Boy am I fickle sometimes.
I can ride the high of feeling happy, even to the point of giddiness, then in one fell swoop, sink to an emotional low, bordering even on feelings of depression.
Some of you know what I mean. If you are a woman, a middle-aged person, someone going through a difficult season, a teenager or pre-teen, dealing with too much non-stop responsibility, or one with a personality-type that tends to easily feel “melancholy”…….well, just about anyone…….you may have experienced this tendency too.
So what do we do when our emotions are taking us on a roller-coaster ride of grand proportions? Here are some practical tips to help in times of emotional instability.
***Please note: If you are struggling beyond what is “normal” or expected in life, or can’t find the strength to even begin to move forward (with true feelings of depression), please visit your doctor or a professional to get the help you need. ***
10 Steps For When Your Emotions are Fickle:
1. Go back to what you know to be true.
Even if you’re not feeling it, you know certain things to be true. These facts can be an anchor for your soul. If you are a Christian, read your Bible and ask God to remind you of his promises. Dwell on good, true, positive thoughts.
2. Practice gratitude.
Focus on the good. Think about, or better yet, record what you are thankful for. I try to consistently write in my “gratitude journal”, which I started after reading Ann VosKamp’s wonderful book, 1000 Gifts. Begin (or continue), a habit of being thankful for the little things, and life will look much better when viewed through a lens of gratitude.
3. Spend some time in peace and quiet.
Find at least a little quiet time. Make some time for yourself with no noise, responsibilities or distractions, even if it’s short or seems impossible. Send yourself to your room, lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes, step outside and breathe, light a candle, take a drive by yourself, go somewhere peaceful and just sit. Take time to listen to your own thoughts. If you pray, be sure to do that, but don’t forget to stop and listen, too.
4. Take care of yourself physically.
Don’t deny the reality of how your physical health affects your emotional state! Get some sleep, take time to relax and rest, drink plenty of water, make healthy eating decisions, and/or get some exercise, and you will immediately begin to feel better emotionally. Take care of medical issues. Check with your doctor and/or do some good research, to decide if you need a little “boost” from supplements or natural remedies that are healthy and rarely have negative side effects.
5. Don’t carry your burdens alone.
We were not created to live as hermits. We were designed to live and thrive in community, and it’s not a weakness to need to depend on others. Communicate with your family and loved ones about how you’re feeling, talk to a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor, and don’t let embarrassment stop you. Sometimes all we need is to someone to listen; other times a little direction or encouragement from others will make the difference in our emotional state.
*Added note: I’d love to add a brief comment here to suggest that not only do relationships help support healthy emotions, but they can even help to make us more successful in life. According to this interesting article, we would do well to lean on others, rather than insist on independently going it alone . *
6. Take a baby step.
Often, our stress and emotional lows are partially based on feeling overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities, or things we have not accomplished. Whether its organization or cleaning in your home, or something you need to get done for work or another important commitment, just take the next right step for now. You don’t need to accomplish everything at once, but even a little step will help to motivate you and move you in the right direction, giving you the strength to take one more the next time. Remember that you “eat an elephant” one bite at a time.
7. Establish boundaries.
I think everyone should read Dr. Henry Cloud’s life-changing book called Boundaries. It’s a topic we all need to understand and embrace, because boundaries are healthy and necessary for everyone! We need to embrace our own responsibilities, but let go of those that are not our own. Whether it is an emotional boundary or a practical one, don’t be afraid to say “no” or set reasonable limits for yourself and others, and learn to communicate them clearly.
8. Listen to some quality music.
This could have been combined with my next and last point, but I decided that it’s effective and important enough to list separately. Music is powerful, and can help encourage us and lift our spirits. Positive lyrics and peaceful or joyful music can help to change our mood and move us towards a better attitude and choices. Listen to this song, “Where I Am Right Now”, as an example of a good, encouraging song for those who find themselves in hard times.
9. Get out!
This also can fall into some other categories, but I think is worth mentioning on it’s own. Nature and the outdoors was created for our pleasure. It is unnatural and unhealthy to stay inside all the time and not get outdoors. We need the fresh air and sun (and a natural dose of vitamin D), as well as just to not feel cooped up indoors for too long. Take a long (or even a short) walk, go on a hike, play with your dog, go for a bike ride, or just sit and breathe in the goodness.
10. Do something fun!
While it is important to take serious steps to make yourself feel better and to address important issues in your life, sometimes a little enjoyment can go a long way towards helping you to feel better. Do something you love, express yourself in creativity, read a good book, work on a hobby, watch an enjoyable television show or movie, play a family board or card game, run around with your kids, jump in a lake, have a good cup or tea or coffee, build a snowman, and/or eat ice-cream! (Yes, I know; I just told you to “make healthy eating choices”, but a little splurge once in awhile is OK and necessary, too.)
It’s amazing how even doing a little of something you really enjoy can completely change your mood. It’s OK to take a break from life’s responsibilities and hardships and enjoy some good, clean fun!
While it’s natural and normal to feel the ups and downs of fluctuating emotions, there are things we can do to help stabilize our feelings. These tips can help us to move forward in positive ways in our lives and give us strength and motivation to deal with more important issues. Here’s to “smoothing out” our fickle emotions!
Do you struggle with the ups and downs of emotions? What do you do to care for yourself when your emotions are lacking? Do you have any tips to add that you have found helpful?