Let It Out: Bottling Up Your Emotions Will Burn You Out
Health & Wellness Aug 01, 2018
Sugar, spice and everything nice, that’s what good South Asian kids are made of … right? But what happens when we are too nice? Read on for tips on healthy ways to express your feelings because bottling up your emotions will burn you out!
Are you concerned about maintaining a “nice” person reputation? Is being an obedient, agreeable and selfless family member as promoted in the traditional South Asian culture an expectation set by your family (or yourself)? Prioritizing family and being agreeable are great values however when we only selflessly and obedience evolves into a fear of saying no, those values can be harmful to our mental health; the more we bottle up, the higher the risk we’ll one day burn-out or explode. How can you balance being selfless with self-care? Try these tips to beat your burn-out:
- Explain your emotions: Don’t assume someone knows how you’re feeling if you haven’t explained it. Sometimes when someone hurts us, we feel shocked at their insensitivity; “how can they be so demanding? Don’t they realize they are stressing me out?” Before questioning their behavior, question what you’re doing that makes them think they can behave that way. If you keep saying yes to everything, you can’t fault people for asking you to do everything. Speaking up is a huge part of self-care; check out the next tip on how to start the conversation.
Express ownership: More important than what you say is how you say it. Be mindful of the language you use. Stay calm and compassionate in your approach to help prevent conversations from escalating; remember not every disagreement has to lead to an argument. For example, instead of saying “you’re putting too much pressure on me” which can come off accusatory, say “I feel a lot of pressure when…” Remember there’s two sides to every story. If you’re trying to change something that’s been happening for a while, own your part in the situation; instead of “you’ve been doing this to me for years,” say “I have been feeling pressure for a long time and I admit I was too scared/shy to say so.”
- Expect change to take time: So you explained and expressed yourself – great! Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when it involves other people. Stay patient and give yourself and whomever is involved enough time to process the shift; as long as your both making effort, it will eventually work out.
- Engage help: Sometimes a 1:1 conversation isn’t enough to get a change in behaviour. If you do steps 1 – 3 but there’s no improvement after a fair amount of time, you may need to seek help from an outside source (e.g. an unbiased family member or mediator). If bottling up emotions is a general habit that you experience in many relationships, you may want to seek help alone first in the form of a mentor, counsellor, life coach or therapist.
- Exercise: Why is exercise on this list? Because evidence shows alongside its physical benefits, it’s good for our mental health. Not ready to talk about your emotions yet? That’s okay. Remember punching a person is not good but punching a boxing bag can feel great. Instead of keeping the stress inside, grab some sneakers and sweat it out!
Main Image Photo Credit: http://princessinthetower.org
Rachna (@mindfullyyours)is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfulness...
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