Asking for a Friend: Help! How can I learn to stop running from my emotions?
- Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
- This week, we help a student who keeps busy to avoid confronting negative feelings
Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us. If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google Form. Don’t worry – you will remain anonymous!
Recently, I have been using schoolwork and a tight schedule to escape my emotions. I know it is not ideal, but I have negative thoughts when I am quiet or alone. How can I deal with this?
I’m so stressed that I haven’t been eating. Could this be a more serious problem?
It seems like you are dealing with some complicated issues, but your question tells us that you already know that keeping yourself busy is not a good way to handle your problems and won’t make them disappear.
It can be hard to deal with negative emotions, but we need to feel them: they can provide helpful information about the world around us. Here’s some advice we hope can help:
Emotions are natural
Instead of trying to escape your feelings, you must acknowledge and accept them as part of who you are. Take time to adjust to your emotions, and don’t force yourself to behave as if you are not affected by them.
Accepting your emotions doesn’t mean allowing yourself to feel sad constantly; it just means you’re letting your feelings be what they are without trying to judge or change them. Remember that while you are unhappy now, you won’t feel this way forever.
Keep healthy habits
Maintain a balanced diet, get good sleep and ensure you’re getting enough physical activity. These help buffer negative emotions and restore your mind so you can handle life’s challenges.
Mindfulness can help you become more aware of the present, and a core component of the practice is learning how to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Meditation and breathing exercises could also help you learn to accept your emotional experiences.
Have some fun
Do something that brings you joy. Watch a movie, listen to your favourite music, read comics or chat with friends; anything that helps you gain positive emotional energy. Building up these joyful memories can give you the motivation you need to handle challenging stuff later.
I’m under a lot of pressure and don’t know why I need to study so much
Organise your thoughts
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is an excellent way to process them. Visually “seeing” our thoughts and emotions helps us better understand what we are experiencing and what our emotions mean to us. Try to identify what is causing your bad moods, and see if there are any ways you can handle or reduce them.
Reach out to others
Talk to someone you trust, such as a close friend, family member or helpful teacher. Consider talking to or texting some reliable online professional helpers. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others can reduce loneliness and help you obtain different perspectives.
Hope that helps, Friend of a Friend
Here are a few extra resources you can check out:
YouthCan: Is it possible to fight against depression with one’s own will?
YouthCan: Feeling Blue = Depression?
The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.