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Feel your feelings with emotion regulation techniques

For many of us, avoiding our emotions comes easier than fully embracing them. And when we do express our emotions, we may do so in ways that aren’t always helpful. The underlying issue is that we don’t really know how to feel our feelings.

This key skill is one that doesn’t often come naturally. The good news is that it can be learned, and doing so helps us know ourselves better and make wiser choices. This Pacific Prime Thailand article explores how you can feel your feelings with emotion regulation techniques.

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Why emotional self-regulation matters

How often do you numb out instead of feeling your feelings? Think about the last time sadness, guilt, or another strong emotion took over and you turned on the TV, poured a glass of wine, or went to bed. Avoidance isn’t an ideal coping mechanism, but it’s probably the most popular.

What people fail to realize at the time, however, is that those feelings are simply on standby. And because they’re being ignored, they’re getting more agitated as they wait to be released. That’s why the feelings that we work so hard to shut out only seem to return with a vengeance once they make their way back in.

So what can we do instead? Feeling our feelings is a good place to start, though it isn’t as easy as it sounds. While it’s a catchy phrase, “feel the feels” involves multiple steps from acknowledging to dealing with your feelings (aka emotions) in a healthy way, which is typically referred to as emotional regulation.

There are two distinct parts when it comes to feeling a feeling. First, there’s the emotion that comes up. The second is your decision. Are you going to deal with this feeling right now or are you going to ignore it?

Emotional regulation tips you can apply today

Working on giving difficult emotions the time and space they need is more important than ever. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has people feeling all kinds of emotions. Those who have a hard time sitting with discomfort and managing their emotions instead of letting their emotions manage them are really suffering right now. Fortunately, these tips can help you deal with and release emotions as they arise.

Recognize your numbing behaviors

An important first step is to know what behaviors you usually turn to when you want to numb your feelings. This is essentially anything you do so you don’t have to face your feeling. It could involve some type of distraction, such as video games or other immersive entertainment, along with alcohol, drugs, and food. However, always being busy or constantly involving yourself in other people’s problems are also examples of behaviors used to avoid emotions.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy some of these habits in moderation. It’s just imperative to be aware of what your go-to numbing behaviors are so you can catch yourself.

Identify your feelings

Many of us don’t investigate our feelings when they come up. We often make a quick assumption about what’s happening or ignore it. But we can benefit from naming the emotion we’re experiencing and taking a closer outlook at why it came up.

Begin by noticing what’s happening in your body. What does the emotion feel like and where can you feel it in your physical body? Is it in your stomach or your heart? Does your throat feel constricted?

From there, consider what triggered the feeling and try to describe it. Sometimes it may be something as simple as feeling anxious after watching the news, but there can also be times when it’s harder to identify what’s really going on. The key is to explore your feelings with curiosity rather than judgment.

Don’t judge your feelings

We are so quick to think about what we feel about the feeling. For instance, you feel angry but instead of exploring that emotion, you quickly shame yourself for “feeling angry for no reason”. Or you feel sad you can’t spend time with your family, then are riddled with guilt because you think that many people are going through much worse. And on and on it goes.

While it isn’t necessarily easy, exercising self-compassion and being present with the feeling without needing to explain it, adding another emotion to it, or making it mean something about you is essential. Feelings are not facts. In reality, it’s often the opposite. By not judging a feeling, you allow yourself to truly feel it, which many of us never give ourselves permission to do.

Find out what the feeling is trying to tell you

Emotions are useful and can help us see what we need in the present moment and encourage us to act. Note that there’s a difference between acting on what you observe and acting on the feeling itself. Since our feelings are emotional, we need to investigate to learn how to cope with them, rather than act on them immediately.

Instead, asking what an emotion is trying to show you can give you the guidance you need to take thoughtful action. You might realize that social media isn’t helping your mental state right now and you need to take a break. Or you might notice that you’ve been really unhappy lately and could benefit from seeking mental health support in Thailand. Likewise, perhaps your feeling is telling you you’re hangry and need to eat something.

Express the emotion in a safe and mindful way

If you’re wondering how to release trapped emotions, there are many ways you can go about it. The ideal way to react to an emotion after you’ve identified and explored it (and practiced self-compassion) is different for everyone. Oftentimes, it’s beneficial to express the emotion in some way such as by:

  • Talking to a friend
  • Writing in your journal
  • Dancing it out
  • Crying to sad music

Or anything that helps you feel like you’re allowing the emotion to come up rather than suppressing it. Many people do their best to avoid feeling anything at all, without realizing that they’ll find relief when they no longer have to suppress it. Another reason why this practice is vital is that it lets you choose how to express your emotions in a safe and mindful way instead of taking it out on others or falling into patterns of self-destructive behavior. By frequently managing your emotions, they won’t be pushed down until they erupt.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that emotions may come up when we can’t give them the attention they need. When that happens, your best bet is to name and accept the feeling (rather than suppress or ignore it) and then tell yourself that you recognize the feeling and you’ll tend to it later. Just remember to actually deal with it when you can.

Take charge of your health with Pacific Prime Thailand

The aforementioned tips can help make your daily life a bit easier and develop emotional regulation skills, which are crucial to mental health. Remember that your mental and physical health plays a huge role in your quality of life.

Prioritize your health and wellbeing by securing health insurance with Pacific Prime Thailand. As a leading insurance broker with over 20 years of experience, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you find the ideal health insurance plan for your needs and budget. Contact us today for a free quote and impartial insurance advice.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Thailand
​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.