Emotions are a lot like being in water. When your emotions are overwhelming sometimes you feel like you are so helpless to do anything. You drown in the despair, the anger, the sadness, it pulls you under and you lose sight of the sun.
You don’t have to drown. Sometimes it’s enough to just be still, to float on the waves, to calm yourself so you aren’t pulled under. Other times you have to gather yourself and start swimming to shore.
Emotional Self Care is knowing when to float and when to swim. When you get to know yourself well enough a lot of the time you’re able to deal with your emotions a lot better. The number #1 rule to emotional Self Care, the one that you have to pinky-promise not to forget, is this:
Do not ignore your emotions.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop what you are doing. This doesn’t mean you have to break down. It means that you take a moment to acknowledge that yes, you are hurt/sad/lonely/depressed. Then you go from there.
When you practice Emotional Self Care, you learn what you need when you need it.
Like a mother recognizing her baby’s cry, you’ll recognize your own triggers. You’ll realize what you need to do to cope to allow yourself to feel better when you start feeling certain things. I want you to feel better when you start feeling things, I don’t want you to stop feeling altogether. We need to be sad/depressed/angry. Having those emotions means that our minds and bodies are working. It means we’re human.
What you need to stop is escalation.
How many times have you been in a slightly bad mood and completely ignored it? You feel it progressing, getting worse, getting angrier, and before you know it, you just explode and your whole day is ruined. Or perhaps you wake up feeling sad and you push yourself too much that day and by the end you’re berating yourself, feeling worthless, or questioning why you even exist.
If you would’ve taken the time to journal or talk to a friend, you could cut the escalation off before it starts. If you had decided that a hot bath, and a nap, was what you needed, you could’ve felt better. If you’d worked up to courage to ask someone for a hug, just so you didn’t feel so alone, you might have realized you aren’t.
What you do for your emotional self care is different for everyone. Going for a jog might help me work through my anger but it might do nothing for you. That’s cool. What you need to do is make a list of activities you can do when you feel angry, jealous, or when you feel depression coming on. Separate the activities by how much time they require. Maybe you wake up on a work-day and don’t have time to take a long walk, call a friend, or write three pages in your journal. Sometimes taking a deep breath, holding a crystal, or having a quick, hot, shower, is all you can do to stay afloat.
Come up with a plan for what works for you. Always, always, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Being angry or resentful towards yourself just makes things worse. Feelings are not the enemies.
Journaling Prompts: Do you have a plan when you start feeling strong emotions? What do (or can) you do to make yourself feel better?