We are emotional beings; despite the degree to which you acknowledge your emotions, you still feel them, and they impact you.
Some of us are more skilled in being able to name them, feel them without fear of feeling, and even know what to do to help us through the emotion cycle.
But many more of us weren’t socialized, role modeled and/or reinforced to see, accept and allow our emotions, making it harder to manage them as they arise. And despite having the thought “I’m not an emotional person,” I hate to break it to you, but you are human, and having emotions is simply part of our makeup.
And here’s the challenge we have had in recent times: there has been an accumulation of collective emotional challenges, piled on top of one another, so before we’ve had a chance to process one emotional experience, another has arisen. And this is how we can so easily feel stuck and burned out.
It’s helpful to understand that emotions not only are natural, but are automatic physiological responses. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling what you feel. Here’s the problem though: when we try to ignore, deny, or dismiss them, they don’t actually go away; in fact, they get stuck.
Emotions are cycles that have a beginning, middle and end, and when we don’t work our way through the whole cycle, emotional exhaustion and burnout result. So, think of your emotions as being like a tunnel, and you literally have to get through to see the light at the end.
The challenge is, like I said, we haven’t been socialized how to feel them, and it feels scary to allow them in, because we fear that they’ll take over and never go away. This is simply not true. There is irony that the more you allow yourself to feel them, the quicker they’ll pass.
So here are some tools, taken from the book Burnout, on how to work through the emotion cycle so you can process them quicker and not get stuck in the middle:
1. Physical activity – get up and move. Doesn’t matter what kind of movement, just move your body; it’ll cycle the energy, so the emotion doesn’t get stuck
2. Breathe – consciously breathe in and out; it’ll calm the brain and body
3. Connect with people you care about – we are social beings and are wired for connection, so reach out to others so you don’t feel alone or isolated
4. Laughter – real belly laughs are healing; even recalling a previous time that you laughed can help heal your emotions
5. Physical touch – touch is powerful and releases positive chemicals in our brain that make us feel safe, loved and connected so hug someone (or ask for a hug) to help you feel comforted
6. Cry – a good old-fashioned cry is healing; and focus on the sensation of crying, rather than feeding the negative thoughts as to why you are crying
7. Creative Expression – this can look different for everyone, but the key is to do something creative: write, draw, dance, express yourself
If you want to read more about this, check out the book Burnout, by Emily and Amelia Nogaski. I hope you found these tips helpful.