We all experience negative emotions at times, but if we don’t handle them productively these emotions can very quickly manifest affecting both our mental and physical health. Often we are caught between knowing that we need to be more open about the way we are feeling (bottling our emotions only has negative effects further down the line) but fearing we will handle these negative feelings in the wrong way.

Here are 4 simple steps you can take to help when your emotions become overwhelming:

1) Review the situation

Can you pinpoint what is making you stressed? Maybe it is an overwhelming workload, maybe you are rushing around trying to fit too many tasks into your day? If we are able to identify the ‘trigger’ or situation causing us to experience these negative emotions, we are already in a better position to handle them Sometimes it may be a person causing us to feel negative emotions or think about a situation in a distressing light- ever felt guilty and stressed for running late? Thinking you will be frowned upon at work for your lateness? Feeling you have let somebody down? Even when there is no conclusive evidence behind these thoughts, our brains are clever at making us believe this to be the truth. Yet, until we understand the problem causing us to think in this way, we are unable to make the necessary changes.

2) Modifying our behaviours or the situation

Once we have recognised the situation causing the negative emotions, we are in a better position to actively take steps to modify the situation: this may be reducing our workload, or simply switching the focus to ourselves. ‘Assertive communication’ will also help. This is the practice of expressing our rights and feelings to others at the beginning of the situation. By establishing boundaries and clarifying what you need from another person, you will feel more in control and at ease in the situation rather than let it prove to be stressful.

3) Modifying our thoughts

Sometimes it is not possible to modify the situation. However even in this scenario we can be in control of changing our thought process, thus addressing the way the situation is affecting us. Through an effective technique called ‘cognitive reappraisal’ we work on replacing thoughts that lead to unhappiness, replacing them instead with joy and contentment. It is best to work with a professional who is trained in CBT to achieve this, as they will help you recognize, challenge and change cognitive distortions and negative thought patterns. Our Choices personalized retreats program uses an interactive and hands on CBT approach offering evidence based practical tools to reframe patterns of negative thinking and behaving. This helps highlight how we are always in control of altering the way we feel.

Similarly, our Choices personalized retreats program uses a process called ‘Cognitive hypnotherapy’- this is a relatively new approach merging cognitive behavioural therapy with the humanistic sciences of positive psychology. This has been proven to aid further healing, recovery and change by reducing negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. It also focuses on challenging ‘triggering’ behaviours such as smoking and emotional eating.

4) Finding an outlet

Often finding a healthy ‘outlet’ when negative emotions arise can be beneficial in helping us remain calm. Several methods to try include increasing your exercise intake, journal writing (to document thoughts and feelings) and yoga. Dealing with unhealthy emotions in this way will help you to feel less overwhelmed and out of control. Our Choices Personalized retreats program encourage using the above methods, but also the useful practice of ‘mindfulness’and ‘mediation’to help find your inner ‘space’ Both these practices are proven to bring our attention back to the present and help us focus on the internal and external experiences happening in the moment. Seated meditation with the eyes closed is the most common way to achieve this, but we work with you to personalize each aspect of our programme. This enables you to thrive in recovery, reduce negative emotions in the most effective way and have a tailored method that works for you.

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