If you’re tired of feeling unhappy, anxious and depressed, now’s the time to take the steps necessary in order for you to release your negative emotions. Here are four sets of effective exercises that may be able to help you. Use a combination of these strategies, as needed, to improve your circumstances and get your life back on track.
1. Reboot your body and mind
Countdown from one hundred to one, go for a walk around the park, open up a book of scriptures and read a chapter or practice some deep breathing exercises. Visit the gym for a high-intensity workout, take a nap, do a sudoku puzzle, hit a punching bag, practice some yoga or meditation, organize a closet or do something else that you can pour your full attention into. Take thirty minutes to step outside of your situation and just focus on the task of your choice, dedicating your mind and body to nothing else.
After this half-an-hour reboot, come back to your negative emotions and see if the intensity of your feelings has lessened. Although a bad day and difficult people can still look like a bad day and difficult people, your ability to cope with these challenges may be greatly enhanced. If taking thirty minutes to yourself was marginally helpful but you still need more time to cool off, take another hour or two to walk away from a hard-to-manage situation. Meditate, do a hands-on craft, watch your favorite movie, visualize your happy place, take a bath or listen to some peaceful music. Give your mind a chance to reset and let the pleasant distractions help take the edge off of your feelings. Once the rawness of your negative emotions has been filed off, you’ll be in a better position to appropriately address what still needs to be faced head on.
2. Write a letter to yourself
When feelings of sadness, uncertainty and grief have you feeling overwhelmed, one convenient exercise to help you acknowledge your feelings and release your emotions can be to write down everything you’re feeling. This method can be empowering, motivating and effective so consider writing yourself a letter the next time you feel suffocated by your circumstances and unable to let your voice be heard.
Remember, writing yourself a letter can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. There’s no possibility of others judging you, there’s no need to wait until someone else can fit you in his schedule and there are no costs involved so what are you waiting for? Get out a pen and piece of paper and begin listing every thought you have. “I feel so frustrated, hurt and betrayed by someone who claims to be my best friend”. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want to while describing all of your negative emotions. Give yourself permission to write down what you really want to say and how you really feel, holding nothing back.
When you feel satisfied with your letter, start reading your words back to yourself; either in your head or aloud. Let yourself be in the moment: crying if you feel like crying, curling up if you feel like curling up, clinging to a stuffed animal if you need something to hold onto. At the end of reading your letter, take a few more minutes to identify if there’s anything you forgot to say in your note to yourself, if there are any words you’re still holding back. Jot down a “P.S.” note as needed and then read that part to yourself as well.
When you feel like you were finally able to say everything you wanted to say and express every emotion you’re struggling with, it’s time to experience the joy of getting rid of the letter. You can tear up the paper into a million pieces using your hands, strike a match and watch the letter turn into ashes, run the paper through a shredder or use some other method of choice to eliminate the note. The act of destroying the letter can help you let go of the concerns outlined in the letter, giving you a clear signal that it’s time to move forward.
3. Talk with someone you trust: a friend, spiritual adviser or counselor
Depending on the circumstance, rebooting your mind and writing yourself a letter may not be powerful enough on their own to help you deal with strong emotions. As your mental health dictates, don’t hesitate to talk with someone you can trust about your situation. Speak with a spiritual leader, a professional counselor or a close friend who’s removed from the situation and can simply provide a listening ear. Express your feelings and participate in role-playing exercises if they help you to communicate what you need to stop bottling up.
4. Let yourself move on
After you’ve addressed an unpleasant situation as best you can, ultimately the best exercise to help you release negative emotions is letting yourself move on. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Count your blessings and tell yourself each day that things are going to be okay in the end. Stop replaying negative thoughts in your head and start replacing bad memories with good ones. Even though there may still be pain in your heart, don’t suppress the positive emotions you’re capable of also feeling. Little by little, day by day, you can let love and joy overcome your negative feelings.
At one point in life, I was in definite need of an emotional reboot but I didn’t know where to start. Before I tried these exercises for myself, I didn’t believe they could really change what I felt. Once I finished writing myself a letter and employing these other practices, I was so grateful that I really did get to communicate everything I wanted to about a bad situation. At that point, I really was ready to tear up my letter and be done with the pain, grief and anxiety that overwhelmed me. The circumstances surrounding me didn’t magically change, but my ability to approach the challenges of life increased. Now, I continue to turn to these simple exercises whenever my feelings get out of balance. As a result, I know that I am positively affected and enabled. Hopefully these exercises will similarly provide you with the help you need.