Our emotions can be hard to handle in the best of times, but during this time of uncertainty they can feel like a hurricane, sweeping us off our feet into the eye of the storm. I think the term “Coronacoaster” perfectly demonstrates our fluctuating emotion, ranging from a sense of unease, anxiety and frustration one day, to grief, anger and sadness the next. Please remember if you are feeling this way you are not alone.
In this post I will share a few techniques I use both personally and with the individuals I work with in Wellbeing Coaching. These techniques remind us that, although it may not feel like it sometimes, we can learn to manage our emotions rather than them controlling us.
1) Acceptance - this may be the most difficult technique to grasp, and certainly one that takes practice, but also the most important. Have you ever heard of the phrase “What you resist persists”? That’s exactly what we need to remember here – by learning to sit with our emotions without trying to push them away, we can give ourselves distance from them and finally start to learn what they are trying to tell us and how we can best take care of ourselves. Feeling is healing.
2) Practice Grounding Techniques – when we’re in the midst of a difficult emotion, such as anxiety or anger, we may feel as if the mind is running away with us and experience a number of uncomfortable and sometimes frightening sensations such as a fast heart rate, sweating more than usual, getting hot and flustered and feeling nauseous. We can use grounding techniques to counteract this, to anchor us to the present moment and to help you regain control.
Examples of grounding are:
- Naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste
- Mentally scanning the body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes
- Play the categories game with yourself – think of as many types of cars, chocolate bars, TV shows, bands etc as you can
- Drinking a cold glass of water, clenching and releasing your fists or simply taking a few big, deep breaths.
3) Create a Self-Soothe Kit – this is a great coping tool to have in our toolkit (and is also an example of the grounding we talked about above!) and involves gathering a number of items together focusing on the 5 senses.
For example, you might have a photograph of a happy memory for sight, a CD or a list of your favourite music for sound, a candle or lavender oil for smell, a piece of soft fabric or a favourite soft toy for touch and a mint or tangy sweet for taste – you could even have a recipe of your favourite meal or takeaway menu! Keep this in a safe and convenient place so it is easily accessible when you are experiencing these difficult emotions.
4) Prioritise Self-Care – everyone’s version of self-care is different and can encompass different areas. For example, taking care of ourselves physically may mean eating healthy and satisfying foods, drinking enough water, moving your body in a way that feels good for us, making time to relax and getting enough sleep.
Self-care for our emotional wellbeing may include things such as utilising breathing techniques, journaling, having fun, learning a new skill, connecting with others, practicing self-compassion, expressing ourselves creatively or simply getting your favourite pj’s on and reading a good book. Carve out some time each day to practice self-care, and on those extra tough days make sure you give yourself a sprinkling more.
5) Reach out – this may be last, but it’s certainly not least. We are going through a tough time at the moment and there’s no shame in needing that little bit of extra support. Make sure you reach out to friends and friends, work colleagues, or if that doesn’t feel accessible at the moment, helplines such as Samaritans (116 123) or the Lancashire Care NHS Mental Health Helpline (0800 915 4640) are always there to listen and provide emotional support.
I’d love to hear about the tips and tricks you have in your coping toolkit!