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Using your words to understand your emotions

Life is busy, no doubt about that. Ever since the rules were lifted related to Covid we have gone from what feels like pretty quiet lives into going at a hundred miles per hour.

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Life is busy, no doubt about that. Ever since the rules were lifted related to Covid we have gone from what feels like pretty quiet lives into going at a hundred miles per hour.

That is why the greatest connection you can have at this time is to the connection to yourself.

Carve out some time in amongst the busy periods to check in with how you are feeling and use your words to articulate your emotions and feelings. Ever heard yourself when someone asks you how you are, that there are possibly only a few answers you give?

“I’m fine”

“I’m well, thank you!”

“I feel stressed!”

“Showing up to difficult feelings can help you anticipate pitfalls and prepare more effective ways of coping during critical moments.” (Susan David Ph.D, Harvard Medical School)

It is important to label emotions, being specific about what you are really feeling. Truthfully when we try and “grin and bear it” through difficult times, it can prevent us from being authentic, showing up for ourselves and learning from our feelings.

So perhaps the next time you use the phrase in a conversation with yourself or another close connection you say:

“I feel confused.”

“I feel worried”

“I feel angry”

“I feel sad”

A great tip from Harvard Medical School Psychologist Susan David is that words matter. Take a moment to consider what the emotion is called and sit with it to unravel it.

Let’s take sad. It could mean you are tearful, disillusioned, pessimistic mournful or regretful. This exercise is to connect with yourself and the deep-rooted emotions rather than putting a blanket statement of “I am sad therefore I am depressed”.

We have learnt that we should favour a positivity culture over emotional truth, but it is important to not mask behind positivity but rather acknowledge difficult emotions and meet our inner selves with compassion and honesty, so we are able to move forward healthier. It is to allow the emotion to be validated but then also to find ways to move to a better emotion.

In truth, more often the upside to sadness, guilt, fear or anger is that it can encourage us to persevere, support better memory, make us more attentive and form healthier arguments as we see things from all sides. All opportunities for growth.

So, what can you do to create a better connection to yourself and your emotions?

  • Set aside 10 mins a day to journal, to use your words and unravel the events of the day.

  • Instead of scrolling on your phone spend 5 mins breathing, the best technique for the relief of stress is 4-0-8-0 Breathing. This is breathing in for 4, then hold, then breathe out for 8 and hold before you do it again.

 If you are feeling anxious before doing your journaling, do the 3-3-3 technique which helps disrupt your mind for a moment.

  • Look around and name 3 things you hear

  • Name 3 things you see

  • Move 3 parts of your body

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