Healthy Ways to Express Your Emotions
Emotions are a part of life. Many of us experience a wide variety of emotions from joy to sadness to excitement and anger. Allowing yourself to feel different emotions without judgment is an important part of improving and maintaining your mental health. However, it is also important to express your emotions healthily. Have you ever felt like you were being misunderstood when expressing your feelings? This is a common occurrence when we are experiencing an emotion like anger or frustration. The more intense your emotions become the more difficult it is to communicate effectively, which only adds to the difficult feeling you may be experiencing. If you are feeling misunderstood by your parents, teachers, friends, or other people in your life, here are some tips to help you effectively express your emotions.
Effective communication allows us to share an idea or thought with another person, and have that person understand what is being shared. Effectively expressing your emotions can help you release tension and help the people in your life understand you. We first need to identify the emotion(s) we are feeling. A helpful tool when identifying your emotions is an emotion wheel. Many of us use the same few emotions to express how we feel. Anger, for example, can be a protective emotion. Think of the last time you were angry. Why were you angry? Looking at the wheel we can see that anger may be; frustration, jealousy, the feeling of being violated or betrayed. Once you have identified why you are angry, you can explain your feelings to others.
However, at times expressing your emotions is a solo activity. You may not want to talk to someone about how you are feeling, but you still have to acknowledge the emotion to yourself. Some activities that may help you healthily express your emotions include; laughing, crying, listening to your favorite playlist, journaling, exercising, meditating, or engaging in another self-care activity. Sometimes expressing your emotions looks like screaming into a pillow until your frustration is less intense.
Validating Your Emotions
When you express your emotions it’s important to validate how you are feeling. Have you ever told yourself that you are being dramatic, or that you have no reason to feel the way you feel? Most of the time this type of self-talk does not make us feel better. One way to validate yourself is to label your emotions without judgment. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel the way you feel. For example, if you are looking forward to spending time with a friend, and that friend cancels on you, it is okay to feel sad, frustrated, or even angry. At first, your emotions may be very intense because you are disappointed, and that is okay! It is hard to express your emotions when you are telling yourself you shouldn’t feel the way you do, so try doing the opposite.
Seeking Additional Support
We are not always able to handle big feelings on our own. If you are feeling overwhelmed beyond what you can handle, reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or another trusted adult for support. If these resources are not available to you, the following resources offer real-time support to individuals in distress.
- For peer support, try Teen Line, a resource that connects teens in distress with other teens who can offer support and resources.
- For LGBTQIA+ affirming support, check out the 24/7 chat services provided by The Trevor Project.
- Other organizations providing 24/7 call/chat/text support include; Crisis Text Line, The Trans Lifeline, and The National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
What do you do to express your emotions? Do you have any advice for teens struggling to communicate their emotions?