Life is messy.
And no matter how hard we try to avoid them, disrupting events are part of our day-to-day lives and are often difficult to avoid: someone cuts you off in traffic, you are late for an appointment, you get a nasty phone call, or you watch the news.
How you handle your feelings caused by stress will make the difference between staying balanced and strong or getting pulled into frustration, fear, and anxiety.
If possible, dissipate negative emotions the instant they flare up. When I’m alone, I like cussing and talking to myself when I’m having a rough day. The sooner you respond to anger or irritation, the faster you’ll get it out of your system.
Holding on to negative feelings and allowing them to linger is toxic for your well-being. What’s more, bad emotions can quickly turn into nasty moods and are easily spread from one person to another.
5 Steps to Cleanse Negative Feelings
Follow one of the five steps below whenever you feel pressured, hurt, or upset. They will help you to reset your emotional system and regain balance and calm.
1. Notice What’s Happening
Most of us have a tendency to avoid feeling bad, so we ignore or repress our emotions instead of dealing with them head on. Unfortunately, problems and negative feelings don’t just go away. They fester under the surface and reemerge when you least expect it. During this first step, simply be aware of your emotions and feel them fully.
2. Write It Out
Talking to others when you are angry isn’t all that helpful. Friends or partners often try to give well-meaning advise, or even worse, get infected with our bad mood. A more effective approach is to write down what you are experiencing. I have an app on my phone for this purpose and whenever I feel down, I take a moment to get it out of my system. I write out everything I feel, my thoughts, my fears, the whole mess. And when I’m done, I simply hit delete.
3. Act It Out
This is especially effective when you have deep seated emotions that you’ve been holding on to for some time. In a safe place, act out your emotions. Cry, beat a pillow, scream (very effective when driving long distance or at night) or throw a pity party. To simply release negative emotions without wallowing in them or getting stuck in drama, time your outbursts: give yourself 30 minutes of angry screaming into the wind, an hour of self pity, 10 minutes of a good cry. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after the allocated time ran out. A word of caution: pick a safe environment where you are undisturbed when doing this exercise .
4. Sweat It Out
Another great way of cleansing your emotional system is to exercise. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, biking, weight lifting, boxing, or cleaning the house: make sure to get a good heavy workout and to sweat plenty! You’ll feel much calmer and more restored afterwards.
5. Feel it!
If your heart is heavy and you can’t get rid of the pressure you are under, take some time to get swept away by your feelings. A safe and therapeutic way to do this is to watch heartbreaking, action packed, or funny movies. A story well told will trigger your feelings of sadness, hurt, and anger and release them – allowing compassion and love to reenter your system. Some of my favorite movies for this purpose are Thelma & Louise, My Cousin Vinnie, Saving Private Ryan, and A Perfect World.
Bonus Step: Do What You Love
The single fastest way to get back to your happy place is to engage in something that drives away your mood. Anything that makes you happy and helps you come alive. For me, writing, designing, playing with colors, having deep conversations, or simply going to a coffee house and enjoying a nice calming cup of tea always does the trick.
Curious: do you have your own proven methods of getting rid of anger or a grumpy mood? What do you do when you get infected with the negativity virus? Please share with us in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading.
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