath goes a long way in calming me.
Meditation has become such a wonderful way to renew my mind, especially when I need to calm heightened emotions.
Rocking on the front porch.
I find the rhythmic motion of the rocker and being surrounded by nature very calming.
You don’t have to have a porch to take advantage of the soothing sights and sounds of nature.
The beach, or watching any body of water, works just as well. So does watching trees sway, or clouds floating across the sky or catching a sunset or sunrise.
Walking barefoot or just standing under the warmth of the sun boosts your mood, too.
Taking a Soaker
Years ago, friends of ours told us their daughter used to call taking a bath a soaker. Eventually, they noticed her hair was looking greasy and like she’d forgotten to bathe behind her ears. When our friends asked her about it, they learned she was quite literally soaking in the water, not actually bathing. So, now taking a soaker is what we affectionately refer to as sitting in a warm bath for no other reason than to relax and calm my soul.
I take the opportunity to pour in epsom salts and sometimes a little lavender essential oil when I remember. I turn on the Acoustic Chill playlist on Amazon music and sink into the warm water. All of those elements work together to relax my mind, body and soul.
How to Deal With Feelings Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are great for mental health and emotional support.
I like to apply Frankincense over my heart and on the back of my neck when I’m getting dressed in the morning. I also rub it together in my hands and then cup my hands and breathe in the grounding scent.
While I’m at it, I apply Stress Away to my jaw, along the back of my neck and sometimes on my wrists. It has a very soothing scent that somehow keeps me from clenching my teeth.
Sometimes at night, I either apply Vetiver and Lavender to my wrists and the bottoms of my feet, or diffuse it. They work together beautifully to lull me to sleep.
Journaling is a game changer. Any time I cannot unravel my thoughts or am feeling desperate to get to the bottom of what is troubling me, I open my journal and start writing, unedited.
Scriptures often come to mind as I write. When they do, I look them up and let the words settle within me.
This journaling process always, always leads to resolution, clarity and peace.
For me, reflection is a mindful account of my day, kind of like pressing rewind on a mental video and pausing on the moments I missed.
This process really helps when I feel like I’m not present enough for my people, whether that’s tending to my family or spending time writing you.
A fellow blogger always says, “Selfies never lie.” Meaning if you’re in doubt about the way you look in an outfit, take a selfie for an objective perspective. And so it is with taking a mental snapshot of my day.
Leaning on Others
Every now and then, I need more support than self regulating provides. There have been many times over the past few months I wish I could see my counselor so he could tell me how to deal with my feelings. But, I haven’t found one since mine passed away last Fall.
So, I turn to my husband, who happens to be a counselor.
When I feel like a loser for not being able to help anyone but myself, he helps me see all the ways I’m serving others. He continually reminds me that I’m doing the necessary work of taking care of myself and gently guides me to see how unrealistic my expectations are.
Recently, I was reminded of just how good it is to talk with a friend. It was completely spur of the moment. I’d clicked on her Instagram stories to listen as she shared what’s been on her heart lately.
I sent her messages of encouragement a few times during her story. After messaging back and forth for a while, I finally shared what was troubling my heart. I just assumed she’d pray in private in her own time.
A short while later, there was a little red number showing me I had a message. When I pressed play on the recording there was my friend’s voice praying over my request. I could feel a heavy weight being lifted off my shoulders.
Being able to listen to each other and share one another’s burdens that day gave me such a sense of peace. There’s just something about feeling cared for and knowing you’re not alone that is a huge relief.
You’re Not Alone
Learning how to self regulate your emotions is probably not the most inviting idea, but I’ve gone through it many times over…in my marriage, for my health, as a mother, a teacher, a daughter…and I can tell you with absolute certainty, you’ll be okay. And you are not alone.
I’m not sure if resilience is ever achieved alone. Experience allows us to learn by example. But if we have someone who loves us-I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side-it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.Maya Angelou
For more encouragement on how to deal with feelings, you may benefit from:
I’m on your side,