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Everyone experiences difficult emotions at some time, and for some people these can be particularly intense and difficult to manage. It is important to address these emotions and deal with their causes, however it is also important that we develop practical strategies to manage them so they do not overwhelm us.

Below are some strategies others have found helpful in managing different emotions.

To express intense emotions or pain:

  • Paint, draw or scribble on a big piece of paper with ink or paint
  • Express you feelings in a journal
  • Compose a poem or song to express how you are feeling
  • Write down any negative feelings and then rip the paper up
  • Listen to music that expresses what you're feeling
  • Put rubber bands on wrists, arms, or leg and snap them
  • Rub ice across your skin

To calm and sooth yourself

  • Take a bath or hot shower
  • Pat or cuddle with your dog or cat
  • Wrap yourself in a warm blanket
  • Massage you neck, hands and feet
  • Listen to calming music
  • Try other self-soothing activities

If you feel disconnected and numb

  • Call a friend
  • Take a cold shower
  • Hold an icecube in the crook of your arm or leg
  • Chew somthing with a very strong taste, like chilli peppers, peppermint or a grapefruit peel
  • Go online to a self help website, chat room or message board

To release tension or vent anger

  • Exercise vigorously - run, dance, jump rope, or hit a punching bag
  • Punch a cushion or mattress or scream into your pillow
  • Squeeze a stress ball or squish Play-Doh or clay
  • Rip something up (sheets of paper, a magazine)
  • Make some noise (play an instrument, bang on pots and pans)


 The Mental Health Foundation UK, 2012

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