Processing emotion

Manage Stress – Fine, But How?

We’ve all read the advice, get a good night’s sleep and manage your stress levels, but do you actually have some tools and techniques available to you that help you to do that?

Right now, in the face of a pandemic and lots of other social concerns it’s more important than ever.

In my work, I spend a lot of time guiding people in understanding the influence that their emotional health has on things like weight management and their ability to create a healthy relationship with their bodies. Our ability to experience and regulate our emotions in a way that feels safe and comfortable to us is fundamental to our sense of well-being and physical health and yet so few of us actually know where to start with it.

In short, releasing your emotions in a way that feels safe a comfortable to you is far better for you that holding on to it, supressing it or trying to distract yourself from it with other methods like food, alcohol or shopping.

Emotions like anger, fear, anxiety and all the other ‘tough stuff’ doesn’t just show up in our minds, it also shows up in our bodies. Things like butterflies in your stomach when you’re anxious and flushing in cheeks when you are nervous or embarrassed are all indications of how your emotions show up in your physical being. If you don’t have ways to process it, it can stick around causing long term issues like inflammation, raised blood pressure and aches and pains.

So how do we release and process emotion in a healthy way?

In really simple terms, I think about it in two ways:

Working it out through your mind and thoughtful practices, and working it out through your body and physical practices. Both are really effective ways of acknowledging and releasing emotions, you’ve just got to find the thing that feels good for you.

Examples of thoughtful practices:

Journaling : Using prompts or unstructured writing practices to help you to download your thoughts and feelings on to paper.

Talking: Acknowledging and expressing your thoughts and feelings to someone outside of your challenges.

Guided meditations: Some meditations are designed specially to guide you through difficult emotions.

Drawing and getting creative, or getting active on social issues, if that’s you thing!

Examples of ‘bodyful’ practices:

Bodyful practices are particularly good at helping us to get out of our minds and thoughts and into our bodies. If you are worrying or overthinking, switching to place your focus into your body can be a really effective technique to diffuse the tension.

Movement: Yoga, walking, running, dancing, whatever it is that you like to do. Exercise is not just about fitness, moving your body is an excellent tool for supporting strong mental health and emotion regulation.

Breathing: Using breathing exercises to work through tough emotions is a great technique.

Stretching: Simple, gentle stretching is enough to help you to focus outside of the mind.

As an addition, movement practices that encourage us to synchronise movement with breath, like Tai-chi, yoga and Qigong are really good for this.

Do you have methods for stress management and processing your emotions? I’d love to read about them in the comments…..

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