Everyone experiences negative emotions like fear, sadness and anxiety from time to time. What counts is how we respond to these emotions and find healthy ways to process them so we can move forward with a renewed perspective. That’s why we’ll be sharing techniques that will help you process your emotions.
What Is Emotional Processing?
According to the Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy, emotional processing is defined as “the modification of memory structures that underlie emotions.” This means that emotions are represented within the brain as information and behavioral responses, and appropriate treatment should aim to form new images and information that lead to different responses.
In Comprehensive Clinical Psychology, Jeanne C. Watson and Jason M. Sharbanee describe how emotional processing is essential to survival.
“Blocks to emotional processing are seen to inhibit people’s capacity to lead full and satisfying lives,” an excerpt from the book in Science Direct reads. “Change comes from processing emotion in new ways and reorganizing the self, resulting in more positive relationships with self and other as well as more elaborated and refreshed narratives.”
Improving Emotional Processing Abilities
Many people are waking up to the idea that regular talk therapy or medication sometimes isn’t enough when it comes to mental health. There are several tried-and-true methods for improving emotional processing abilities, as well as emerging techniques that are showing promise for those living with mental health issues.
Techniques That Will Help Process Your Emotions
Here are three techniques to explore when it comes to processing stuck or difficult emotions:
1. Try Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)
According to Comprehensive Clinical Psychology, Emotion-Focused Therapy or EFT helps clients work through and understand their emotions by exploring certain emotional themes during sessions.
“A central tenet of EFT and other humanistic and experiential psychotherapies is to empower individuals as they deal with challenging life events and experiences,” the book explains.
Through this form of therapy, people are encouraged to acknowledge and express intense emotions in order to ultimately release them. EFT has also been adapted to specifically address the concerns of couples, so if your emotional issues are tied to your partner, this could be an effective avenue you’d like to explore together.
2. Express Your Emotions
When experiencing difficult emotions, it’s important to find a healthy balance between expressing them and sweeping them under the rug. The feelings you push down will ultimately rear their head one way or another, so it’s best to release tough emotions by crying, journaling for mental health, or trying to express them using another healthy method.
Try to avoid releasing negative emotions in ways that don’t negatively impact your life or relationships. For example, yelling at someone you love, throwing things, or turning to drugs and alcohol to run from your emotions will only have more negative impacts on your life and mental health down the line (this includes rage rooms, too).
3. Try Breathwork to Process Your Emotions
Ancient cultures have known the secrets of breathwork for centuries. Since it’s always with you, the breath serves as a powerful tool for emotional regulation when you’re feeling distressed, tired, sad, or any other emotion you’d like to work through.
The next time you feel anxious, try the box breath pattern to help process your emotions: breathe in to a count of four, hold for four, release for four, and hold your breath out for four, before repeating the pattern again. Soon, you’ll find your emotions calming as your breath slows as you engage the parasympathetic nervous system. Focusing on your breathing is a proven method to release stress quickly.
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