July 11, 2010

Emotions

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:41 pm by kellyfdennis

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it is relatively easy to be non-judgmental about your emotional experience and sometimes it’s very difficult? There are circumstances that seem to make us more vulnerable to our emotions; allowing our emotions to control us, instead of the other way around.

In a book about Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the authors (Debra Safer, Christy Telch, and Eunice Chen) make some suggestions for reducing our vulnerability to what they call “emotion mind”. Although, these suggestions seem like common sense, I would imagine that many of us have missed the connection between them and effective management of our emotional selves.

Treating Physical Illness. Do you ever ignore your body’s signals to slow down, rest, sleep, drink more?  Do you tend to expect your body to function the same way it always does, even when you’re sick?  Paying attention to the messages your body is telling you when you are not physically feeling well can go a long way in avoiding the “crankies”.  Take care of your physical needs when you are sick to avoid being vulnerable to over reacting to your emotional self.

Balanced Eating. Eating poorly can lead to feelings of low energy, grouchiness and irritability.  Fueling our bodies with the food it needs can also reduce emotional vulnerability.

Balancing sleep.  7-9 hours a night needed for most of us. Have you ever noticed yourself reaching for a caffeinated drink, or a sugary snack instead of maybe closing your eyes for a few moments?  Masking tiredness with other less effective solutions can make you vulnerable to your emotions as well.

Getting adequate exercise.  Exercise is good for body, mind and spirit.  Regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and increase one’s sense of well-being. Regular physical exercise doesn’t need to be limited to just going to the gym.  Gardening, housework, playing with the kids, going for a stroll in the evening, swimming, playing back yard games are all good sources of physical activity.  Get moving to reduce your moodiness!

Building mastery. This simply means engaging in activities that increase your confidence and lead to a sense of competence. Feeling more satisfied and fulfilled with your life may decrease your vulnerability to feelings of depression and/or anxiety. Building mastery can involve a hobby-like activity such as jewelry making or knitting.  Even nurturing your garden early in the summer to enjoy the benefits of your hard work as the plants produce vegetables can create a sense of mastery as you bite into a juicy ripe tomato!

This list of ways to reduce your vulnerability to judging your emotions isn’t all-inclusive.  Engaging in regular social activity, trying new things, taking care of a pet are other ways that the people who sit across from me have found that decrease their tendency to judge themselves and their emotions in a negative way. It’s about increasing your own awareness of when you are engaging in the judging thoughts and then challenging and changing them.

After all, would you want to be friends with someone who insulted you all the time?  That’s essentially what you’re doing when you negatively judge your own emotional experience. Try some of the things mentioned above and blog about your experience.

Stay Cool!

stefdennis

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