9 Ways to Cope with Emotional Pain (without Food, Alcohol or Shopping)
You find yourself suffering emotionally and looking for anything to help ease the emotional pain. What can you do? Perhaps you could turn to alcohol to numb the pain. Or you might use food to cope and over time start binging. You might decide to buy something new to distract yourself. Shopping, food, and alcohol aren’t a problem on their own in moderation, but when any of them become your primary coping strategy it can lead to more stress than relief.
What are some better options to cope with emotional pain?
Nine Ways to Cope with Emotional Pain
1. Find a New Hobby
Pick up a new hobby, something that you’ve always wanted to try or maybe something that you already know you love but haven’t made the time for. Love to read books? Borrow a book from the local library or purchase one on your tablet and start reading! Do you enjoy looking at other people’s scrapbooks? Start one of your own! Create a vision board and paste images of everything that speaks to you. Use this to help you identify your interests and passions.
2. Move Your Body
While suffering from emotional pain you may not even want to get out of bed. Unfortunately, this can contribute to greater heaviness and depression. Instead, go for a short walk around the block. Do a short beginner yoga video online (doyogawithme.com is one to try). Dance to uplifting music in your living room. Any type of physical movement can help you release the pain from your body. It feels counter-intuitive, you don’t have the energy to move, so how can moving help? Yet, moving when you’re feeling down can give you energy and lift your spirits.
3. Don’t Ruminate
Don’t torture yourself by fixating on what caused the pain you’re suffering from. What has happened has already been done and cannot be undone. Going over it again and again in your mind will only make things worse for you. If you need to, ask yourself, what can you do now? What control do you have over the situation? Watch out for shaming and blaming yourself as well. If nothing can be done, your only and best choice is to simply to accept what is and allow yourself to feel what you feel. It can be helpful to process your feelings with a friend, therapist or even write them out in a journal. When you access your feelings it can help you shut off your mind.
4. Stop Telling the Story
You may think that you’re no longer worrying about what caused the pain, but as soon as there is an open ear willing to listen, you find yourself retelling the story. At first this can help, but at some point you have to stop telling the story as you’re just opening up the wound again. Rather, focus on where you are now. What have you overcome? What resources have you used to get past the pain? Rather than venting, sink deeper into your most primary feelings about the situation and allow yourself to really experience them. Sometimes, we get caught up in our secondary emotions around pain such as anger or anxiety, while blocking our most primary and important feelings, such as hurt or sadness. Sometimes, while counter-intuitive, you can experience relief when allowing your most primary and painful emotions to express themselves.
5. Start Keeping a Journal
Did something good happen to you today? Write it in your journal along with a comment about how you’ll overcome this. Something like, “I feel like I will have trouble trusting again. However, I know that one person out of the millions that surround me every day caused this. There will be others worthy of my trust. This one person wasn’t deserving of my trust, anyway.”
Have you been fighting back the tears? Don’t. Let them go. Crying has health benefits such as releasing toxins from your body and relieving stress. Meanwhile, bottling up such emotions can only poison your body and mind. If you find it difficult to cry, try watching a movie that has similar themes to the pain you’re in.
7. Open Yourself to Others, Let Them In
Does it hurt you to see your loved ones suffering? The same goes for your loved ones when they see you suffering. Don’t lock yourself up in your room and avoid others. Let them in, it benefits both them and you. Humans are social creatures, isolating yourself ends up exacerbating your pain. Connection is the antidote.
8. Make a List of What You’re Thankful For
Write down everything that is good and positive. Are you thankful for your loving mother? Your supportive father? Even something like having a roof over your head counts. Write it all down and reflect upon it. Practicing gratitude can give you perspective. The point is not to disregard negative emotions. It’s important to allow yourself to feel and experience those as well. Rather, the point is to also recognize the good. Sometimes, we can get caught up focusing on what’s “wrong” and lose sight of all the “what’s right.”
A nice individual or family ritual to try is to keep a gratitude jar. At the end of the day each person writes one thing they’re grateful for a slip of paper and places it into the jar. At the end of the month/year you can open and read them together or whenever you need to remember the good things.
9. See a Professional
Sometimes a Houston therapist is needed to help when the emotional pain is just too much and you can’t get a grasp on it. There is nothing wrong with this, sometimes these painful events in life are just too much to expect a person to bear. If you’ve experienced trauma, painful events can be experienced in your body as scary and overwhelming. You may need to learn self-soothing and containment skills first.
Contact a Therapist in Houston
If you’d like to get help with compulsive behaviors such as binge eating or learn how to cope with emotional pain whether due to trauma, anxiety or depression, contact us. You can reach us at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.. We look forward to hearing your story and helping you find ways to soothe your pain.
Learn How to Make Peace with Food
If you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry to soothe, comfort, or distract from pain, we have a program for you! Our make peace with food program can help you learn how to cope, reconnect with your body and yourself and find ways to meet with your needs without using food. Click here to find out more about the program.
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