Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 453008

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Containing emotion

Posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

In my session this week, my T and I talked a lot about my emotional sensitivity. I go back and forth about this, because I think it's both a blessing and a curse. A blessing of course because it is a strength for doing therapy, imo...but also a curse because intense emotion is exhausting!

So, I wonder if y'all might share how you put yourself back together after intense emotion. What do you do to recharge? Or discharge the effects of the emotion? How do you self-soothe?

I hope to create a list of strategies so that I have a large tool kit for helping myself recover. Somedays, although I absolutely enjoy what I am doing, I just feel so wiped out. Would you please help me figure out how to go into "emotional strength training?"

Thanks in advance to all my coaches!

gg

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by sunny10 on February 4, 2005, at 9:33:06

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

I know this is going to sound really trite, but I do different things depending on the weather...

First and favorite is to just put my sneakers on, drive down to the nearest state park (preferable one with a creek, riverbed, some water) and just watch the woodland creatures go about their day. I ask myself what would stress them out. When the realization comes that only fear of death stresses them out (starvation or predators), I put things into perspective by asking myself if the things (never just one, I'm afraid, smile) will lead to the death of myself or my son. I come to realize that they won't; because there are always options.

On a rainy day (okay, honesty; or cold day), I get lost in fiction. Real fiction; not biographies, et cetera, but real life, "calgon take me away" fiction (and, yes, the accompanying bath helps tremendously).

Now, obviously, I am ignoring the feelings on bad weather days (probably why I seem to suffer from SAD!), but I try to do my nice weather activity even when I'm not stressing in order to "balance" things in my mind.

Seeing "life" as Mother Nature intended always centers me...

Put these on your list- they do help...

sunny10

 

Sleep (nm) gardenergirl

Posted by Dinah on February 4, 2005, at 10:20:37

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by Daisym on February 4, 2005, at 11:02:30

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

GG -- I want to respond to this both ways --

As a professional, when we have really emotional days (a baby dies), we use pretty standard debriefing techniques - everyone shares, stories are told, etc. etc. Group resilency stuff. For my individual stress (like when I had to lay someone off and she cried and cried) I usually shut myself away and give myself 5 minutes to breathe and/or cry too. I also usually try to write out what happened as soon as I can. Putting it on paper for me helps dissipate the emotions as I organize the events.

As a client, really emotional sessions need chocolate or starbucks or both. I've found myself wanting to sleep afterwards lately, and I can't as I usually go back to work. Debriefing after really intense ones works the best (poor Falls), I think because it is a combination of getting it out and organizing it so someone else can understand. This reflecting allows me to understand the emotions better too. If I can't find my Babble buddies, I journal.

The other night I had a complete melt down a few hours after a really intense session. My therapist encouraged me to "go soft around it" and just let myself cry. He said, "don't try to understand your tears, don't try to stop them, don't look for what's next, just give in to them." This is hard for me, as crying wasn't allowed for me growing up, but giving myself permission to "just" cry was amazing.

Lastly - sessions that produce anxiety instead of sadness are the hardest for me to deal with. This is when I clean stuff - my office, my house, the refrig, etc. Accounting works too. Focusing on those numbers, which have to make sense, there aren't two possible answers, is very calming. Weird, I know. Losing myself in a book works for anxiety too.

I think I've used all of the above this week...

 

Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl

Posted by Shortelise on February 4, 2005, at 11:50:36

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

I cry. But when I cry I try not to add emotional fuel to whatever fire I am trying to cry out. That's important.

I walk.

I consciously try not to repeat old bad habits that make things fester instead of dissipate.

I try to be aware of what I am feeling, where I am feeling it in my body, and why I am feeling it. I try to be clear about what it is, not let it be a mystery that has power over me.

Now, if I could only succeed at what I try to do!

ShortE

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by Augustina on February 4, 2005, at 12:06:13

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

Hi GG--

I've never "talked" to you on these posts before but I've truly enjoyed reading about your insights, thoughts, experiences...feels like i learn a lot from you and many others here.

Anyways, I believe in the power of deep breathing; i'm currently taking an acting class (to help me overcome some shyness issues) and we always warm up with some simple yoga stretches and breathing exercises. I used to think this was a waste of time but during class last night I felt so much more relaxed and grounded. The key is to inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. You may want to practice this several times and see how you feel.

Other things I've found helpful:
-Writing in my journal--this is a definite must for me especially just before my session w/my T and afterwards
-Physical exercise (i run)
-Shopping (whether or not i buy anything is not important...window shopping will usually do the trick too!)
-Bubble baths
-Massages
And if none of the above seem to still not be of any help, i'll take a little nap.

Hope this helps and take good care!
A.

 

Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl

Posted by pegasus on February 4, 2005, at 13:34:31

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

Great topic. I've enjoyed reading how others handle this. My top 5 emotion containing tips are:

1. If things are *really* bad, I go home and crawl in bed. I may or may not sleep. But somehow being under the covers all curled up, thinking about things from that safe place, seems to help me a lot when things are very bad. But one key is that I have to give myself permission to do it, so I don't feel guilty. It used to freak out my husband, but now he recognizes it as a relatively healthy way of coping with big bad stuff, and he refers to it as hibernating.

2. I meditate when I'm starting to feel uncomfortable emotions, but not if I've already gotten to the point of overwhelm. I find that just sitting are noticing and accepting my feelings without getting really hooked in by the stories that go with them can really help me let go. Sometimes it takes a while to wind it down, though. I especially find a technique called tonglen helpful. You might want to check it out.

3. I write it all out. I can spend hours writing and rewriting about what I'm feeling. The process of trying to get it just right seems to help a lot. And this has the added benefit of being something I can show my husband or therapist later, if it seems important to communicate about it.

4. Let myself have a treat. For me it's usually a latte and a cinnamon roll. I think they're special because I don't get either at home, and they both seem really comforting to me. The other ingredient to this that seems to be important is the fact that I'm acknowledging my own hard time, and showing myself that I deserve special comforting measures.

5. Sing along really loud in the car to some music that I like. This isn't always available, but when it is, I think it helps a lot. Especially if I can find a song that synchs well with my emotions.

Good luck, and please let us know what other tips you might come up with during your searching. I'm also relatively emotionally sensistive, and always looking for *healthy* ways to handle it.

pegasus

 

This is making me feel better about sleeping

Posted by Dinah on February 4, 2005, at 13:43:57

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

It doesn't seem like such an unusual thing.

A good fifteen minute nap is sometimes enough to get me up and working. It makes for a choppy life since I generally forget to some degree what happened before it. Sometimes completely forget, more often just make it feel like it happened a long time ago on a planet far far away. Emotionally forget.

But still it has a good ratio of return, at least when the shorter naps are enough.

BTW, I once exasperatedly told my therapist that it would probably be useful for him to have some of my emotional sensitivity (because talking to him used to occasionally be like talking to Dr. Bob), and he answered that if he had any significant degree of my emotional sensitivity, he wouldn't be able to be a therapist at all.

I thought that was an interesting statement. It helped me understand him and his protective boundaries a bit better.

 

Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl

Posted by rainbowbrite on February 4, 2005, at 15:08:16

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

I suspect I often don't come accross the right way when I post but ill give it a shot....I hope I don't sound flippant or anything.

I can't say I am the poster child of success in this area but I am a very silly person who is on top of that VERY emotional, as well as, I supose aloof. So what I do when I am overwhlemed with emotion is try to LAugh. and I mean really laugh. It actually not even that hard to find things to laugh at. so like turn on a funny show, or call a friend who cracks you up.
I sware by laughing and little substance! The more fluff you expose yourself to when you are feeling intese emotions the better 'I' feel. Im definately not perfect at it but it works when i do it. Next time you feel like that try to go and see a REALLY funny movie. One last thiing, try not to let your head have any serious time, so keep talking about dumb stuff to who ever you are with. I hope this makes sense :-)

RAin

 

Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl

Posted by fallsfall on February 4, 2005, at 18:56:58

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

Ice cream.

My therapist's office is next to a river. I sit on the walkway next to the river swinging my feet and watching the Herons and Loons and Seagulls and turtles and tadpoles and water. Like someone else mentioned, it helps to think about what those creatures are thinking about. How do they decide to go here or there? Are they bored if they are just sitting on a rock? Is the tide coming in or out? Nature is good - their issues are so different from mine, but they get along just fine without worrying about my problems...

Swing on swings. Sometimes I pump really high - to either discharge energy/emotion or to feel free. Lots of times I just barely swing. Letting my feet dangle is good.

I sit in my therapist's bathroom, on the floor in the dark. I probably dissociate often when I'm doing this. I have no idea what I think about at these times. I cry for a long time. I sit in the bathroom because I can't face the world and need to be contained.

I don't talk to people. I don't answer the phone, I sign on Messenger invisibly. I go to my room if my daughter is home, or just make it really clear that she wants to leave me alone.

I play computer games - they are orderly and it doesn't matter if I completely mess up. It keeps me occupied.

Talk to people. Sometimes it takes a while before I'm ready to do this.

Sit with my dogs. They are comfort.

Don't expect anything of myself. That way I don't disappoint myself.

Play solitaire with real cards. Shuffling is therapeutic. Again, it is orderly busywork that doesn't matter if it is done right.

Are you asking more about for when you have therapy, or when you are the therapist, or just in general?

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by Annierose on February 4, 2005, at 21:32:48

In reply to Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 4, 2005, at 8:15:31

Besides all the wonderful ideas posted, my only other thought, is sometimes, maybe we shouldn't consider containing these emotions, instead, allowing them an alternative outlet ... until the next therapy session. I do like to talk out a session sometimes to myself (silently of course, while taking a walk) or talking with a kind friend. And my favorite, immediately afterwards, listening to loud music in my car. And if I'm headed for home vs. work, dancing (while no one can see me).

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by gardenergirl on February 5, 2005, at 7:37:51

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by Annierose on February 4, 2005, at 21:32:48

Great ideas, all. I have some thoughts, but I have to go out of town today. I'll post more later!

Thanks,
gg

 

Re: Containing emotion

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:18:09

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by sunny10 on February 4, 2005, at 9:33:06

Thanks for your suggestions. I've noticed others have also mentioned getting into nature. You are so right. One thing I do is to look up at the star when I am out with my dog before bedtime. Only problem is, I get dizzy if I put my head too far back. And the driveway has been icy. So you are right about needing the weather to behave!

Oh and I used to devour fiction. I kind of got to the point when I was reading so much for school I just couldn't read anymore. Happy to say now that classes are done, I'm back to reading fiction again. I was craving it.


Thanks again for the great suggestions!

gg

 

Re: This is making me feel better about sleeping

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:20:44

In reply to This is making me feel better about sleeping, posted by Dinah on February 4, 2005, at 13:43:57

Yes, I love love love to sleep. I was very cranky last week when I couldn't take my usual post-therapy nap. I should get a couch for my office someday, although I admit one late afternoon I did stretch out on the rug for a quick nap. It's a wool rug though...tickled my nose. :)

Sounds like your T is very aware of self-protection. Every once in awhile I wish I could benefit from an SSRI and also get that emotional dulling. But then I realize what a loss that would be.

Thanks for validating MY sleep needs!

gg

 

Re: Containing emotion Daisym

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:24:02

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by Daisym on February 4, 2005, at 11:02:30

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Especially the different techniques depending on the emotion. I have to admit, the chocolate and Starbucks come in handy. I'm so happy about the one close to me now. woo hoo!

I've never been one to journal. I do benefit from debriefing. Where I am now is different from last year in that there are not always others around to talk to. And we are all always behind on paperwork, so debriefing often feels like an intrusion on someone's time. :(

So maybe I'll try writing some of it down or at least getting the emotions down somewhere. Hmm, maybe I'll hide some crayons in the office. :)

thanks again,
gg

 

whoops, three up for sunny10 (nm)

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:24:50

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:18:09

 

Re: Containing emotion Shortelise

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:26:39

In reply to Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl, posted by Shortelise on February 4, 2005, at 11:50:36

You sound like my T! He talked about trying to step back a bit to observe the emotion and to use it as information, especially during therapy sessions, but also the rest of the time.

And I really need to walk more. I used to complain about how far the parking garage was from my office, but it feels kinda good if I'm not loaded down with stuff and when the air is cool and crisp.

Why is it that the things we know are helpful can be the hardest habits to maintain?

gg

 

Re: Containing emotion Augustina

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:28:04

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by Augustina on February 4, 2005, at 12:06:13

Ah, a woman after my own heart. Great self-care suggestions! And you are taking an acting class? I have always wanted to do that! How is it going?

Thanks for your suggestions, and it's great to see you post!

gg

 

Re: Containing emotion pegasus

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:30:17

In reply to Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl, posted by pegasus on February 4, 2005, at 13:34:31

I like your suggestions, especially singing in the car. I do this in the shower a lot, too. Sounds better in there. ;)

And I've temporarily upped my massage schedule to every two weeks until some of this tension goes away. yikes, the expense!

Hope you are feeling well and healthy.

Thanks for all your suggestions,
gg

 

Re: Containing emotion rainbowbrite

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:32:20

In reply to Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl, posted by rainbowbrite on February 4, 2005, at 15:08:16

I don't think you sound flippant at all. I love humor. And actually, at times I rely on dark humor to deal with painful stuff. I think this is a family trait, because the last two funerals from this particular side of the family had at least as much laughter as tears.

I can get goofy, and people who don't know me as well and haven't seen that side of me before often look a bit confused. sigh, oh well.

Humor rules!

Thanks for your input,
gg

 

Re: Containing emotion fallsfall

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:35:19

In reply to Re: Containing emotion gardenergirl, posted by fallsfall on February 4, 2005, at 18:56:58

Wow, thanks for all of your ideas. I admit the sitting on the floor crying image is sad. I hope it is helpful for you when you do that. Although now that I think of it, I've sat in Starbucks parking lot before crying and trying to get it all out and then repair the face damage before going in. Thank goodness for the drive thru one nearby.

I was thinking in general. I just feel that my emotional sensitivity takes a physical and mental toll on me when I am exposed to so much in my life...my own and those of others. I feel like I need to "train" to get stronger...but what I really mean is spend more time on self-care to counter the effects.

Thanks for your ideas.

gg

 

Re: Containing emotion Annierose

Posted by gardenergirl on February 7, 2005, at 22:37:04

In reply to Re: Containing emotion, posted by Annierose on February 4, 2005, at 21:32:48

Do you take after our dear KK? She used to post about dancing in the car...:)

Music is so powerful, isn't it? I forget how good uplifting music can influence my mood. I think I need to prescribe some Jimmy Buffett. :)

Thanks for your suggestions,

gg


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