Dos and Donts for Handling Negative Emotions
Updated: Jan 22
Managing anxiety, sadness, anger, and depression
NOTE: I am not a mental healthcare professional. I'm just a woman who's had her fair share of bad days and survived every single one of them!
DO NOT air your dirty laundry on social media. It's ok to share how you're feeling, but do not drop names, slander, or insult anyone. If you're extremely upset about something, calm down before you post anything to social media because you risk speaking out of anger and saying something that you'll really regret. Don't use passive aggressive memes, and don't fish for support by saying things like, "Ugh, I'm so done" or "Why do I even bother?"
DO contact a trusted friend or family member after you've calmed down so you can explain to them what's happening. If you feel like you have no one to talk to, post in a forum on a safe website expressing how you feel. If you're lucky enough to not come across any trolls, you'll most likely find other people who have been through what you're experiencing and how they were able to overcome. At the very least, you'll have people who will show you sympathy and give you a nice little virtual hug.
DO NOT ignore your feelings. You're a human being and experiencing negative feelings is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of.
DO write down how you're feeling. Thoroughly write whatever happened to you that's making you feel low, how you feel about the situation, why you feel that way, and how you hope to resolve the issue peacefully. Don't stop writing if it's upsetting you. Get it all out. If you're overwhelmed, take a break from it, calm down and come back to your writing. This is great to do especially if you're facing a situation that frequently causes problems in your life. Writing out what's going on and how you feel can even help you figure out a way to solve the problem safely yourself.
DO NOT listen to sad, angry, or angsty music. Yes, it does feel good hearing someone sing
how you're feeling - and listening to something that matches your mood provides a sort of romantic soundtrack to your situation, but all you're doing is adding fuel to the fire. I
DO listen to upbeat music that has a moderate tempo. As much as you're not going to be in the mood to listen to Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen, I guarantee it's going to chase a few of those dark clouds away - even if it's for a few minutes. Some relief is better than no relief.
DO NOT drink yourself into a stupor. For eons, drinking alcohol until you can no longer feel anything (or stand up straight) has been the number one coping method for dealing with negative feelings. Numbing your feelings with alcohol is a temporary fix that has the potential to make things worse.
Excessive drinking can:
Change your behavior by making you more irritable, aggressive, or even more depressed.
Make you feel like absolute crap the next day. Now you're sad and you feel and look like roadkill.
Become a life and health ruining habit.
Cause poor judgment which leads you to do unwise things like texting exes, starting fights, binge eating, and impaired driving.
DO take natural supplements that help control the symptoms of physical stress and low moods. Drink herbal teas that promote calm like Yogi's Kava Stress Relief blend or simple chamomile.
DO NOT inflict physical harm on yourself. Engaging in self-harm such as cutting or burning yourself, punching walls, drug and alcohol binging, or even exercising to the point of vomiting or fatigue will not help you at all. This way of coping with negative emotions can easily develop into a dangerous and potentially life-threatening habit. Cutting was my way of dealing with my depression from age 13 and into my early 20s, so I know from experience it is a very hard habit to break and I regret indulging in it very much.
DO a moderate exercise if you're feeling like harming yourself. Go for a jog, jump rope, do some jumping jacks, take a hike, or Vinyasa yoga. Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins which can trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Check out this great article HERE for more information.
►►If you're struggling with self-harm please read this article HERE.
DO NOT say, "I don't want to talk about it" every time someone reaches out to you to help or comfort you. This can make people not want to reach out to you because they know you're only going to turn them away.
DO appreciate the help and open up and express yourself when you're ready. It's ok to take a day or two to not focus on your issues so you can calm down and speak rationally when you're ready, but you're going to need to talk about it eventually - sooner than later. If it's something you feel is too intense or too disturbing for that person to hear, reach out to a well-seasoned listener like a church pastor or a professional therapist.
DO NOT obsess and stew in your negative feelings. Constantly thinking about how upset you are is only going to make you feel worse.
DO distract yourself from your feelings for a few hours or even a day so you can give your body, mind, and spirit a rest. Take the time to NOT think about your situation for a little while - watch a movie, get a massage, get a facial, go for a jog, go shopping, go to a concert, etc. This is especially important to do if you've reached the point of extreme tension, nervousness, panic attacks, headaches, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, your problems will still be there waiting for you when you're done but at least now you can battle them with a clear head and a rested soul.
DO NOT treat people poorly because you're not feeling well. When we're feeling down, it's very common and perfectly natural to want to be left alone. When someone disrupts our brooding we often lash out and say hurtful things because we are too blinded by our own misery to be considerate of other people's feelings. I've struggled with this all my life. So many times have I let my funky moods control my will to be a decent human being and no one deserves that - especially if they've done nothing to hurt me. I have given people the silent treatment who have done me no harm and I was just plain rude and snarky to people all because I wasn't feeling tip-top. Take it from me: this will get you forever labeled as a grade-A jerk and no one likes to be around a jerk.
DO treat others the way you would like to be treated no matter how bad you feel. Before you face people, especially at work or school, give yourself a pep talk and encourage yourself to be respectful and leave the negative feelings at home. If something negative happens while you're out and about - find a quiet place to go to alone, take deep calming breaths and remind yourself over and over to be kind no matter what.
DO NOT entertain the idea of suicide as a way to cope. Suicide isn't coping, suicide is THE END... forever. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Show yourself some mercy and accept that you are a flawed human being just like everyone else.
DO seek help immediately if you're feeling suicidal. Call a friend, call a suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), or even check yourself into a mental rehabilitation center. Do whatever you can to stay afloat until you can resolve your issues.
DO NOT refuse to smile or laugh when you come across something that's funny just because you're blue or angry.
DO LAUGH!! Yes!! At a point when all you want to do is hide under your bed, one of the best things you can do for yourself when you're feeling bad is laugh!
All you have to do is tune into a comedy station on Pandora, check out a highly rated stand-up act on Netflix, or look up some super random memes, or funny videos on YouTube. I do this all the time, especially when I'm irritated and tense about something I have no control over like terrorism, natural disasters, local crimes, etc. I look up funny memes and no matter how bad I feel, if I come across something that strikes my funny bone just right, I'll find myself bursting out in laughter and looking for more. A good old laugh marathon will not only make you feel better mentally and physically, it can help keep you distracted from your problems and give you a much needed break from what's bothering you. Check out this article for more information about the benefits of laughing during anxiety and depression: Help For Depression: Laugh To Activate Happy Feelings!