Advertising

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Express Your Feelings in a Healthy Way

Advertising
How to Express Your Feelings in a Healthy Way

Even though feelings—also known as emotions—are the splashes of colors that make our rather boring daily routine seem compelling, the truth is that most people are emotionally challenged. Some people do not know how to express their feelings. Expressing wrong emotions can leave us drained, confused, and alone.

It can be very easy to get caught up in your feelings, especially when you lack the proper way to express them. Most people cannot adequately describe a feeling or their emotions, let alone express it healthily. Moreover, so many contradictions are out there about how one should express their mental and emotional thoughts.

Some studies say be blunt—say it the way you feel and blah, blah, blah. Others say be constructive, thoughtful, mindful, and careful how you react. The truth is that we never take the time to analyze the type of emotions we are feeling before we express them. In other words, we do not associate the right energy to the emotions because we have generalized it.

For example, there is a deep meaning to emotional sadness. When you are sad, it is understandable that you are not happy or things are not working the way you expected. However, sadness has depth—like disappointment, gloomy, miserable, hopeless, frustrated, or depressed.

These are emotions linked to sadness, but we only express being sad for all of them. Yes, I agree that it can be a challenge expressing how you feel in the heat of the moment. But if you can express the right emotion, then you will be better for it.

This Year Has Been a Trying Year

It started with the pandemic, the protest, and many more worries that families suffered throughout the nation. Humans feel a mix of emotions, and quite frankly, 90 percent of people do not know how to express their feelings. The outspoken ones say it as it is, while the shy ones lockup their feelings, struggle, and cope with it in dangerous ways. These bottled up feelings make them stressed, depressed, and a ticking time bomb.

Despite the madness and repercussions associated with how we express our feelings, aptly expressing them is healing to an aggrieved soul.

Asides from bottling up, other unhealthy ways people try to expel their feelings are:

  • Ignoring, avoiding, or suppressing the emotion
  • Venting the feeling in a wrong manner like a father yelling or resulting in domestic abuse and violence
  • Using food, drugs, alcohol, and sex to douse the impact of the emotions
  • Resulting in crime or others as a way of venting the emotion
  • Being too chatty and losing self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Beating yourself up even when you are the victim
  • Using the situation around you to judge and suppress the emotions.

Expressing your feelings

Did you know that over 3000 words describe various emotions in the English vocabulary? How many do you recognize? And can you use them correctly?

Advertising

Emotions are part of life. Without them, life as we know it will be boring and incomplete. However, relying on the methods above is unhealthy and dangerous for anyone. You deserve to express your feelings for many reasons.

Ways to Build Your Emotional Intelligence to Better Express Your Feelings

To be able to better express your feelings, you first have to improve your emotional intelligence. Here are 10 ways you can build your emotional intelligence to enable you to express your feelings better.

1. Feel the Feelings

Growing up, people say “boys do not cry.” They had to be strong and resilient and had no right to show emotions. These are societal and family upbringings that are affecting a bunch of individuals today. Never, ever bottle up your feelings. Instead, acknowledge and accept them. Try to understand the triggers and come up with appropriate measures to express them healthily.

2. Accept the Changes

Our inability to healthily express feelings stems from not wanting to accept the changes around us. When people experience a difference in their surroundings, they do two things.

First, seme people immediately creates this barrier around themselves to shut off the happenings. This means they fail to understand or rather do not see why things should happen without their consent or according to their plan.

For example, a young girl has lived part of her life alone with her father. Suddenly, he starts to date and talks about marriage with a love interest. The girl feels intimidated, abandoned, and not loved. These are all feelings that could be discussed, but she lets them build-up, and it turns to resentment and running away from home or even doing drugs.

The other possible reaction is that she expresses her feeling to her dad, and he lovingly explains that nobody will ever take her place in his heart. She understands her role, builds a relationship with a new mom, and is comfortable in her space.

Emotionally intelligent people accept the changes around them. They understand that purpose and do not let their feelings define who they are or can be. Moreover, they seek value in how feelings play out than how it plays them.

3. Grow From Constructive Criticism

People who cannot accept constructive criticism cannot express their feelings healthily. When you feel you are right and everyone should play your script, then there is a problem. Receiving constructive criticism means being willing to hear feedback about a behavioral expression from those who see you do it.

Advertising

For example, your boss gets you angry at the office, which happens often. You have never owned up to discuss with them what the problem is. You go on a lunch break with your friend, vent out your frustration, anger, and conclude you are quitting the job.

Your friend disagrees and explains the reasons that might have warranted the boss’ reaction, but you will not hear it because they do not conform to your ideas. You are defending and insisting on your way that is not growing from constructive criticism. You have to learn to understand the other person’s point of view before you go haywire.

4. Talk to Yourself About It

When people have difficulty expressing their emotions, many times, the options are either to speak to a shrink or register at a center where they have others like they. This is a mistake. If you do not know what you are feeling, how then do you wish you describe it to another?

Furthermore, you are told how you feel instead of discovering it yourself. So, when you feel an emotion building up, find a quiet spot, and discuss them.

5. Write Them Down

Journaling is an excellent way to understand and eventually express your emotions. However, there is a catch here—you need to build a concrete emotional vocabulary so that you can with pinpoint accuracy describe that emotion.

To jot down your feelings, try to do so as precisely as possible. Remember the reason for the emotion, how you felt, and how you handle it afterward. Do not express negative emotions. Rather, view the thoughts from a positive angle and work your way up.

6. Be Mindful

Well, this works better with positive feelings as you can control the excitement and is conscious about the surrounding. For negative feelings and hurts, it is a different ball game. Mindfulness is the process of owning the emotions and knowing when they start to build up.

For example, what state of mind were you in when it happened? Were you stressed, happy, or something else? The ability to be mindful can help you channel thoughts and feeling healthily and properly.

7. Stop Seeking Validation for Your Emotions

We all do that at some point. However, if you are right in the way you choose to express your emotions, society will not judge you. If you are wrong, accept it and stop looking for supporters to join your bandwagon.

Advertising

Seeking validation is a sign that you do not know how to express your feelings. People who seek to validate their emotions could have troubled past or suffered trauma and feel the need for reassurance at every step of the way. It is your emotions, so feel free to experience them. Only then will you understand and express it healthily.

8. Set Healthy Boundaries

Knowing when to say “no” is crucial in expressing your emotions. Never feel obligated to do something for another. Know your limits, what you can take, and work from there. Boundaries keep you in check and enable you to genuinely understand the whys around you.

For example, if you are a very playful person that goes around hugging people and being all touchy and stuff, you cannot get angry when the feeling is reciprocated. If you need to draw a line from the inception, do it and stick to it.

9. Stop Overthinking

Isn’t it funny how we never overthink positive feelings but can write a 2 hours movie script about negative thoughts and feelings? You need to stop that now. Overthinking kills, exaggerates, and blows things out of proportion. Overthinking is the quickest way to get wrapped up in a mentally insecure place. Do not do it, and avoid it.

10. Do Not Validate or Give In

At some point in life, everyone has been in a weird situation—how we wriggled our way out says a lot. Did you give in or justify the mistake of others? If emotion is building up contrary to your values, morals, or beliefs, step away from the situation than become absorbed in it.

Ways to Express Your Feelings Healthily

Now that we have understood our feelings, it is time to express them appropriately. The above steps build your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, control, and healthily express emotion or feelings via the proper channel. It is also growing and improving in how you handle your feelings so that you are not hurt and do not hurt those that love you.

1. Journaling

We mentioned it as a way to build a strong emotionally intelligent mindset. This is a perfect way to express your feelings (any kind of emotion), too. Journaling works incredibly in helping you expel thoughts and feelings raging in your head and heart.

There is no proper way of doing it. Have a book or diary and imprint emotions you observed during the day in whatever manner you felt them. This method allows you to build emotional awareness and devise ways of controlling and overcoming feelings that drive you crazy.

Advertising

2. Anger

This is a common feeling that defiles a proper way of expression. However, people that experience this emotion want to hit, punch, or get physical. Anger is like an energy force that wants to come out.

If you are angry at the office, go to the restroom and splash cold water on your face to calm down. If you are at home, hit the gym and punch the feeling away. When you are calm and happy, discuss the trigger, and try to avoid such situations in the future.

3. Fear

This is overwhelming energy that seeks to break our resolves and drown us in confusion. The emotion associated with fear is that of failure, low self-esteem, and self-confidence. It causes you to overthink and ask too many questions.

If you are in this state of mind, share how you feel with one person you trust. If you live far away from home, call your parents, sibling, an aunt, just talk to someone that will not judge or criticize you.

4. Pain and sorrow

The healthiest way is to scream, cry, shout, yell, just vent, and let it go. Crying seems to work well with unpleasant emotions. Whether you choose to cry alone or in front of everyone, you will feel better when the tears stop flowing.

Our bodies are always giving us ways to deal with the emotion, listen to your body, and forget about what society says. Your happiness lies in how healthy you express your emotions.

Final Thoughts

Remember this: our feelings are the emotions that are part of us, and we cannot do without them. However, how we choose to express them will determine if we are tethered or free.

When we face, acknowledge, deal with, and healthily express how we feel, it is for a greater good. It is for you and nobody else. Learn to foster the habit of expressing your feelings healthily as you continue to grow today.

More on How to Express Your Feelings

Featured photo credit: Gabriel Benois via unsplash.com

Advertising

More by this author

Jacqueline T. Hill

Writing, Blogging, and Educating To Guide Others Into Happiness

20 Invaluable Things Money Can’t Buy 23 Self-Care Ideas For Women To Rewind 14 Reasons To Always Try New Things in Life How To Not Stress: 10 Stress Management Techniques How to Learn to Be Alone and Happy About It

Trending in Mental Wellness

1 Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why? 2 Does Depression Make You Tired And How? 3 Overwhelmed at Work? 17 Ways to Manage Work Anxiety 4 Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine? 5 How To Cope With Traumatic Events And Stress

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 15, 2021

Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

Advertising
Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

1. Stress Hormone Overload

Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

Advertising

You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

3. Negative Mindset

Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

Advertising

Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

4. Digestive Issues

It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

5. Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

Advertising

Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

6. Breathing Problems

Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

Advertising

There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

7. Sleep Issues

Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

Advertising

More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next