Sometimes emotions can become way too much for you to manage.  In such cases, you may use coping strategies.  A coping strategy is a specific way of dealing with an uncomfortable or unbearable feeling or situation in your life.  Coping strategies are very helpful when they improve a situation or allow a person to manage a stressful situation in a better way.  Coping strategies are harmful especially when they end up aggravating the situation or making the situation worse, which results in a person less able to handle the problematic situation.

Helpful Ways of Coping:  Try and think back to the last time you experienced a strong, uncontrollable emotion.  How did you react?  Internally, you may have used a common defense mechanism, such as rationalization, to make the situation easier to accept, in your point of view.  But how did you react outwardly during the situation?  Often, people react in a variety of different ways to try and control their own strong feelings.  Some of the commonly used helpful ways of coping with your emotions and stress are listed below.  What are some other helpful coping strategies that have worked for you in the past?  If you can remember, try to utilize those as well.

  • Confront the situation head-on.  If it is possible, try and take action to improve the situation you are stuck in. 
  • Release your pent-up energy positively by exercising in the gym, cleaning your room, or being active in some other way that does not adversely affect others.
  • Calm yourself down by taking a short break by reading a book, listening to some classical music, taking a walk in the park, writing in your journal, doing your homework, or otherwise just relax.
  • Talk about your feelings with a trusted family member, close friend, a reliable counselor, or a different trusted person.  Sometimes, just talking about your feelings will help you see many things more clearly, perhaps even the opposing side's point of view on the subject.

Harmful Ways of Coping:  People may respond in unhealthy ways to their intense emotions.  They may use coping strategies that make their problems worse instead of making it easier to manage.  Using alcohol or other drugs to "forget about it" is a common and horrible example of a harmful coping strategy used by some.  Others end up withdrawing from their family and friends.

Learning to express your pent-up emotions in positive ways is not at all an easy skill to master but nor is it an impossible goal for you to set for yourself.  Most people need help dealing with their emotions from time to time.  If you find that you often resort to some potentially harmful coping strategies, it may be about the right time to ask for some help.