noun. a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
Emotions are biological states associated with the nervous system brought on by neurophysiological changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am on a continuous emotional roller coaster that keeps racing through the docking station. The days soar quickly into being high, and dip quickly into being low. The pace of time is either too fast or too slow. I am craving to place my feet on steady ground, to recalibrate and to decompress.
I’ve never liked rollercoasters, they don’t do anything for me, give me a Big Wheel any day! I like to face forwards, know where I am going, see what is coming. I like a steady pace, a sense of perspective and to feel safe and secure.
At the moment, each day is the same, yet our emotions are constantly changing, ebbing and flowing within us. As we process our own emotions, we support others in processing theirs too, we sponge up how they are feeling.
I am hearing lots of phrases like: emotions are high… emotions are raw… emotions are intense…
Emotions are surfacing. Emotions are overwhelming some people.
I know a lot of people who are feeling very anxious right now, this situation we find ourselves in is an emotional trigger. I have friends seeking medical intervention, medication and therapy to regain control over their emotions. I have encouraged several friends to try practising some mindfulness as a strategy for managing the strong emotions that are very present and powerful.
We are trapped in our houses, but we do not need to be trapped in our emotions. Emotions are a currency. Emotions are a language and a mode of communicating.
Acknowledging the emotions we are feeling is the first step to processing them. There is no point pretending they are not there, or in denying them. We are our own emotional gatekeepers.
Identifying and labelling the emotions we are feeling helps us to then articulate them. I have worked with lots of children who feel deeply but who do not have the vocabulary to express the emotions they are experiencing – words like happy, angry, sad each encompass a continuum – the more words we have, the more accurately we can describe our emotional state.
Accepting the emotions we are feeling is an act of self-compassion. I have felt lonely this weekend. There it is, I have said it out loud. Loneliness is not an emotion I generally feel. I have a busy professional and social life, I have a lot of love in my life, I spend time with a lot of people, but the solitude of a 4 day weekend got to me. I have social interaction but I have been craving physical contact. On Sunday, I just needed a hug.
Realising this emotion is temporary, that it will pass, is how I have worked through it. I know this is not a permanent emotional state I will be stuck in.
Investigating the emotion, has led me to reflecting on how I fill my life. I enjoy solitude when I choose to spend time with myself. The long weekend has felt like a punishment for something I have not done. I did not choose to spend 4 days at home, by myself. Nothing especially triggered my emotional reaction on this occasion, perhaps it was just the knowledge that a lot of people were having a blissful four days enjoying quality family time.
Letting go of that emotion, releasing that feeling, sitting with it reduces the sense of overwhelm. We are experiencing different things that are out of our control, so we will thus experience different feelings that at times will feel out of control. I have talked to friends about their frustration in their ‘normal’ coping mechanisms failing them. We are living our ‘normal’ lives, so changes to our strategies are needed to respond to changes in our routines.
On social media over the weekend, I could sense that lots of people were struggling. So I started a positivity wave, check out the thread for #HopeToCope. Lots of people got involved in sharing some to uplift others.
So if your emotions are feeling intense and you feel like you need to regain some control try emotionally self-regulating by using the following steps:
Acknowledge… Identify… Accept… Realise… Investigate… Release…
I visualise blowing up different colour balloons to represent each emotion, writing the emotion on the balloon and releasing them into the sky.
I give myself permission to feel and express the emotions. Watching the inclusive choir sing and sign This Is Us on Britain’s Got Talent, allowed me to have a cathartic cry.
Being emotionally aware will enable us to emotionally process and emotionally regulate. Stopping ourselves from emotionally editing how we are feeling, will enable us to explore our emotions rather than try to block them. Developing our emotional intelligence will enable us to read others, as our emotional scanning abilities need refining to read online body language, virtual social cues and socially distant changes in behaviour.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and others about our emotional state so that we can help each other by connecting to our emotions.