As a youth or young adult, we may be experiencing some changes or transitions in our life. Navigating these experiences is not easy, especially if we are dealing with them for the first time, and we might encounter some stress and anxiety along the way. However, we have the power to manage our emotions and take steps to look after our well-being, to emerge in a stronger and more resilient position to face life's challenges and opportunities.
What are emotions and why do we feel them?
We all experience emotions as a normal and important part of our lives. There are 6 basic emotions, which are universally experienced - anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.
Emotions provide information - they help us know how to respond appropriately to circumstances we're in. All emotions have their functions. Experiencing the full range of emotions adds meaning to our lives by helping us understand what is important to us.
Importance of understanding and managing emotions
Although emotions are an instinctive and natural thing, it can sometimes be intense and overwhelming. That's why we can all benefit from understanding and managing our emotions healthily.
Understanding our emotions allow us to gain insights on our triggers, and on how to respond in constructive ways. Managing our emotions helps with making better decisions. Accepting our emotions allows us to view our thoughts and perspectives objectively.
How do we manage our emotions?
Identify the emotion
Know why we feel the way we do
Manage unhelpful thoughts
Take action and adopt self-care tips
Be mindful to avoid toxic positivity
When managing our emotions, we might unknowingly fall into the mindset of toxic positivity, which refers to an obsession with positive thinking. This is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, neglecting and brushing away emotions like sadness and anger, in a bid to feel “positive and happy” all the time.
Risks of toxic positivity
Risks of toxic positivity include:
• Increased isolation and stigma which discourage us from seeking support
• Increased communication issuse as we don't see a need to solve our relationship problems because we only focus on the positive
• Low self-esteem due to the inability to feel positive - we may feel as though we are failing
How do I talk about my emotions?
Talking to others about our emotions can help us explore new perspectives and understand our thinking patterns. Begin by picking someone to talk to. We can then share how we feel and why.
Know that we can talk about our feelings anytime - we don't have to wait for our problems to be big or have a special time to talk about them. It's good to practise talking about them earlier as it allows us to notice them.