How to Manage Emotions When Life Gets Tough

Excitement. Hope. Determination. That’s how 2020 started—with new goals and drive to make it the best year yet. And then the devastating global pandemic hit and our emotions did a 180. Fear. Frustration. Grief. What was meant to be an unforgettable year has turned into a collision of emotions. And those are incredibly hard to navigate.

Darlene Mininni, author of The Emotional Toolkit, suggests that all emotions can be funneled into four main categories (listed below). She invites us to ponder the message of our emotions to better understand how to identify and cope. Working through each of these emotions nourishes our spiritual self and provides inner light. And light helps dispel darkness.

Our bodies, uniquely intertwined with our spirits and emotions, also provide hints on how to identify our feelings. Discovering these body cues can also help us better tune in to our souls—our core selves that desire healing and oneness.

Anxiety

Message to ponder: What am I afraid of?

My chest tightens and panic sets in. It’s hard to breathe and my palms are sweaty. My heart races. Adrenaline pumps through my veins. Anxiety.

Each of us has moments such as these…before a big test, asking someone out, or inquiring about a pay raise. Even on the daily, anxiety can creep in as we attempt to complete regular tasks. Anxiety frazzles our spirits and keeps us from finding solace when our soul desperately needs it.

So, how do we handle it? The number one idea from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America…take a time-out. “Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head” (adaa.org). As we slow down and step away from the anxiety, our spirits will feel the peace it deeply desires in tough times.

Sadness

Message to ponder: What have I lost?

Darkness seeps in and I feel like I’m drowning. My muscles feel heavy. The tears won’t stop and I just want to sleep. Grief is exhausting.

According to Mental Health America, the best way to cope with sadness is to seek out caring people. Neighbors, friends, and roommates can help fill your empty soul when you have experienced loss of some kind. Generous gestures from others can help cut through the darkness of grief. Feeling connection helps spark our inner light, a vital part of our spiritual core. And if you’re in a good place right now, remember that someone, somewhere is experiencing this sadness. Be that kind person.

Anger

Message to ponder: How have I or my values been attacked? 

The veins in my forehead want to burst. My blood pressure is skyrocketing and I’ve got to bite the inside of my cheek so I don’t yell. All the ugly words just want to come tumbling out.

Anger blinds our ability to see our circumstances with a spiritual perspective. Viewing challenges through a spiritual lens can help alleviate unnecessary pain and frustration. However, it’s important not to judge those who instantly jump to this emotion during a tough time. We are all different and handle hard moments in our own unique way.

Physical excursion helps release the tension of anger. Go throw some glass bottles. Scream in an empty car. Find a punching bag. I promise you’ll feel better. If you’re not the physical type, write an angry letter and then burn it. Go on a walk and take some deep, healing breaths. Just remember to step away and take a minute for you.

Happiness

Message to ponder: What have I gained?

The muscles in my face slightly ache from the smile on my face. I feel light and positive energy coursing through my veins. I could just hug everyone who passes me. My heart is grateful.

If you’ve mastered how to feel joy amidst a trial, I applaud you. I believe it starts with developing a grateful mindset. Ralph Marston said, “Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”

Our gift of choice, a unique part of our spiritual identity, enables us to find happiness. Pure joy comes from internal changes, not your external circumstances. Feel all the emotions during this challenging time. But know this: you are strong. One simple, grateful thought at a time and you’ll find your way back to happiness.