Building Emotional Strength to Move Through Pain and Sadness

When the news is brutal and Americans are suffering, it is normal to feel anxious. We cannot make pain and sadness go away by simply wishing fearful emotions gone. Living through them takes thoughtful action. Finding ways to handle stress will determine how you cope with fear and sorrow. Figuring out what to do next can boost your emotional strength and give you a sense of the future’s possibility. That hope is what we all need right now.

Even when you feel things are out of control, you can develop a strong sense of purpose. Think about what you value and what matters most to you. Let that reflection guide you forward. Develop positive habits that help you handle stress. You can improve your emotional health with these proven practices.

Treat yourself with compassion.

First, create a healthy relationship with your thoughts so that you can boost your emotional immune system. Bringing perspective to your life will help you accept difficult feelings. Mindfully try to recognize judgments you make that are unhelpful and then, without beating yourself up, let them go. Show yourself the same compassion you would show others. We all need grace in our lives right now.

Move away from negative thoughts.

Ask yourself if a negative thought is helpful? Let go of the mental habit of ruminating over and over. Overthinking can put you at risk for depression and additional stress. Let go of making judgments about others. Choose to move toward a more optimistic mindset, and you will feel better.

Recognize your resilience.

Psychiatrists tell us resilience is the most common response to trauma, and we are living in traumatic times. The experts urge those who have suffered to trust in their own resilience. They say believing in recovery has been proven to increase resilience. Remember how you managed through stressful times in the past. The memory will renew your emotional strength. Planning a strategy can help reduce even intense feelings of hopelessness.

Give yourself joy.

Bad news can hijack your attention and consume your waking hours. Choose to increase your well-being. During a crisis, we need to give ourselves a break and offset the pain with positive activities. Think of an activity you enjoy and spend some time renewing your spirit. Being mindful of the things for which we are grateful can offset negative thoughts.

Lean on your support system.

Get in contact with your support system. Share what you are experiencing and listen in turn to them. It’s part of human nature to need to talk with each other. Isolation and loneliness are part of what a lot of us feel these days. Look to a larger support group if you need help. Think about your neighbors, your colleagues at work, and people in the online classes you may be taking. These are all people you could connect with.

Look to the experts for help.

If you need professional help, therapy can make a difference. If you have been going to therapy, keep your appointments. Many mental health experts are available through Zoom. If you need to find a professional, ask your health insurance company for a list of covered providers. Get a referral from your physician or ask trusted friends, family, or clergy for a recommendation.

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