In today’s blog I share with you another way to regulate your feelings if you are triggered and are looking for ways to move past (or through) them.
Regulating your feelings can sometimes feel like a tough thing to do, especially when you are busy. Here are some simple and gentle ways that can quickly release strong feelings so you can back to what you really want to concentrate your energy on.
We don't have time for feelings!
We often want to get rid of feelings quickly as they can get super uncomfortable and we want to get back on with our day, most of us have work to do and don’t have time for feelings!
So suppression is sometimes our go to. And you will probably have already noticed whether this is working out for you or not. Repressing your feelings is a little like trying to hold a beach ball under water. It can take a lot of energy and eventually, it will come bursting up out of the water and hit you in the face!
Consequences of suppression
You are going to have to feel your feelings at some point, otherwise they will let themselves known somehow. Like keeping that beach ball under water, the pressure will build up if you keep your feelings under the surface. You may end up being grumpy and irritable or angry for no apparent reason, or you may get tense muscles, backache, headaches, that kind of thing.
Want to function again?
As a highly sensitive person I often experience intense feelings. Some of them are wonderful and beneficial. Others are bit too intense and leave me unable to function, like upset or overwhelm. These ones need a little bit more attention.
For intense or overwhelming feelings, I recommend the following steps:
1. Stop all productivity
Stop what you are doing and take a moment. If you are working, using your intellect or interacting with others in a work situation, then take a break from that until you have done the next steps. This may feel counter-intuitive, but try it!
2. Give the feeling as much room as it needs
Again, this may feel counter-intuitive as our reflex-reaction is to ignore, push-through or push away the feelings. Giving the feeling some room is an effective way of shifting it.
For example: you can lie down briefly, put your hands on your heart or belly and speak softly to yourself or to the feeling: “I see you, I hear you, I am here for you.” Giving the feeling that amount of room helps to shift it quickly. Alternatively you can spend some time naming the sensations in your body, which brings you gently into the narrator role which can also help shift those feelings.
3. Move your body
As so often, I advise having a shake, a dance, do some yoga or go out for a walk. Keeping moving is what will shift the triggered hormones out of your body and leave room for more peace to get on with what you really want to do.
4. Start small or create something small
Allow yourself to take the smallest step possible, don’t force yourself into getting things done or finished and certainly do not take on anything daunting straight away, you can work your way up to that!
Don't get stuck
If we are in a triggered state and having some strong feelings, our bodies may want to shut us down and do nothing and we can also get stuck in the numbed state and start doing things which are not good for us in the long run. Keep moving, find something to do to move forward to avoid getting stuck.
Try saying to yourself “I will just open one email, that is all,” or “I will just read two pages,” or if you want “I will just tidy away one document.” Give yourself permission to stop there.
If you give yourself that space, you will probably find that you are capable of much more. The trick is not to intend to do much more than that and allow yourself space and relaxation. See how you feel after you have started small.
It can be helpful to create something small. Write a little text (for yourself or someone else) for example, create a sandwich or a little salad, draw or doodle a little picture, do a bit knitting or crocheting, do whatever feels right for you.
After taking those steps, see how you feel and if necessary, repeat. By allowing yourself that small step or a small creation, you start to bring other parts of your brain online which will help you move forward and past these intense emotions.
No emotion can last forever, they will come and go. Feelings like anxiety or worry cannot exist at the same time as creativity, so purposefully or mindfully returning your attention to creating something will help move your brain's attention away from those strong feelings.
Moving away from whatever upset you and continuing to be in motion will help regulate those parts of the brain which are causing stress hormones.
What we practise get easier
You may need some practise on this, as brains are tricky little things!
When they are triggering intense emotions they probably won’t be able to access this information and once found, will more than likely dismiss it as not helpful or not possible or not the solution to your problem.
You can practise NOT listening to that and trying this out!