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Managing your emotions

Learning to control your emotions during times of emotional stress can be beneficial to your mental health.


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There are always points in life where emotions overcome rational thought. It is recognising and validating the types and impact of emotions that will help you while learning to control your emotions. Emotions and feelings are often controlled in daily life by people who want to maintain a calm focal point throughout the day.


Emotions certainly play a big part in life, and decisions are often based on feelings. However, the problem occurs when emotions are out of control, inconsistent, and increase stress. Learning to control your emotions can help maintain a focused outlook on life. This is done through emotional awareness and emotional coping skills.


Learning to control your emotions is really balancing the internal feelings with the external environment. It is about how you honestly feel and expressing that without blaming others. It is also about how others feel without placing internal blame on yourself. It is not manipulative; it is validating. It only means that you recognise what you are feeling and can express those feelings without physical or verbal violence or manipulation.


Take charge of your emotions 

Many people are either unaware of their emotions, or spend their lives stewing in their negative emotions, not knowing how to act on what their feelings are telling them. Here is how to manage your emotions and stop them from controlling your life:


  1. Be aware of your feelings, but don’t suppress them. Hiding your feelings is not the same as managing them. If you hold onto your emotions and let them build like lava in a volcano, you are going to explode in the worst possible way and end up hurting someone else or embarrassing yourself. Remember, it’s not wrong to have feelings; it’s just not healthy to stew in them or unleash them on innocent bystanders.
  2. Recognise your feelings. Are you feeling angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, or jealous? Ask yourself why. If you have an anger management issue, for instance, try keeping a journal to record how you feel at different times of the day. That will help you figure out what gets you upset and how to manage the situation. 
  3. Take action or talk to someone. If hearing your neighbour’s alarm clock going off an hour earlier than you need to be awake gets you all riled up, for instance, see if you can get your neighbour to soften his alarm clock or if you can get a pair of ear plugs that will cut out the sound of his alarm. If the situation is not as clear cut, try discussing your feelings with someone you trust, a professional or even with the person with whom you are having an issue.
  4. Deal with your past. If you can’t take action and can’t even talk about your feelings, ask yourself why not and check if you are making excuses to avoid more deep-seated issues related to your past. Perhaps speaking up as a child always got you yelled at and beaten up, which is why you are afraid to bring up how you really feel now. Realise that you are no longer in the same situation and that you need not respond in the same way anymore. 
  5. Do something physical. If you are in the midst of a fight, for instance, take a breather or relieve the tension by doing something physical like walking, running or gardening. As the pressure of whatever it is that is affecting them starts to build, some people turn to whining, nagging, alcohol abuse or other negative pursuit that temporarily relieves the pressure but wastes energy and leaves the problem unsolved. Engaging in regular physical exercise helps take the edge off but the problem still needs to be resolved at some point – sooner rather than later.
  6. Engage in deep breathing exercises. Any type of meditation entails being aware of your breath and doing deep breathing exercises. This is because breathing restores your metabolic equilibrium and brings balance. No matter how busy you might be, find the time to close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. Even better, meditate on a daily basis and ward off emotional extremes before they begin. Studies show that people who meditate are calm, slower to anger, and better able to resolve problems positively. If you prefer not to take up a class, there are plenty of CDs that can help you learn the practice.
  7. Learn to laugh at yourself.  Having a sense of humour about things is an asset.  Being able to laugh at yourself may improve your mood, as humour is one of the possible factor in developing personal resilience.


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