Clearing a negative emotion

I don’t post much about my mental health but I’ve lived with depression and anxiety to a lesser extent for most of my life.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in intrusive thoughts that leave me feeling hopeless and worthless.

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to clear a negative emotion is to move through it. Literally move.

Walk.

Run.

Clean your house.

Dance.

Do yoga.

Make love.

Exercise.

It’s really hard to get yourself motivated to do anything when you are feeling low. It’s important to honour your need for down time. I personally can’t think of a time where I was feeling depressed and regretted convincing myself to do something.

It’s okay to take baby steps. I remember one winter I told myself that I’d walk the dogs to the highway and back which is a 2km walk. It was short. It took like 20 minutes, we didn’t work that hard and I felt better every time.

Other days I’d feel so overwhelmed with simple tasks like laundry or vacuuming or tidying up. ‘Just do 10 minutes and then you can read for as long as you like.’ Often the short bursts of activity would motivate me to do more. It took a long time but eventually my house got cleaned and I had that small sense of accomplishment to hold onto.

Many days when I didn’t feel like doing anything but reading or watching TV, I’d roll out my yoga mat and say ‘Just do your favourite poses. Fit in the six essential movements of the spine. Once that’s done you can stop if you want.’ Often I’d go a lot longer.

Why moving works so well is that it helps you to slip out of your poisonous thoughts and into your physical body. It allows me to feel the physical sensations that my emotions bring – often for me, a huge, gaping ache in my heart. .
Once I feel those sensations, I can stop resisting my emotions. I can be more compassionate towards myself. I can send myself some love and understanding. I can build myself up. I can accept myself.

I’m surrendering to what’s true and real in my life in that moment. I don’t have to hide it or pretend that I’m okay. My heart breaks open and it softens. I start to heal myself.
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