This episodes talks about avoiding feelings, what that does to your health, and tips to manage emotions.
Today we are going to be talking about emotions – more specifically the stress of not dealing with our emotions and how that may hinder our health progress.
Have you ever had a time when you you felt like you were so full of a variety of emotions that it paralyzed you from taking any real action outside the normal hustle of the day? Where you are stuck with all these feelings and you don’t quite know what to do with them, so you do nothing? Even though you know if you take some step forward and deal with the emotions, you may feel better? You avoid doing all the things that you know will make you feel better and help you unload the emotions you need to unpack?
I had one of those weeks. Between job stress, an antsy sick child, and the upcoming anniversary of my dad’s death, I started to feel this quiet seething of anxiety in my chest and stomach, my brain started to fill up with doubt and worry. I was easier to be discouraged and annoyed, and I am had limited capacity for dealing with any bullshit. I was having feelings of grief, worry, pain and anxiety. The more feelings I felt, the harder it was for me to process them and the more avoiding I was doing. I found myself in this cycle of emotions that led me to stop doing the very things that I knew would help manage all the emotions I was feeling. I stopped exercising and writing my daily gratitude’s and started watching more TV and increasing the time spent on social media to avoid feeling any of the feelings I knew were brewing within me. I felt myself putting off feeling any of the emotions until I could get to a physical and emotional space where I could sit down and acknowledge my feelings. Despite my newfound desire for self-care, I found myself easily slipping back into old behaviors that I am working on changing. Have you ever felt this way? When I finally discussed my struggle in therapy and acknowledged some of the emotions that were brewing, it occurred to me, that maybe that if this is something I struggle with, perhaps you struggle with it too.
Avoiding the feelings within can lead to both emotional and physical stress and suffering
Emotional stress can manifest in the form of anxiety, depression, anger, and shame while physical symptoms can look like: Gastrointestinal distress (constipation, diarrhea), headaches, insomnia, or fatigue.
In your everyday life, they may manifest as: overeating, over-restricting the food you eat to have some control, under-exercising due to body aches or fatigue, or you will not that you are simply not making yourself a priority? What are the emotions you are avoiding? It is anxiety about your job or sending the kids back to school? It is exhaustion from being home all day with your kids while managing the workload of life? Are you worried about your health or that of a loved one? These feelings may come in waves but acknowledging they exist will normalize the feelings and create overall balance I share these feelings with you to normalize them and give you permission to unload your own. If I was putting off taking care of myself during these feelings, are you doing the same? Are you tucking those emotions so deep down that it is hindering your health and wellness and leading to more suffering the long run?
Let’s talk about some tips that will help you get started towards managing your emotions:
- Engage in physical activity – I talked all about the many benefits of movement in last week’s episode
- Take a social media hiatus or set sometimes during the day when you be on it
- Find something to do alone – even for a few minutes, take a shower, sit in your car
- Write down 3 things that you are grateful for
- Spend time with a friend
- Take a walk
- Do some breathing exercises – Dr. Nancy talked us through the benefits – episode 4
- Download songs that help you feel the feelings and create a playlist you can refer to
- Read a book or listen to an audiobook or podcast that will inspire or motivate you
- Practice mediation or download a meditation app
- Self-compassion – talking and treating ourselves like we would our family and friends
- Seek guidance from a licensed or qualified therapist out there who can help you, I’m a big proponent of therapy as it has been super helpful in my own life.
I will again remind you that I don’t have this figured out, but I know I can do a better job than I am doing now. I will continue to share my feelings with you to create community where honesty and imperfection are normalized. The journey of self-care, wellness, and health may take you outside of your comfort zone. But that’s OK. Growth and change come from discomfort and challenges. Whole Health is not an impossibility – but only you can make it happen. Remember to start where you’re at. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day. Be kind to yourself friends.