The Emotive Dimension of Self-Care involves how you express yourself and respond to the things that happen around you. When you experience intense emotions—especially when life doesn’t go the way you want it to—it’s easy to look for ways to numb or distract yourself. But learning how to manage your emotions is essential if you want to experience more ease and better health.
In this dimension, you’ll assess your triggers and explore healthier ways to manage your emotions. Is it time to make some changes in this area of your life? Here are some ways to improve your emotive dimension:
Know Your Triggers
When my marriage ended, a lot of things triggered me. Couples walking hand-in-hand on the beach, holidays and anniversaries, sappy relationship posts on social media–I was amazed by the number of times tears filled my eyes without warning.
Understanding how certain people or situations can trigger an emotional response within you is the first step to supporting the emotive dimension of your life. If certain people are triggers, you can limit when, where and how long you interact with them. If news or social media posts are triggers, you can modify who and what you follow.
You get to choose how you engage with the world, and by doing so you can better manage what triggers your emotions. After all, emotions are merely externalized thoughts, and each of us is responsible for what we think.
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Allow All Feelings and Emotions
Knowing your triggers is important, but knowing what to do with the emotions that get stirred up is what makes the biggest difference.
Because of the many years I’d spent honing my self-care practices, I had a pretty good idea what to do with the extreme feelings and emotions when they arrived. I allowed them all in–the sadness, anger, disappointment, joy, fear, excitement, disgust, anxiety, regret, awe, empathy, gratitude, love, optimism, pessimism, exhaustion–and the list goes on. Basically, I invited them over for a cup of tea while I sorted them out and determined what to do next. And then next. And then next.
While there are some critical differences between feelings and emotions, I can tell you that I couldn’t have cared less about any of those distinctions when I was smack in the middle of experiencing them. Grieving requires a lot of energy. For me, it was easier to lump them together. Feelings and emotions are nothing more than guides that offer clues about what’s really happening behind them.
They give us the opportunity to ask ourselves questions like these: Why did this upset me? What is this situation reflecting back to me? What can I learn from this? What would be a better response the next time I face a similar situation?
We can learn a lot from the emotions that are triggered within us. Get curious. Ask yourself what the feelings and emotions are trying to teach you.
Find Healthy Outlets for Your Emotions
But emotions can take a physical toll on our health if we aren’t careful. Allowing them to build up, ignoring them, or attempting to diffuse them in unhealthy ways can lead to even more problems. For example, suppressing your feelings can lead to unpredictable eruptions. Seemingly insignificant things can blow up and damage relationships unnecessarily. Likewise, unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, can also bring more problems–both physically and emotionally.
When you find yourself facing an intense emotional response, try a healthy outlet first:
- Take a walk
- Call a friend, mentor or sponsor
- Meditate or Pray
- Do yoga
- Go to a rage room
- Practice deep breathing
- Take a bath or shower
- Get a massage
- Clear your schedule
- Try Primal Therapy
- Journal out the negativity
- Have a good cry
- Make some art
- Schedule a session with a therapist
There are many positive outlets for feelings and emotions that you can experiment with to find what’s most effective for you.
Create a Survival Self-Care Plan
When life unravels, having a plan to fall back on is critical. Have you ever tried to make rational decisions when you’re in the middle of an emotional meltdown? Yeah, I don’t recommend it. Having a survival self-care plan to lean on will better prepare you to take care of your needs when life gets blurry and prickly.
Put simply, a self-care survival plan makes you more resilient.
To create a self-care survival plan, make a list of 5 to 10 self-care strategies that you can enlist when life gets heavy. You may or may not need all of them, but having a list to choose from makes it much easier to take action.
Here’s what I have on mine: quiet, cry, journal, hot tea, warm shower, walk in nature, massage, nap, fuzzy robe, journal, cancel non-urgent/non-critical appointments and commitments.
Summin’ It Up
In summary, to strengthen the emotive dimension of your life, get to know your triggers, allow all emotions and get curious about what’s behind them. Then, find healthy outlets for your intense emotions and create a self-care survival plan that you can turn to when those heavy life moments slap you in the face.
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