When facing mental health struggles, it can often feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. At times, you’re enjoying the ride, excited about life. Other times, the anxiety of anticipation has you caught up. And further still, there are times that you feel like you’re free falling and can’t stop.
I’ve been on this ride many, many times. It’s exhausting, to be honest. It feels like you have no control over the highs and lows of your emotions. The thing is, I don’t want to not feel any emotions. I don’t want to be numb. I just want to be able to slow things down and feel more in control of what’s happening within my mind.
And so, I have come up with 3 tips for slowing down the emotional roller coaster, to give yourself the chance to take back the controls. There are no guarantees, but it may help you to feel better and calmer.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. All suggestions in this post are based on my personal experiences and should not be taken as professional medical recommendations.
- Recognize the signs
The first step to slowing down the ride is to start recognizing the signs of when highs and lows are happening. For me, I can literally feel a wind up happening in my chest. My breath gets a little shorter and I start to feel jittery. It took a long time for me to recognize these seemingly simple signs but being able to catch this change in emotion can be helpful in starting to take the power back.
- Focus on one thought at a time
It can be so easy to get overwhelmed with so many feelings bouncing about in your head. For me, the sheer number of thoughts in my head can cause me to start to panic a bit. It helps me to try to take a breath and sort through my thoughts one at a time and try to find the one or few that are causing my anxiety. Then I can tackle the real issue without other thoughts distracting me.
- Break it down
Once I’ve identified what’s causing your emotions to roll all over the place, I try to break it down into smaller pieces. Is it something that happened at work today? I try to figure out why it’s still bothering me. Am I feeling sick? Why is that making me anxious? Asking myself simple questions to try to sort through my emotions can help me break down the anxiety until I realize there’s really nothing to be upset about or that it’s something that’s outside of my control so I can try to accept what’s going on without letting it have control over me.
By going through these three simple exercises, I have usually calmed myself down, identified what’s upsetting my emotions and what, if anything, I can do about it.
Emotions are a part of life and something we all need to learn to live with. However, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues can cause us to feel like we’ve lost control and are riding a roller coaster over which we have no control. Taking a few minutes to face those emotions up front can help us take the control back and slow down that roller coaster.
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