Feeling emotional? Here's what to do

By Sally Evans

As we continue to face one of the biggest challenges of our lives, I am certain that many will be struggling to maintain even a typical daily routine. We remain distant from family and friends and this can cause difficult and overwhelming emotions.

Whether we are feeling uncertainty, anxious or sad, we will all have different coping mechanisms that will help us get through day. Some of these are helpful and some may well not be! 

Sometimes, we may notice that we might ruminate over our feelings, struggle to sleep or replay difficult conversations we have had at work. We sometimes get into a negative mental loop of overthinking and unhelpful thoughts.

Sometimes, we might bottle up how we feel and try hard to create a sense of normalcy that doesn’t really exist right now. We might even say we ‘shouldn’t be sad’. 

Many of you will know that I promote the power of positivity. But it is important to say that when we push aside normal emotions in order to take part in a false positivity, we may lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. 

Often, I talk about the importance of resilience, but that doesn’t mean being stoic and carrying on despite what our emotions may be telling us.  

Susan David, a writer on Emotional Agility has developed a model that is worth exploring at this time. 

Living with gentle acceptance

Susan encourages ‘gentle acceptance. She claims that it is important not to deny or suppress feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, or grief. This only makes us feel worse. By showing up to a difficult situation and accepting it, we free ourselves to move beyond it. 

Acceptance is the prerequisite for positive change’  Susan David

Stick with routines

Susan also mentions the importance of routine.

Routine is important for us to maintain a sense of order. When we are faced with the unfamiliar, we tend to fill in the gaps with fear. As we are currently away from our normal routines, maybe working from home, home-schooling, and living in close proximity with others, this can feel scary and unprecedented.

So, fill this space with things that are comfortable, familiar, and connected with our values. Healthy routines are essential, specifically those associated with sleep, exercise and eating. Our bodies and minds are so interconnected, and our physical health is reflected in our mental health

Try to stick with your normal routines such as waking up at the time you normally would to commute to work or maintaining your family tradition of Friday movie night. The preservation of these small routines will be comforting.

Continue connecting

It’s important to note that social distancing is really just physical distancing. Connecting with others is so important, now more than ever. Even though you cannot be in someone’s physical presence, you can continue to nurture your relationships, especially if you’re feeling lonely. 

You need that support. 

Also, if safe, make time to hug your child and/or partner often. Put down your phone and laugh with your family, play games, do puzzles. If you live alone, reach out to your loved ones. Try to approach the situation creatively by scheduling Zoom dinner dates or virtual game nights.

Showing courage

Research now shows that the acceptance of all of our emotions, even the difficult ones, helps with our resilience. But showing courage is more than just the acceptance of emotions. 

Our emotional response is important information that tell us something is going on.  

A ‘guilty’ parent might be missing real connection with their child. 

Grief is love looking for a home. 

Now is the time to slow down and reflect on our emotional responses with a little courage, considering whether you could change how you feel, address that emotion and whether the emotion is helpful right now.

Reflection and rethinking

I often wonder if now would be a really good time for reflection and rethinking our future too?

What priorities did you once have that no longer seem important? 

What parts of ‘normal’ do you not want to rush back to? 

Keep a journal and reflect on what you learn about yourself, your emotional responses and how your life may be changing for the better. This emotional information could help guide you as you move forward.


Sally is the Founder of LifeBuddy.

She is an Organisational Development consultant and is a Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology.