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by Maddie Lukens, MA

Does fall feel different this year? Usually we find ourselves ready for the cooler weather, easing back into the “normalcy” much of our families expect with the changing of seasons. But if you’re anything like me, this fall feels different – since March it seems like we have been expecting change to come, for something to look different, for life to return to “normal.” Depending on what your life looks like, normal likely looks different for you than it does for me – and that’s okay. What I do think, however, is that many of us might be experiencing moments or days where we feel more anxious, irritable, or sad than usual.

It’s normal to feel a variety of ways in the midst of a global pandemic – a lot is being asked of us as individuals and families and we continue to be impacted by things outside of our control. We have jobs, we are parents, some of us are in school, we have medical needs that require attention, the list goes on. We each likely are wearing a number of hats at the moment and it can be stressful to try to manage all the roles we find ourselves in.

Regardless of how each of us is getting through the day or week, we can all use a bit of encouragement on how to handle sudden emotions when they come up. These tips are geared primarily towards adolescents and adults. Part Two will be tips on how to support younger kids, so make sure to follow up next week!

Here are some tips to help manage sudden emotions, or help someone you love better manage their emotions:

1. Name the emotion. Are you feeling overwhelmed, tired, anxious, burnt-out, angry, irritable, sad, disappointed, etc. Once you can name what you are feeling, it is easier to identify a healthy outlet to manage that emotion.

2. Think about what happened prior in your day. Perhaps you have felt the anger pent up from last night’s argument with your teenager and then what happened at work today was finally the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Next thing you know, you are yelling at your dog when you get home. It might be important to recognize that you still felt angry about something that happened the previous day, and it wasn’t just what happened at work that left you feeling angry.

If you woke up feeling anxious, think back – was there a conversation that was left unresolved, or do you just feel anxious about what is going on in your life? It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why we might be feeling something, but too often we brush over where the emotion is coming from in favor of wanting the emotion to go away.

Unfortunately emotions don’t just disappear (even though we wish they would sometimes!). Emotions are our greatest informant – they allow us to empathize, grieve, cry, revel in deep joy, experience the fullness of our humanity.

3. Do a quick body scan. Ask yourself: do I feel my heart racing, are my thoughts moving through my mind faster than normal, am I having a difficult time focusing? Do I have aches and pains, a headache or stomachache? For people who regularly experience anxiety, body awareness is a helpful tool.

4. Take the necessary steps to get the support you need. If you are feeling lonely, can you call a friend or set up a FaceTime/coffee date? If you are feeling overwhelmed by numerous tasks, can you write them down and choose some to delegate? If you are feeling angry, maybe going for a quick run or doing a workout would be a good outlet to help you manage it.

Start Online Counseling in Pennsylvania

Not all of these tips will work for everyone, but that is the benefit of saying yes to counseling. At Lime Tree Counseling, our counselors are here to help you develop the skills and awareness you need to help you live a fully functional, healthy life. Our specialities include anxiety counseling, grief support, marriage therapy, and cross-cultural counseling. In certain seasons you or a loved one might need more support and there is nothing wrong with that. We’d feel honored to come alongside you during this challenging time. Contact us today!