Managing Emotions during Turmoil

Are you tired of dealing with the pandemic yet? Join the club! Yet, here you are, so how are you supporting yourself?

Being aware of your internal reactions to what is happening is essential to staying current with your mind/body system during this time. Perhaps one day you are acutely aware of what is happening, another day you feel distantly removed from the moment-by-moment impact the virus is having on our planet. Perhaps you are staying blissfully positive about the healing that will take place from this global “pause” that is happening. Perhaps you want to stay positive but are also feeling worry or even fear about potential outcomes.

All of these are valid responses—and any other reactions on that continuum. To deny either is to miss an opportunity to be present with and support yourself during this unique experience. Observing your ups and downs can be simple (even if not always easy!) if you keep in mind this cycle:

Body sensation, emotion, emotional thoughts, rational thoughts, new perception.

When you’re paying attention, you can often notice your emotions as body sensations. Sometimes the emotional thought comes first, then a body reaction happens. Either way, when emotions come up in the body, the body needs to be calmed before you can reach a new, calming way to hold your experience.

To calm the body, first have compassion for whatever thought or emotion is coming up for you. Remind yourself that this will pass. Ground yourself by going for a walk, focusing on your breath or a bit of nature outside of your window. Ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling?” This question starts the movement from body to mind process.

The next step is validation of the emotional thoughts coming up. I call this the emotion’s “story”. Once you name the emotion, ask, “What is this emotion’s story?” What is it saying? COMPASSION is again necessary! Try not to judge the feeling/emotion, no matter how irrational it seems. Journal, talk to someone, or say it out loud to yourself. By listening to your inner reaction, you are being a good friend to yourself!

The next step is asking for a new perspective, moving up to the rational thinking mind. Ask yourself, “What is a new perception I can take that will be calming to me?” Journal your options, talk through them. What is in your control to do, say, change? Anything? Maybe awareness and validation are enough—and often, it is.

When you go through a difficult experience, having validation is important but sometimes hard to find. Self-validation far outlasts any validation you could receive from others.

This is the simple three-step process:

  1. What am I feeling?
  2. What is the story this emotion is telling me?
  3. What is the new perception or action I can take that will be calming to me?

Daily meditation is calisthenics for being able to manage your emotions. During meditation, you are practicing sitting with yourself, being aware of body (comfort, discomfort) as well as thoughts and emotions. You are practicing tolerating all of your mind and body stimulus – just BEING with whatever shows up, without judgment. The result is that you are able to be more aware, mindful, calm(er), of your whole self when something triggers you during the day.

Check in with yourself daily. Keep up with your internal process during this unusual experience we are all going through. Reach out for support or a listening ear. Find things to be grateful for and to laugh about. Most of all, be a good friend to yourself.

Visit me at Center for Dynamic Healing!

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