Coping with Emotions
The winter solstice, longest night of the year, has passed and every day we get a little more light in our day. This is an incredible metaphor for finding hope in our lives. We can take this and learn about acknowledging emotions and experiences when they happen in a way that lowers the intensity and allows us to be open to the moment while also shifting into the next in a healthy way.
So, how do you do this?
1 – Focus on the emotion.
Focus on an emotion you have felt recently that challenged you. It might have been sadness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, etc.
2 – Where does it live in your body?
Close your eyes if it helps and take a moment to figure out where this emotion currently lives in your body. Neck, shoulders, stomach, heart are all common, but it could be anywhere. Don’t try to get this right, just check in and see what you feel. It’s okay if it changes.
3 – Be Curious!
Now focus in on the emotion in the area of your body and try to see what it looks like. Is it soft and spacious, tense, spiky? Does it have a color associated with it? Is it small, big, moving, or still? Just be curious and try to get to know what this emotion looks like in this moment.
4 – Give it space to exist.
Once you have an idea of what it looks like, continue focusing on it and with each inhale breathe into that part of your body (even if it’s just the intention and you can’t actually breathe into that space.). Let the area around the emotion expand a little when you breathe in and slowly go back to normal when you exhale. No need to change the emotion, but if it wants to expand, or shift, that’s okay. Do this for several breaths and take your time.
5 – Promise to visit again soon
After you do this for a few mintues, take one more deep breath and make a proise to yourself that you won’t ignore the emotion. Commit to giving it space and time to exist as it is again soon.
These steps can help lower the intensity of an emotion because you are acknowledging it instead of ignoring, trying to change, or being scared of it. By giving it time and attention you will more easily be able to take a breath or break from it. By committing to visit again soon, you are keeping it from building in intensity as it will when it is feeling ignored or unheard.
Now Take a Break!
Whatever you need in this moment. Maybe some quiet time with a cup of tea or possibly a walk outside. Do something that feels relaxing, grounding, or good to you. Take a break from the emotion, as much as you can right now, and be kind to yourself.
If you feel like it only intensified or was overwhelming, that’s okay and is usually a sign that this has been building for a while or that there is a lot more behind this than just this one instance. I am a huge proponent of therapy and your mental health, so if you want support go get it! Asking for support from a professional who can be there just for you is the best thing we can do for ourselves in times that are challenging. The insight, relief, and knowing someone knows what you are going through can make all the difference in the world.
Try this exercise out and I would love to hear how it goes!
Wishing you all a healthy new year!
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Emery started Water & Stone in 2015 to bring a more contemplative approach to health and wellness in NYC. She is inspired to combine her love of meditation, creative arts, and psychology to support others in bravely healing or daring to reach for dreams with the goal of living a fully engaged and fulfilling life. Since starting her company, she has gathered a diverse group of women with similar dreams to support people locally, nationally and internationally.