Aug 23rd, 2019
The inability to understand and manage your emotions is a major issue in today’s fast-paced, superficially connected world.
Hi, this Grant Herbert and I want to continue our conversation around stress this week by taking a look at one of the crucial areas you need to get on top of if you are to reduce and manage your stress, and that’s how you navigate your emotions.
Let be really clear. Humans are emotional beings and not robots.
You respond to things emotionally. You make decisions on emotion.
Marketers are taught to connect with you emotionally.
Navigating your relationships with others can often be very emotional and stressful.
Your emotions are present in every waking moment of your day, so while some people subscribe to the myth that talking about emotions is just warm and fuzzy, or labelling them ‘soft skills’, is ridiculous.
Some people even believe that they can check their emotions in at the door when they get to work and only work on logic. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. It is literally impossible to do that. You are an emotional being.
It would be like you trying to leave your arms at the door or your brain. Emotions are a necessary and powerful ingredient of our make up, and we need to know how to embrace them for the service they give us and manage our response to them.
When we are out of whack emotionally, our thoughts can lead us to react and behave erratically. This can cause you to feel more anxious, fearful, anguish and worried.
This adds to your stress levels and can become quite disruptive and debilitating in daily life. Emotional stress can be particularly painful, challenging to deal with, and can take more of a toll that many other forms of stress.
So, learning to be aware of your emotions, and have healthy strategies to manage your behaviour, is paramount in the quest to reduce and manage your stress.
Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of coping with emotional stress is the feeling of being unable to change the situation. If you can't change your stress levels by eliminating the stressful situation, you can certainly work on your emotional response to it.
This is a set of skills I learned, and now teach, in the arena of Social and Emotional Intelligence. They are definitely the game-changer.
Here are some exercises you can use to help you reduce your emotional stress:
• Practice Mindfulness. When you feel emotional stress, it's also often experienced as physical pain like a 'heavy' feeling in the chest, an unsettled feeling in the stomach or a dull headache. It's common to try to escape these feelings, but it can actually be helpful to go deeper into the experience and use mindfulness to really notice where these emotional responses are felt physically. Some people notice that the pain seems more intense before dissipating, but then they feel the emotional and physical pain is lessened. Give it a go and see what happens when you try it?
• Distract Yourself. We used to think that if we didn't express every emotion we felt they would show themselves in other ways. In some ways, this is true. There are benefits to examining your emotional states to learn from what your emotions are trying to tell you, and repressing your emotions in unhealthy ways can bring other problems. However, it's also been discovered that distracting yourself from emotional pain with emotionally healthy alternatives — such as a feel-good movie, fun activities with friends, or a satisfying mental challenge, can lessen emotional pain and help you feel better.
• Take Some Time Out. If you find that emotional stress and rumination creep into your awareness quite a bit, and distraction doesn't work, try scheduling some time — an hour a day, perhaps — where you allow yourself to think about your situation fully and brainstorm possible solutions, concoct hypothetical possibilities, replay upsetting exchanges, or whatever you feel the emotional urge to do.
• Practice Meditation. Meditation is very helpful for dealing with a variety of stressors, and emotional stress is definitely in the category of stressors that meditation helps with. It allows you to take a break from rumination by actively redirecting your thoughts, and provides practice in choosing thoughts, which can help eliminate some emotional stress in the long term.
• Talk to a Professional. If you find your level of emotional stress interfering with your daily activities or threatening your well-being in other ways, you may consider seeing a therapist for help working through emotional issues.
Whatever the cause of your emotional stress, you can work toward reducing and managing it and feeling better in the process, without losing the supportive 'messages' that your emotions are bringing you.
That’s it from me this week. Join me again next week when we keep the conversation going around the benefits of self-care.
I’m on a quest to help as many people as I can to reduce and manage their stress, so make sure you grab a copy of my eBook by clicking the button below.
See you next week!