Emotional stress can be challenging and painful to deal with. Part of the reason is that thinking about an effective solution, or discussing emotional problems with a close friend — coping behaviors that are often effective and useful in solving problems — can easily worsen into rumination and co-rumination, which are not effective and useful. Indeed, rumination can deteriorate your stress levels, so it is better to make use of healthy strategies for dealing with emotional stress as well as redirecting yourself away from rumination and more toward positive approaches to stress management.
Reasons for Emotional Stress
Relationship stress conveys a heavy toll on our mental state and develops strong emotional responses because our relationships can have a great influence on our lives — for better or for worse. Strong and healthy relationships can bring good times; however, also resources in times of need, increased longevity, and even added resilience in times of stress. On the other hand, ‘frenemies’ and conflicted relationships can make us worse off in our emotional lives, and can also take a toll physically.
Relationships aren’t the only reason for emotional distress, though. An unpleasant work environment, financial crises, or a host of other stressors can cause emotional suffering, which sometimes tempts us toward unhealthy coping behaviors so as to escape the suffering, particularly when the situations seem hopeless. Possibly one of the more challenging aspects of coping or dealing with emotional stress is the feeling of hopelessness. In case we failed to change our stress levels by eradicating the stressful situation, we can work on our emotional response to it. Here are a number of emotionally proactive strategies to consider.
Coping With Emotional Stress
Fortunately, while you can’t always deal with these situations overnight, you can reduce the emotional stress you experience, and the toll this emotional stress takes on you. Here are a few exercises you can try to successfully cope with emotional stress:
Common belief used to be that if we failed to express every emotion we felt, they would somehow show themselves in different ways. To some extent, this is true: there are many advantages of assessing our emotional states to understand what our emotions are trying to tell us, and ‘stuffing our emotions’ in unhealthy ways can cause more problems. Although it’s also been found that distracting oneself from anxiety disorders symptoms with emotionally healthy alternatives — such as fun activities with friends, a feel-good movie, or a satisfying mental challenge — can help to reduce emotional pain and help us feel much better.
When we feel emotional stress, it’s similarly experienced as physical pain: a dull headache, a ‘heavy’ feeling in the chest, and an unsettled feeling in the stomach. It’s common to try to escape these emotional feelings; however, it can essentially be helpful to go deeper into the experience and use mindfulness to actually notice where these emotional responses are felt physically. A number of people notice that the pain seems more penetrating before dissipating; however, then they feel the physical and emotional pain is lessened.
Isolate for Some Time
In case you find that rumination and emotional stress creep into your awareness quite a bit, and distraction doesn’t work well, try isolating yourself for some time — few hours a day, perhaps — where you allow yourself to think about your condition and think over solutions, replay upsetting exchanges, concoct hypothetical possibilities, or whatever you feel the emotional urge to do. Journaling is also a good way to try here, especially if it’s done as both an exploration of potential solutions and an exploration of your inner emotional world. Talk to your family members or close friends about the problem, if you’d like. This technique works well because of two reasons:
- If you really have the wish to obsess, this enables you to satisfy that craving in a restricted context.
- You may find yourself more stress-free for the rest of the day since you know that there will be a time to focus on your emotional state; that time is just later.
Meditation proves to be very useful for dealing with mental health issues in teens, and emotional stress is absolutely in the category of mental health issues that meditation helps with. It enables you to take a break from rumination by keenly redirecting your feelings, and provides practice in picking thoughts, which can help eradicate some emotional stress in the long term. Try a number of meditation techniques today.
Talk to a Therapist
If you find your level of stress interfering with your everyday activities or hurting your well-being in other ways, you may think about seeing a therapist for help working through emotional problems.