Coping Methods

How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way

How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way | Hopeful Panda

When you’ve been through abuse or some form of trauma in your life, especially during childhood, you likely have trouble knowing how to deal with your emotions in a healthy way. You might’ve been conditioned to ignore, avoid, deny, minimize, dismiss, or think of your emotions as a burden.

However, to truly heal and be able to live a healthy and happy life, you must learn how to manage your emotions appropriately.

As someone who used to and still is struggling with managing my emotions, I know how much it can affect my quality of life and well-being. But with practice, I’ve slowly started to improve. And because of that, my mental health and life, in general, have started improving as well.

So I decided to write a guide for those of you, like me, who also struggle with managing your feelings.

I hope this guide can provide you with some insight into your emotional world as well as teach you how to deal with your emotions in a healthy way.

Why Is It Important to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way?

The ability to experience and express emotions is crucial. It’s what makes us human.

Emotions play a significant role in your reactions or responses to any situation – positive or negative. When you’re able to deal with your emotions in a healthy way, you gain access to a lot of benefits.

Being able to appropriately manage and express your emotions allow you to form more meaningful relationships. It also allows you to become more objective about your emotions and the situations you’re in.

You’ll be able to step back, observe, and process what’s happening, what you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking. It also helps you learn more about yourself and the world around you, giving you more understanding and control of yourself and your life.

On the other hand, emotions that regularly get out of hand can cause relationship and interpersonal problems, trouble at work or school, an urge to use unhealthy coping mechanisms, and physical or emotional outbursts.

So now, I want you to take a moment to think about how your emotions might be affecting your day-to-day life.

Thinking about this can help you better identify any possible problems or disturbances your emotions might be causing in your life. It also makes it easier to notice later on whether you’ve improved at dealing with your emotions.

How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way

Whenever you’re feeling any emotions too intensely, before you act on those emotions, pause and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I feeling?
  2. What caused these feelings?
  3. What do I want to do about these feelings?
  4. Is there another way I can view the situation?
  5. How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?

These questions help walk you through the problem-solving process.

First, you identify the problem and what caused it. Next, you think about ways you can approach the problem. Finally, you can try to look at the problem from a different perspective to find appropriate and reasonable solutions for that problem.

Let’s dive a little more into each question. Or you can also see each one as a step in this process.

1. What am I feeling?

Asking yourself “what am I feeling?” helps you identify your feelings. After identifying your emotions, you must also accept them.

Being able to give labels to your emotions and accept them as is helps you better understand and control those emotions.


Learning how to identify your emotions is the first step you need to take to be able to deal with those emotions in a healthy way.

When your emotions seem to be taking over, the first thing you should do is try to identify what it is that you’re feeling so intensely.

Feel free to download the Simple Feelings Worksheet found on the Freebies page to help you with this step.

It’s important to realize that feelings aren’t mutually exclusive; it’s normal to feel more than one thing at a time. It’s possible to feel both pleasant and unpleasant emotions simultaneously.

For example, you can feel fear or nervous about your first day at work, but you might also feel hopeful, confident, and excited about it at the same time.

Remember, emotions are complex, just like the situations you’re in. That’s why it can be so hard to get control of them and manage them appropriately sometimes. But it’s up to you to figure out what and why you’re feeling the way you do.

Try not to ignore, deny, or dismiss any of your emotions. Try not to become reactive to them. Instead, notice them and try to put a label on them.

As you go through your feelings one by one, ask yourself:

  • What are all the emotions I’m feeling right now?
  • Which emotion is the overpowering one?
  • Why is it important for me to control this overpowering emotion? What would happen if I don’t?


Acceptance is essential in your healing journey.

Emotions aren’t something you can turn on or off like a switch. It’s something that’s always there, that’ll come and go as they please whether we like it or not.

When you’re feeling a certain way, even if you think it’s inappropriate or an overreaction, refrain from telling yourself not to feel that way. Even if it might not seem like a big deal to other people, it was a big deal to you.

Telling yourself not to feel a certain way or to feel differently invalidates your experiences.

Accepting your emotions when they arise teaches you to be more comfortable with them. It helps you cope as well as decrease its intensity. This eventually allows you to feel them without reacting unhealthily or intensely.

How to Accept Emotions

Try to think of your emotions objectively, as in, try not to think of them as “bad”, “good”, “positive”, or “negative”. Instead, see them as neutral. They might be unpleasant or pleasant to feel, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you need to view them objectively so you can better understand them.

Emotions serve as feedback on what’s happening around you. They provide information to help you understand a situation and what changes you need to make. And it’s up to you to understand so you can use it as a way to better your health and your life.

You don’t necessarily have to feel comfortable with your emotions, but you shouldn’t fear them and try to avoid them.

Avoiding or pushing away what you’re feeling is actually counterproductive; it causes the feeling to persist even more. Those ignored feelings will end up manifesting in harmful ways that you might not be aware of.

So try to notice how your thought patterns work and how you can adjust them so you can learn to sit with your emotions. Instead of telling yourself, you shouldn’t feel this way, listen to what it’s trying to tell you.

The more you practice sitting with your feelings, the easier it will become, and the better you will be at managing them.

Benefits of Accepting Your Emotions

According to research, there are psychological health benefits to accepting negative emotions and thoughts without judging them. It may lead to greater life satisfaction and fewer mental health symptoms.

In addition, research also suggests that perceiving your emotions as helpful may actually lead to higher levels of happiness and social support. Whereas, viewing emotions as an obstacle was associated with emotion suppression and less social support.

2. What caused these feelings?

After you’re able to identify and accept your emotions, the next thing you should do is figure out what caused those feelings.

Whatever caused your feelings is considered an emotional trigger, anything that puts you in an unpleasant emotional state.

Knowing how to identify your triggers help you better recognize and prepare yourself for those triggers in the future. It may also improve your emotional intelligence and make it possible to come up with ways to manage your feelings more productively.

And while it’s important to identify triggers for unpleasant feelings, it’s also important to identify the causes of your positive ones.

Being able to recognize what makes you feel good can help you notice and actively incorporate more of those feel-good “triggers” into your life.

3. What do I want to do about these feelings?

When you have certain feelings, you might feel compelled to behave a certain way or say certain things. For example, if you’re angry, you might be tempted to curse and yell at the person who made you angry. You might even want to physically hurt them.

It’s normal to think about saying or doing something as a result of how you’re feeling. But just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

You might be tempted to go through maladaptive or harmful ways as a way to deal with those emotions. But you must take a step back to process everything before reacting impulsively, denying, or pushing away what you’re feeling.

Once again, ask yourself: Why is it important for me to control this overpowering emotion? What would happen if I don’t?

Think about all the negative consequences reacting impulsively or suppressing your emotions can cause and have caused. Remind yourself why you need to maintain control over your emotions and express them appropriately.


Healthy emotional expression involves finding some balance between overwhelming emotions and no emotions at all.

Expressing emotions doesn’t mean you have to lash out at the world and constantly complain about how awful life is. It doesn’t mean you have to scream and wail to let everyone know just how distressed you are.

To express your emotions appropriately, you need to verbalize them and learn healthy coping methods.

Getting things off your chest may feel more difficult than pretending everything’s fine. But in the end, pretending nothing’s wrong is actually more distressing and difficult in the long run.

However, although it’s important to manage and work through your feelings, you don’t need to act on everything you feel. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply sit with how you’re feeling and give yourself time and space to process it. And I repeat, process it, not pretend that you did but actually didn’t.

Why you shouldn’t suppress your emotions

When you suppress or repress your emotions, you’re preventing yourself from experiencing and expressing what you truly feel. When this is happening consciously, it’s known as suppression. And when it’s happening unconsciously, it’s known as repression.

Suppressing your emotions can contribute to mental and physical health issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle tension, body aches, difficulty with stress management, and substance misuse.

When you continue to avoid dealing with your emotions, your needs continue to go unmet.

You may “self-medicate” with food, drugs, sex, or alcohol. Or you may end up making the overwhelming emotion(s) a part of your identity.

Basically, pretending your emotions doesn’t exist or aren’t real will only lead to more issues in the long run. It’s like you’re sweeping crumbs under the couch so you don’t have to deal with them.

But just because you don’t “see” it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Eventually, those crumbs will attract all kinds of pests, creating a bunch of issues that you might not be aware of until it’s too late. Wouldn’t it have been easier to properly deal with those crumbs in the first place?

Know when to express yourself

While it’s important to express yourself, there is a time and place for everything. While there are reasons to cry, sob, scream, and wail, it’s important to still practice some restraint if you’re not in a private space.

Try to think twice and process what you’re feeling when you feel it and try not to be too impulsive to react to your emotions.

Try to be mindful of your surroundings and the situation you’re in. And try to assess whether it’s appropriate to let your feelings out or just to sit with them for a moment.

During inconvenient times, it might be helpful to give yourself some space – physically or mentally.

You can excuse yourself from the situation and find somewhere you can be alone or with someone you trust to express your feelings. Or you can do something to distract yourself until you’re in a better place to deal with them.

While you shouldn’t repress or suppress your emotions, it’s not harmful to give yourself some space before you can deal with them. Just be sure that you DO come back to them.

Healthy distractions and space should only be temporary. Always find time to deal with your feelings.

4. Is there another way I can view the situation?

When a situation makes you feel what you might consider a “negative” emotion, you can try to change how you see it.

If you’re angry at someone for being rude, instead of seeing them as a rude person, maybe you can think about it differently. For instance, maybe they’re acting that way because they had a bad day.

Changing how you interpret this situation doesn’t mean you’re condoning their rude behavior or accepting how they’re treating you. Instead, it can help you take it less personally which might help you feel less angry as a result.

By considering possible alternatives to your initial reactions and responses to your emotions, you’re reframing your thoughts. This helps you change your initial extreme reaction into something healthier and more appropriate.

It might be tough and it might take time, but continue to practice this until it becomes a habit.

However, it’s important to remember that your feelings are valid. The whole purpose of reframing isn’t to invalidate your experiences or feelings. It’s to help you look at something from a different perspective so you can perhaps feel differently about it. In the end, this step is meant to help you.

5. How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?

Try to avoid going to harmful, self-destructing lengths to avoid feeling your feelings. Instead, listen to what they’re trying to tell you and understand where the emotion came from. Then, try to establish some healthy methods for coping with those emotions.

There are various ways to express your emotions and cope with them healthily. Explore different healthy coping skills to find ones that work for you.

Once your emotions feel less intense after utilizing a healthy method to cope, you can approach and try to resolve your situation without letting your emotions run your behavior.

How to Deal with Your Emotions in a Healthy Way: Putting it Into Practice

How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way | Hopeful Panda

This section contains a few examples of putting the five questions or steps into practice.

Example 1

What am I feeling?
I am feeling angry, frustrated, upset, disappointed, and annoyed.

What caused these feelings?
My boyfriend is pressuring me to go out when I don't feel like it.

What do I want to do about these feelings?
I want to cry and yell at him for making me feel like that.

Is there another way I can view the situation?
Maybe my boyfriend wants me to go out because I've been sort of down lately and haven't gone outside for over a week. He's probably worried about me.

How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?
I can go for a run or write in a journal to calm down. Then, I should have a conversation with him so we can address our feelings and concerns.

Example 2

What am I feeling?
I am feeling sad, upset, overwhelmed, and depressed.

What caused these feelings?
I didn't get accepted into my dream school after all the effort I put in.

What do I want to do about these feelings?
I want to call the school and yell at them for their awful decision. I want to give up on trying to work hard anymore because what's the point?

Is there another way I can view the situation?
It sucks but it's their loss. Maybe there's a better school for me out there somewhere.

How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?
I can cry when I'm alone or vent to someone I trust. Then, I have to learn to move past it and look into other schools. I need to accept that rejection is a part of life and that I shouldn't give up every time I get rejected.

Example 3

What am I feeling?
I am feeling nervous, anxious, scared, and worried.

What caused these feelings?
I have to deliver a speech tomorrow in front of a huge audience. I'm going to mess up and humiliate myself.

What do I want to do about these feelings?
I want to avoid the speech at all costs. 

Is there another way I can view the situation?
This is actually an amazing opportunity. Besides, missing the speech would look much worse than making a mistake.

How can I cope with these emotions in a healthy way?
I can practice deep breathing to calm my nerves. Then, I need to continue to practice my speech so I can be confident that I'll nail it.


Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, try to take a step back and ask yourself the five questions. And take all the time you need as you go through them. It’ll get easier as you continue to utilize it.

Being able to identify, accept, manage, express, and cope with your emotions appropriately can lead to many beneficial changes in your life. You will feel more in control of your emotions, yourself, and your life.

But once again, emotions are complex. It’s tough to get control of them, especially when a lot of them could be unconscious and were conditioned into you early on. However, with some practice, patience, and hope, you can properly and healthily deal with your emotions.

About Author

Hi there, I’m Estee.

Having been raised by an abusive mother, I developed an interest in mental health to better learn, understand, and manage the effects the abuse had on me. My experiences inspired me to create Hopeful Panda.

In my free time, you’ll find me cooking, organizing, playing video games, writing, or spending time with my family. You can read more about me and my blog here.

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