Emotional Resilience

It used to be thought that emotions had to be released either by cathartic crying, even to the point of hyperventilation, when sad, or hitting pillows when angry. Research in the field of neuroscience now shows that on the contrary, when we ramp up our emotions in this way we can actually be practicing them and telling our brains to produce more of them. Angry people get angrier and eventually create a 'short fuse'. It is more helpful to release the body tension produced by intense emotions by doing something physical, unrelated to the emotion, like going for a brisk walk or some other form of exercise to burn off the energy, and then a calming relaxing activity to calm the mind and regain our state of intelligent thinking where we have choices. Intense emotions affect our ability to think clearly as our body systems go into fight or flight mode.

The sadness of grief can be very intense and frightening and take a while to get to know and understand. Some people find that they naturally cry and feel better and others find crying makes the emotion too overpowering and that calming the mind and relaxing the body helps recover the sense of well being. Whichever type you may be learning to recognise the emotions and find healthy ways to experience them is helpful in the long term. There are a number of therapies that can explore this practice.

Anger, fear, and sadness are normal emotions to experience as humans and one helpful process is to notice, name, and then let them come and go without creating a big story around them in our minds.

Sometimes anger and fear are helpful and drive us to act in situations where apathy would be harmful to us. Emotions that persistently arise from automatic and habitual thinking though, are often the source of depression and anxiety that might be unrelated to what is happening in our current lives. Learning to recognise and let these habitual patterns go strengthens us up and makes us more resilient to the difficult events in our lives.