Us humans are incredibly emotional creatures. We are naturally sensitive, reactive and empathetic, capable of burning passion, overwhelming joy – and intense emotional pain.
Learning how to release emotional pain in a healthy way is something I used to seriously struggle with. Depression, anxiety and BPD made me prone to self-destruction, meaning any distressing emotion I had was met with [insert unhealthy coping mechanism here]. Literally any, it was that bad.
Mental illness or not, we all go through hardships in life. Whether it be a relationship breakdown or a close bereavement, there will come a time when knowing how to release our emotional pain in order to heal from it will be vital to our quality of life.
If you are struggling with emotional pain right now, here are some tips on how you can resolve, release and heal.
These tips are not meant to be substituted for medical advice. You can read my full disclaimer here.
Acknowledge and Accept Your Pain
Maybe you grew up in an emotionally-invalidating household. Maybe your friends are ‘buckle up and get on with it’ type of people. Maybe you feel as though if you just ignore your pain, it will go away.
Forcing yourself to ignore or ‘get over’ your whatever is troubling you can be dangerous. When you suppress painful feelings, you force them into the area of your brain that houses all of your subconscious fears. This is the perfect place for distressing emotions to fester and multiply, leading them to become even more ferocious than before.
In my case, this ignited an intense fear of my emotions and the possibility that they might overwhelm me completely.
Acknowledge that your emotions are valid. Accept that it is your negative responses to emotions (and not the emotions themselves) that are harmful. This not only allows you to be more self-compassionate, but it takes away some of the power that emotional pain has over you.
Journal Your Thoughts
Journaling is a great way of releasing and processing difficult-to-describe emotions, especially those that are deeply painful. Research shows that it is especially effective against depression, but it is also incredibly theraputic for feelings of overwhelm and stress.
If you find it difficult to think of the words to accurately sum up the depths of your emotional pain, that’s even more reason to write. Journaling as a form of therapy can help you to make sense of your emotional chaos, allowing you to identify, organise and rationalise hard-to-grasp negative thoughts.
Even just scribbling words on a page can relieve the overwhelming intensity of emotional pain.
Talk About Your Pain
Although things are progressing, as a society we are still not very good at sharing our problems. We are conditioned with a ‘get over it, other people have it worse’ mentality from a young age, causing us to bottle up our emotions in fear that we are ‘overreacting’.
This is incredibly damaging to our emotional intelligence because it makes us invalidate and repress our pain, prolonging and worsening it as a consequence.
“A problem will get heavier when the only person carrying it is you”
Confiding in a therapist, family member or friend can help to alleviate and release emotional pain in many ways. Not only does it strengthen your support network and potentially offer you sound advice, but it releases some of the weight of your problems off your shoulders.
Exercise To Release Pent Up Emotions
Exercise is widely-recognised to be an excellent form of emotional therapy. Research shows that it releases emotional turbulence, promotes emotional regulation and can even help to alleviate long-term depression.
Motion releases emotion, which is why there are so many reports of people crying after a workout! What’s even better is that you don’t have to join a gym or go for an early morning run either – any kind of motion can release pent-up emotional turmoil.
Stick on some music and dance around your bedroom. Do some star jumps or stretches, anything that raises your heart rate and gets your body moving.
Get Creative To Unleash Negative Emotions In A Positive Way
Many people find comfort, purpose and hope in artistic pursuits. Activities like creative writing, painting or playing an instrument are especially effective outlets because they allow us to safely engage with our emotional pain. They provide us with new, enlightening ways to interpret intense emotions and allow us to use our pain to create something beautiful.
Make Extra Time For Self-Care
When you’re dealing with emotional pain, looking after your self-care needs is vital for long-term recovery. However, it is often one of the main things that we neglect in hardship.
“Our pain is sometimes so overwhelming that simple acts of self-love become gruelling and ineffective chores”
There are five main areas of self-care, all of which are the foundations to our mental wellness. Basic self-care, like eating a balanced diet and taking care of personal hygiene, are just as important as our more complex self-care needs, like intellectual stimulation and supportive, toxic-free relationships.
Maintaining our five areas of self-care is a self-love practise that can gradually help you heal from emotional pain.
Stay Away From Drugs
It is very easy to turn to drugs when dealing with emotional pain, but the temporary relief that these substances provide can lead you down a very dangerous path.
I have a lot of experience with substance abuse. From my teenage years I self-medicated with alcohol and cannabis, welcoming the spaced-out giddiness that masked my turbulent emotions. It wasn’t long before I started dabbling in increasingly dangerous recreational drugs, chasing the high that would completely eradicate all of my emotional pain.
I never found it.
Resolving and releasing emotional pain takes a lot of strength and self-awareness. Even if you follow everything in this article, there will still be days when you feel those emotions threatening to overwhelm you. That’s because one of the biggest healers of emotional pain is something that we have no control over at all – time.
Time is the best healer, capable of mending many old wounds. It’s what we do in the passing of time that will determine whether or not it is able to work its healing magic.