The unique challenges faced by PWDs are often misunderstood or dismissed. In the face of emotional isolation and difficulties beyond one’s control, it can feel almost impossible to maintain a sense of calm.
Anger and grief are simply part of being alive, and for PWDs, one may feel entirely justified for harbouring intensely negative emotions over long periods of time.
This is often true, and no one has the right to demand that you bury your emotions. That said, there are many ways to channel your feelings in a manner that is healthier, constructive, or both.
The trick is understanding what works for you, what doesn’t, and why.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Prevention is far better than cure
Activities such as yoga or Tai Chi can be incredibly effective when made into a habit. The keyword here is habit. Calming exercises are not a quick fix to emotional outbursts, so it shouldn’t only be done when a situation riles you up. After all, short tempers and deep-rooted grievances don’t get resolved overnight.
Habitually engaging in activities that relax your mind, simply for the sake of it, will do wonders for long-term emotional management.
Don’t confuse alone-time with isolation
If you’re fully aware of how your emotions affect yourself and those around you, that’s great. It’s this mindfulness that helps you know when to step away from a stressful situation to cool-off.
Yet being alone and being in isolation are two very different things, with very contrasting results. Being alone, for a time at least, can be a great way of venting out your feelings without ruining your relationships.
True isolation, on the other hand, is self-destructive. Long periods of this would instead cause negative emotions to fester, or even create new ones such as a sense of paranoia. We’re all social creatures – you’ll need to talk through your emotions eventually.
On that note, communicate your distress
No one’s a mind reader. Learning to effectively convey your feelings maturely is integral to healthy emotional management. It’s also key to resolving a potential conflict that triggers your outbursts.
Communicating your emotions and the reason behind them opens the door for others to potentially empathize with you. Do be careful with who you open up to, of course. Getting a second opinion from a trusted confidant can help rationalise your emotional state.
The biggest gain here isn’t in finding potential solutions to your outbursts. Instead, it’s about finding pillars of emotional support and realising that you’re not alone. That’s often more than enough for relief.
Professional therapy should never be underestimated
We’ve long since leapfrogged over a time when conversations on mental health were taboo. If speaking to friends is primarily for venting, professional therapists are there for guiding you toward discovering actual solutions on your own.
If you’re considering professional help, it’s likely that person is also a stranger. There’s a big upside to this. Studies show that outputting emotions toward someone impartial can be far more beneficial than venting to friends and family. Sometimes, you don’t want the bias associated with familiarity to cloud your thoughts.
Offer yourself regular intervals for self-reflection
A private diary or blog is fantastic for venting emotions healthily. But if the practice isn’t for you, simply having regular moments to yourself is enough.
Reflect on the day, consider the thoughts and actions you made, and reaffirm what you should do better, continue doing, or avoid entirely. Figure out why you feel the way you do.
Turbulent emotions are often the byproduct of denial, so be honest with yourself. All the same, don’t be too self-critical. Acknowledging what you’re doing right is just as important as being aware that there’s room for improvement.
And improve you shall. You may not always be able to maintain your calm, but you can easily take the right steps to be generally happier.
Ann Pietrangelo (2022) How to Be Happy: 27 Habits to Add to Your Routine [Accessed 22 Nov 2022] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-be-happy
Melinda Smith (2022) Living Well with a Disability [Accessed 29 Nov 2022] Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/living-well-with-a-disability.htm
Amy Morin (2018) 5 Strategies Mentally Strong People Use to Keep Their Feelings in Check [Accessed 30 Nov 2022] Available at: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/how-mentally-strong-people-keep-their-feelings-in-check.html
Micaela Marini Higgs (2019) Why You Should Find Time to Be Alone With Yourself [Accessed 30 Nov 2022] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/smarter-living/the-benefits-of-being-alone