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Coping with Emotions: How I let it out

By Kristin Lyle

As I sat, staring into the computer screen on Monday evening, peering back at me are a group of remarkable women, we are all attending a self-care parent support group. This week's group is contrastingly different than any other group in the past. A sense of discomfort overtakes me, I clutch my fists, purse my lips, sit with my breath held, and listen. The discussion is about the Ukraine, Russian conflict and I find myself, like most people around the world, a slew of emotions when discussing this topic.

Negative news, especially when I cannot make a direct impact, causes me to fear and lose sleep. However, it is important for me to know what is going on, also, I need to protect my heart and mental health by limiting what I see and hear. In some ways, it makes me feel like I am choosing ignorance when I limit my media intake. I feel sorry for not paying more attention. The reason for this is, I simply do not have the ability to express my emotions in a way that I can get them out and move on with my daily life. What do I need to do to increase my emotional capacity to a level where I can let go of the negative and maintain a healthy mental state? At the end of the group that Monday evening, I was able to do just that.

It is a natural desire to avoid unpleasant emotions. Our inability to cope with those emotions is the result of not having been taught how to do so. Some of us were told by adults in our lives to, “stop crying” or to” suck it up and move on.” I am sure you would agree, keeping things inside is not good for mental and physical health. Start now, give yourself permission to express those suppressed emotions. It only takes a few simple steps to feel energized, calm, and focused. So today, I challenge you to not suck it up, instead to freely let it all out in five easy steps.

  1. Be aware. Identify your current feelings. Try expressing your emotions in words or colors using a piece of art or a journal if you're having trouble at first. It might even help to find music that suits your mood.

  2. Use “I” statements. Try to express your feelings with phrases such as, "I am confused. I feel anxious. I am scared."

  3. Look for the positive. It might seem hard to find positivity from bad news but do your best to see the silver lining. Make a goal to get more comfortable noticing the positive in all of your emotions. Do this purposefully with each suppressed emotion, start out small and don’t tackle all of them at once.

  4. Judge not! Don't judge yourself or tell yourself that you shouldn't feel a certain way no matter what you're feeling. Instead, try finding a reason for the feeling: "I feel nervous about the war because I can’t do anything to stop it.”

  5. Practice and repeat. Talk about your emotions with those closest to you and express what you feel. You will find others that share the same emotions. Ask how they cope.

Being in that self-care group, with all those amazing women, prompted this journey. Self-care is about coping with emotions, letting them out, then sharing that process with others.

Learn more about our groups here!

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