Being cooped up indoors is a small price to pay to help defeat the alarming spread of coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. With schools and workplaces closed temporarily, it’s affected the way we live every day. So much has changed in such a very short time.

If your emotions sometimes get out of control, remember that it’s not your fault.

Our emotions get out of whack as they’ve been festering away, and we haven’t had an effective outlet.

We’ve been taught we can’t express our emotions, anger, sadness, grief – we’re told to suck it up. No one taught us how to express our emotions in healthy ways.

But don’t worry, it’s natural to feel your emotions flowing in. It’s a normal reaction to feel the need for safety, certainty, predictability, and control.

So why oh why, do we feel so much?

Our emotions and the role that they play…

Emotions are messengers from the internal world.

We’re humans and emotions help us to survive. Emotions help us communicate and interact with people and react in situations of danger.

They were designed that way. They are here to help you survive and thrive.

When you pay attention to them and keep them clear, you have way more time and energy for the things that are important to you.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the basic types of emotions and explore the impact they have on human behavior.

Anger

Anger usually happens when you experience injustice. This experience can make you feel threatened, trapped, and unable to defend yourself. 

Many people think of anger as a negative thing, but it’s a normal emotion that can help you know when a situation has become toxic. It can be constructive in helping clarify your needs in a relationship, and it can also motivate you to take action and find solutions to things that are bothering you.

Anger can become a problem; however, when it is excessive or expressed in ways that are unhealthy, dangerous, or harmful to others. Uncontrolled anger can quickly turn to aggression, abuse, or violence.

Fear

Fear helps us stay safe, but when it’s not healthy, it paralyses us. It is a powerful emotion that can play an important role in survival. When you face danger and experience fear, you go through what is known as the fight or flight response. Your muscles become tense, your heart rate and respiration increase, and your mind become more alert, priming your body to either run from the danger or stand and fight.4 This response helps ensure that you are prepared to deal with threats in your environment effectively.

Happiness

Of all the different types of emotions, happiness is the one that people strive for the most. It is often defined as a pleasant emotional state that is characterized by feelings of contentment, joy, gratification, satisfaction, and well-being.

Happiness drives you to find more of whatever is generating that “good” feeling.

Its main message is: “let’s find more of that!”

Sadness

Sadness means something needs to be released. Sadness is a live emotion that can serve to remind us of what matters to us, what gives our life meaning.

Feeling sad does not mean you have depression. But if your mood starts to interrupt your life and how you function, then you may have become depressed. 

Key differences between sadness and clinical depression related to the cause of the change in mood and how long you have felt that way. 

If your mood relates to a recent event, such as a relationship breakup, then you may well be feeling sadness. But if that breakup was months ago, or you can see no apparent reason for your change in mood, you could be depressed, and it might be helpful for you to chat to your GP about what’s causing you to feel the way you do.

Grief

Grieving is a normal process. It comes out of anguish when someone has died or when some loss has taken place. Some of us grieve for the loss of a valued person and may question whether we did enough to help or rescue the person who died.

Grief helps us to let go. It’s like breathing: if we held our breath every time there would be no exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, so it’s important we let go in in all ways as this is what keeps us alive.

Putting it all together…

Emotions serve a purpose, even when they’re negative. Instead of trying to change the emotions you experience, consider how you react to them. It’s usually the reactions that create challenges, not the emotions themselves.

If you, your partner or someone you know needs help with anything I mentioned above to help reconnect your relationships and your family, please reach out to me at erena@erenaoliver.com