Emotions (aka feelings) are a normal and important part of our lives.
Some emotions are positive. Think of happiness, joy, interest, curiosity, excitement, gratitude, love, and contentment. If you're like most people, you seek out these emotions. And, like most people, you are probably wary of negative emotions: Feelings like sadness, anger, loneliness, jealousy, self-criticism, fear, or rejection can be difficult, even painful at times.
Just as positive emotions can create a sense of well being, negative emotions can be stressful. That's especially true when we feel a negative emotion too often, too strongly, or we dwell on it too long.
Negative emotions are impossible to avoid, though. Everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don't have to be stressful.
Here are three steps that can help you manage or prevent the stress that may come with negative emotions.
Learning to notice and identify your feelings takes practice. In addition to focusing on your feelings, check in with your body, too. You may feel body sensations with certain emotions — perhaps your face gets hot, for example, or your muscles tense.
Once you've processed what you're feeling, you can decide if you need to express your emotion. Sometimes it's enough to just realize how you feel, but other times you'll want to do something to feel better.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can't shake a tough emotion. If you find yourself stuck in feelings of sadness or worry for more than a couple of weeks, or if you feel so upset that you think you might hurt yourself or other people, you may need extra help.
Talk to a school counselor, parent, trusted adult, or therapist. Counselors and therapists are trained to teach people how to break out of negative emotions. They can provide lots of tips and ideas that will help you feel better.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2013
|American Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.|
|Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) CMHS is a federal agency that provides information about mental health to users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) NIMH offers information about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses, and supports research to help those with mental illness.|
|Stress & Coping Center Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.|
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|Going to a Therapist Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.|
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