Almost everyone suffer emotional pain at one point or the other, and as humans we constantly look for what can help ease the pain.
Three of the major mechanisms people resort to in easing their emotional pain is shopping, food, and alcohol which can lead to more stress than relief when any of them become a primary coping strategy.
Here, we will be talking about better options to coping with emotional pain?
How to Deal with Emotional Pain
First of all be informed that emotions can lead to distressing thoughts such as “what if” thoughts or judgmental thoughts (towards the self – sadness, or others – anger.)
They can also make us feel uncomfortable physically.
They can lead to emotion-driven behavior such as avoidance, withdrawal, aggression, etc, which can perpetuate the cycle of emotional pain.
Changing your experience with overwhelming emotions starts with changing your behaviors – how you think and how you act and letting go of some old coping mechanisms that no longer work.
Here are 9 ways to Cope With Emotional Pain
1. Find a New Hobby
Pick up a new hobby, something that you’ve always wanted to try or maybe something that you already know you love but haven’t made the time for. Love to read books? Borrow a book from the local library or purchase one on your tablet and start reading!
Do you enjoy looking at other people’s scrapbooks? Start one of your own! Create a vision board and paste images of everything that speaks to you. Use this to help you identify your interests and passions.
2. Move Your Body
While suffering from emotional pain you may not even want to get out of bed. Unfortunately, this can contribute to greater heaviness and depression.
Instead, go for a short walk around the block. Stand up and stretch. Dance to uplifting music in your living room.
Any type of physical movement can help you release the pain from your body. It feels counter-intuitive, you don’t have the energy to move, so how can moving help? Yet, moving when you’re feeling down can give you energy and lift your spirits. It can also help mobilize your nervous system giving you energy.
3. Don’t Ruminate
Don’t torture yourself by fixating on what caused the pain you’re suffering from. What has happened has already been done and cannot be undone.
Going over it again and again in your mind will only make things worse for you.
If you need to, ask yourself, what can you do now? What control do you have over the situation?
Watch out for shaming and blaming yourself as well.
If nothing can be done, your only and best choice is to simply to accept what is and allow yourself to feel what you feel.
It can be helpful to process your feelings with a friend, therapist or even write them out in a journal. When you access your feelings it can help you shut off your mind.
4. Stop Telling the Story
You may think that you’re no longer worrying about what caused the pain, but as soon as there is an open ear willing to listen, you find yourself retelling the story.
At first this can help, but at some point you have to stop telling the story as you’re just opening up the wound again.
Rather, focus on where you are now. What have you overcome? What resources have you used to get past the emotional pain?
Rather than venting, sink deeper into your most primary feelings about the situation and allow yourself to really experience them.
Sometimes, we get caught up in our secondary emotions around pain such as anger or anxiety, while blocking our most primary and important feelings, such as hurt or sadness.
Sometimes, while counter-intuitive, you can experience relief when allowing your most primary and painful emotions to express themselves. This is the emotion regulation strategy of name it to tame it.
Simply acknowledging and verbalizing what we feel can allow the feeling to dissipate (this is heavily backed by research. It works!).
5. Start Keeping a Journal
Did something good happen to you today? Write it in your journal along with a comment about how you’ll overcome this.
Something like, “I feel like I will have trouble trusting again. However, I know that one person out of the millions that surround me every day caused this. There will be others worthy of my trust. This one person wasn’t deserving of my trust, anyway.”
Have you been fighting back the tears? Don’t. Let them go.
Crying has health benefits such as releasing toxins from your body and relieving stress.
Meanwhile, bottling up such emotions can only poison your body and mind.
Actually, this is true. When we suppress or block our emotions, our body uses physical strategies such as constricting muscles, altering breathing and so forth.
These behaviors over time can lead to physical symptoms with digestion, chronic pain or immune related issues.
If you find it difficult to cry, try watching a movie that has similar themes to the pain you’re in.
7. Open Yourself to Others, Let Them In
Does it hurt you to see your loved ones suffering? The same goes for your loved ones when they see you suffering.
Don’t lock yourself up in your room and avoid others. Let them in, it benefits both them and you. Humans are social creatures, isolating yourself ends up exacerbating your pain.
8. Make a List of What You’re Thankful For
Write down everything that is good and positive. Are you thankful for your loving mother? Your supportive father? Even something like having a roof over your head counts. Write it all down and reflect upon it.
Practicing gratitude can give you perspective. The point is not to disregard negative emotions. It’s important to allow yourself to feel and experience those as well.
Rather, the point is to also recognize the good. Sometimes, we can get caught up focusing on what’s “wrong” and lose sight of all the “what’s right.”
A nice individual or family ritual to keep a gratitude jar. At the end of the day each person writes one thing they’re grateful for a slip of paper and places it into the jar. At the end of the month/year you can open and read them together or whenever you need to remember the good things.
9. Name it to Tame It
When you are struggling with emotional pain, take a moment to simply NAME what you are feeling.
Research shows that naming our feelings can relax the intensity of what we are experiencing. Thus, name it to tame it.