We all sometimes want to pretend that we aren’t feeling a certain way. It’s easier to ignore when we are upset about something someone said. Or about something that happened to us. But why should we process our feelings? Feelings have a rhythm of their own – they arrive, they linger, they pass. Often it is better to face those feelings head-on and allow them to follow their natural cycle than to avoid them. There’s a great poem that touches on that. A Poison Tree by William Blake starts with the words, “I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.” That’s how feelings work: We need to get negative feelings out so they don’t poison us from the inside.
It’s seems like the easier thing to try to numb or suppress our feelings, especially negative or difficult ones. But if we keep suppressing uncomfortable feelings, they can come back with even more force down the road. Experiencing your emotions in a safe way and at your own pace can help you heal emotionally.
Here are some ways to process feelings that are hard to deal with:
Talk to a friend, family member, or caregiver.
Just talking about your challenge can help take a huge load off your chest. And you never know when the person you are talking to could bring a new perspective on your challenge! Even better – talking to a therapist or other mental health professional can be a beneficial step to take on the road to self-discovery.
Write about or draw pictures of your feelings.
Creative expression is proven to help people work through their mental and emotional challenges. Writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps put words and/or visuals to what you are feeling. That’s why we made the Shadow’s Edge game! We made our game so young people can do both in a place they are already spending time – on their phones. If you haven’t yet, we hope you will consider trying our free game designed to help people express, process and move through intense feelings.
Take a walk or get some form of exercise, dance, or movement.
It’s scientifically proven that moving your body can help you through moments of stress, anxiety, or depression. That’s because when you exercise, your body releases different “happy hormones” that make you biologically more inclined to feel… well… happy! And when you can use those happy hormones to give yourself a quick break from whatever is weighing on your mind, it becomes easier to work through your challenges sooner rather than later.
Try a change of scenery.
Sometimes just getting out of our comfort zone is the nice change of pace we needed. Going for a walk in the park, checking out an art gallery, or even eating your lunch outside instead of at your desk is a great way to shake things up.