We cannot escape uncomfortable emotions, and we'll experience them at some point in our lives. How we cope with uncomfortable emotions is vital to our well-being.
Uncomfortable emotions are a part of human existence. Whether you're dealing with work-related conflict or had an argument with your significant other, you will experience uncomfortable emotions at some point in your life.
Take a look at our guide to eight healthy coping skills for uncomfortable emotions, no matter what you're feeling.
What is Healthy Coping?
Healthy coping means you handle your reaction to emotions effectively and appropriately.
One type is called situation-focused coping. For example, your child comes home from school and tells you he is failing math. You feel frustrated because good grades can lead to better life skills and getting into college. Rather than yelling at your son to get his grades up or else, you determine the best way forward based on the situation.
The other relevant type of healthy coping skill is called emotion-focused coping. Rather than confronting your son or trying to solve the problem first, you read a book to distract your mind and calm down so you don't yell or get into an argument.
What is Unhealthy Coping?
Unhealthy coping means your behavior leads to consequences for your body and mind that are detrimental to your health. For instance, you're upset about a disagreement you had with a colleague at work. To mitigate those feelings of upset, you take out your frustrations on your family by yelling at them. Another form of unhealthy coping would be turning to alcohol, smoking, or drugs to escape from uncomfortable feelings.
Why are Healthy Coping Skills Necessary for Your Emotional Wellness?
Healthy coping skills offer a way for you to heal from emotional upsets, even ones buried deep in your mind from childhood that have become a regular part of your mindset. It's vital for you to start using healthy coping skills because they will help you become more resilient every time you employ them. If you haven't used a particular coping skill at first, it may take some getting used to. But the more you use them, the easier they will become second nature.
What are some Healthy Coping Skills you can use in Everyday Life?
We'll show you eight healthy coping skills you can use when dealing with uncomfortable emotions.
Emotion-Focused Healthy Coping Skills
Emotion-focused coping skills mean you deal with the emotions inside of you rather than the situation that caused them. These are usually activities you do by yourself.
Keeping a journal of your feelings helps you reflect on them. As you write about your feelings, you can see patterns in how you react to situations. When you notice these patterns, you can determine how to react before your feelings happen and even predict how you will feel when a similar situation occurs in the future.
Meditation allows you to unclutter your conscious mind to let your thoughts and feelings come to you rather than let your mind take over what you think and feel. Another benefit is that your mind works in the background, like a computer's operating system, to solve problems. You might gain insights during meditation that you wouldn't otherwise.
3. Distraction With an Activity
Distracting your mind is not the same as avoidance because distraction means you intend to deal with your feelings at some point. Perhaps you need a few hours to think. Distraction by focusing on another activity, like cleaning the house, exercising, or reading a book, can actually help your mind solve a difficult problem. Like meditation, distraction lets your mind's operating system work in the background. You might have a "eureka" moment when the solution comes to you out of nowhere because your unconscious thoughts make the right neural connections behind the scenes.
Light exercise, like walking or riding a bike, releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel better. They can help you relax while thinking about how to solve an emotional problem.
Problem-Focused Healthy Coping Skills
Problem-focused coping skills mean you handle the problem with the person or people causing your uncomfortable emotions.
1. Talk about solving the problem
Calmly talk to the person causing your uncomfortable emotions. If it's a family member, discuss the situation and determine how best to solve it. For instance, your pre-teen son spends too much time on a cell phone, and his grades are slipping. Talk to your child about how he can keep his phone provided he makes good grades and that you might take the phone away at some point if the grades become unacceptably low.
2. Lay out the consequences
If you are a supervisor at work, chances are good you'll have to reprimand a subordinate at some point. A healthy coping skill for a possibly uncomfortable conversation can be talking about what the subordinate needs to do to improve by laying out a plan and then delineating distinct consequences for not making improvements.
3. Discuss the problem with an impartial third party
Perhaps you've thought about how to solve the problem for weeks, and you're no closer to a solution. Discuss the situation with an impartial third party removed from the emotions. Talk to a trusted friend, a mentor, life coach, or a counselor on how best to proceed. That person may give you ideas or offer a healthy coping skill to help you solve the problem.
4. Practice makes perfect
You find yourself in a stressful situation you're not used to, such as hosting a party when you're introverted. Practice being extroverted and being a good host with people close to you, such as a life partner, family, and friends. That way, when it's time to host the party with complete strangers in attendance, you can navigate being a good host or hostess.
When you use these healthy coping skills for dealing with uncomfortable emotions, you'll experience a more relaxed and stress-free life. And remember, practice makes permanent. So, don't get frustrated as you learn a new way of coping with your emotions. Give yourself time to master these techniques.