Well-being: Self-Care in the midst of emotional turmoil

In this month’s Well-being column, C4 creative mentor and corporate wellness coach Tracy Forsyth discusses how to process emotional turmoil.

We’re not even half-way through and 2020 has been a hell of a year. Normally, 20/20 denotes crystal clear vision and clarity of thought. Not this year. Everything just gets more and more upsetting and emotions are in turmoil: fear for health, loved ones, livelihoods has been overlaid with outrage, anger at racial injustice and the murder of innocent people in broad daylight and so many instances of leadership that incite rather than unite.

Emotional turmoil is exhausting. The extra adrenaline released into your system can cause anything from muscle pain, headaches, anxiety, sleepless nights. Left unchecked, emotional pain can cause depletion of mental and physical energy, running you into the ground.

But what can you do if there are no easy or immediate answers to what’s causing emotional turmoil? Here is an exercise I hope will help:

1. Stop for a moment, be present with yourself (close your eyes if it helps) and ask, ‘What is here now?’ Take five minutes to note what you are really feeling. If it’s lots of different things, take time to identify those different thoughts.

2. Where do you feel it? Your guts, your heart, your throat? The body, mind, spirit connection is not to be ignored. And if you don’t believe that, think of what happens to your stomach when you are feeling nervous or frightened! Pay the areas you feel it attention and notice how that feeling manifests there: is it heartache, deep unease in the belly?

3. Process each feeling. Don’t squish, judge or reason away any of them. Even the uncomfortable ones. Listen and fathom out what the feeling is telling you and expressing. Give each one the airtime it deserves.

4. Take time to understand the value each of those feelings represent: anger is easy to link to injustice; but you might feel anger for not doing the right thing; fear of speaking out when taking a stand is important to you? What else? What values have been stepped on? Clarify those values.

5. What is possible from here? This question really helps if you have been feeling helpless or lost as to what to do. Whether it’s tiny or seismic, what is possible from here?

6. Finally, remember that saying, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. What do you honestly need right now – sleep, love, comfort food? Courage, support, allies and the understanding of others? Everyone is different with different needs. Make sure you respect yours. Do what you can to fill that cup.

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