Emotions are a natural part of living. Yet, most people don’t take time to think about what emotions they are dealing with. When you allow yourself the time to acknowledge and assess your emotional state, you allow yourself to take control of your emotions. Doing this will help you cope with challenging situations and increase mental resilience.

As part of our support for Mental Health America’s #MentalHealthMonth, we’re contributing our own #tools2thrive, to help encourage everyone to check in with their mental health. We have a few tips to help you in assessing and owning your feelings.

1. It’s okay to feel the way you do.

Regulating our emotions is something that we learn at a young age from our parents or guardians. “Big girls don’t cry“ or “Man up” express some of the societal pressures that encourage people to shut down their emotions. This mentality is outdated and actually harmful. Emotions are natural, meaning everyone has them. You have every right to feel them, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, political affiliation, or religion.

2. Don’t bottle up your feelings.

When you push feelings aside instead of acknowledging and trying to address them, they build. If we continue to let them build, we let the emotions start to own us. Slowly they’ll begin to bleed into our everyday lives, interfering in nearly every aspect until we finally explode. Though you may not be able to recognize your emotions in the moment as they flare up, or you may need to give yourself time to calm down from a highly-charged emotional situation, be sure to reflect on your feelings and process those emotions soon after to prevent a build up from occurring.

3. Find someone to talk to.

Life is happening to all of us. Emotions are a part of us as humans. We all go through both good and bad times. Find someone you trust who you can share your feelings with. You may be surprised to find that someone you know is eager to share their own similar experiences with you. Talk with someone, it may be helpful. It’s okay to ask that friend to just listen if that’s all you feel you need. Venting out our emotions can help us recognize them, and giving voice to internal thoughts can help reveal more about them.

4. Write down all the words that describe what you’re feeling right now.

When asked about how we are feeling, it’s easy to say “good, bad, sad, mad, or fine.” But there are more to emotions than just a 3 or 4 letter word. Grab a piece of paper and write down all the words that describe how you are feeling and at what time you were feeling it. This not only builds your emotional vocabulary, but it also allows you the opportunity to review why you felt that way when you did.

5. Start a journal.

Make that writing a habit, by starting a journal. This doesn’t need to be a recap of your entire day. It can be as easy as one or two sentences or bullet points about your emotions throughout the day. This is a great way to track moods and help you pinpoint a pattern if there is one.

6. Speak with a Professional experienced in Mental Health.

If you are taking steps to be more in touch with you natural emotions, but still feel that dealing with them is hard, it may be time to seek out a medical health care professional. A trained professional like a counselor or therapist can help. There are many options including low cost and free options, or options through your employer or religious organization. Mental Health America also offers free screenings.

7. Connect with helpful resources and others like you.

It’s important to know that whatever you are feeling, you are not alone. As part of Mental Health month, we offer this as just one of the #tools2thrive. Follow us on social media for more tools like this one. We are grateful to have a very loving and warm community and would love for you to be a part of it. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin.