Part of the human condition involves dealing with emotionally challenging moments, but some of them are much more difficult to recover from than others.
For example, although everyone’s experience will vary, it can take years to fully recover from the death of a close loved one. We all have our own coping mechanisms for situations ranging from a death to a breakup. However, here are some tips that are universally helpful.
1. Keep a Journal of Your Feelings
Your feelings aren’t going to go away because you opt not to deal with them. Instead, they will pop up in unexpected ways and may take much longer to deal with if you don’t face them head on.
One of the best ways to do this is to write in a journal on a regular basis. Make sure that your journal is completely private so that you can freely write all of your thoughts and feelings, no matter how bad they might seem. Doing this will enable you to purge your feelings, which makes it easier to move past them.
2. Seek Out a Like-Minded Community
Talking to people who are like-minded can offer you a safe sounding board for your feelings and fears. If you are afraid to openly express your current feelings to someone you know, you can utilize an anonymous app or online services such as Paralign or Samaritans.
Both of these services are free, and they stress the importance of getting your feelings out via writing. Paralign will even connect you anonymously with other people who are dealing with similar issues so that you can receive the support you need from like-minded individuals. Samaritans offer anonymous email support for people who are dealing with suicidal feelings.
3. Create Space for Yourself
Sometimes, an emotionally challenging situation requires people to give a lot of themselves to others. During this time, they may be unable to deal with their feelings because they are too busy helping others.
If this has happened to you, it’s important to make some space for yourself so that you can begin the recovery process. Making space could mean anything from taking 15 minutes out of every day just for you all the way to going on a solo retreat in a cabin or hotel room for a couple of days.
4. Consider Counseling
A staggering 16 million American adults suffer from at least one major depressive episode per year. This is often caused by situational depression, which is something that you may be able to successfully deal with more quickly by enlisting the help of a trainer counselor.
A professional will listen to you without passing judgment or telling you what to do. Instead, they will provide a safe space for you to vent and show you how to deal more effectively with your emotions. Counseling doesn’t have to last forever in order to work. In fact, most people attend an average of eight or fewer sessions per year.
5. Meditate Daily
Often, the easiest way to gain some perspective on our issues is to take a break from them. The entire goal of meditation is to be mindful and avoid dwelling on your problems or emotions.
If you can work yourself up to truly meditating for 5 to 15 minutes per day, you will benefit by taking a break from whatever is challenging you emotionally.
6. Put Down the Snack Food
It is normal to be attracted to comfort food and snacks when you’re feeling upset or depressed. Studies have found that comfort food offers a strong positive association for most people, so it’s okay to indulge for a day or two.
After that, though, you’ll only do yourself more harm if you persist in eating junk food. Adding more vegetables and fruit into your diet will actually make your body feel better, which in turn can have a positive impact on your mental health.
7. Start Exercising
When your stress levels are through the roof, it can feel impossible to fit in some exercise. Unfortunately, this is exactly when you need it the most. If you can make time for even a 20 minute walk each day, you’ll lower your cortisol levels.
Most people also experience a boost in their ability to talk about their issues during physical activity. This should make it easier for you to get your feelings out, which is a critical step in your recovery. You may even want to consider taking a walk before therapy or journaling.
8. Be Honest with Those Who Have Hurt You
Is your current situation linked to emotional pain that was caused by someone else? It may be necessary to express this pain to them in order to truly move forward. The important thing to remember is that you always have the right to say how you feel, but you don’t have the right to expect a specific response.
In other words, after you’ve said your peace, the other person might not apologize or admit to any wrongdoing. Getting your feelings out will still help you as long as you don’t place expectations on the other person. Also, remember to stick with saying how you feel instead of making personal attacks.
9. Finds Things to Be Grateful For
Science has proven that expressing gratitude can improve your mental and physical health. Therefore, even if you currently feel like the world is a dark cesspool, it’s vital to look for anything that you can feel grateful about. Make a gratitude board or journal and challenge yourself to express gratitude for at least one thing per day.
This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It could be something as simple as “I’m grateful for pizza.” The point is to look at things in your life that are positive in order to help you move past the negative stuff.
Ultimately, only you can ensure that you do fully recover from an emotionally challenging situation. If you choose to continuously dwell on what happened instead of taking positive steps, you may continue to feel emotional pain for many years. Instead, start taking helpful action right now, including adding the 10 mood lifting superfoods to your diet.
Featured photo credit: Michelle Tribe via flic.kr