Managing feelings

Managing Feelings

Sometimes the newness of a situation can feel overwhelming and your emotional response may feel very intense and perhaps even scary. It can be comforting to remember that in the past you have lived through similar experiences (e.g., like starting at a new school) and that in spite of your initial reaction you were able to adjust eventually.

It is often better to share your reactions with someone in spite of any possible worry that no one would understand. You can often gain relief - and possibly a new, reassuring perspective - when you talk to someone else about how you're feeling.

Remind yourself that your thoughts and feelings are important whether or not they are shared by others. Allow yourself to 'listen' to your feelings/thoughts/reactions rather than pushing them down or medicating yourself with alcohol, drugs, food, etc. You might gain insights that could lead to different ways of dealing with your experience. Attending university is not only a chance to gain an academic education: the experience also provides the opportunity to get to know yourself better.

Remember it is generally helpful to:

1. 'Acknowledge' your thoughts, feelings, reactions (at least internally) without making a judgment (e.g., I am really feeling sad; I am angry, scared; I am feeling inadequate, etc.).

2. Ask 'what might be going on for me? ' 'What does this situation remind me of?' Sometimes a person experiences strong emotions that seem like an overreaction; it might be possible that the present circumstances provoke an emotional memory of a previously stressful/painful situation. Recognizing this connection might allow you to have a better understanding of your present situation.

3. Reassure yourself that no matter what you think or feel, it is all right even if it is negative; there is a difference between thinking and feeling something and acting it out. Thoughts/feelings do NOT equal actions. Ask yourself, given your feelings/thoughts, what would be helpful right now? What might you be able to do to comfort yourself and/or to deal with the situation constructively.

4. Remember previous adjustments. For example, when you first started secondary school, started new jobs...imagine what you felt like. Note your feelings, thoughts from that experience. How did you deal with it? What was comforting to you?

5. How do you generally deal with stress? What else could you do to soothe/take care of yourself? Try making a list of activities.

6. Do you ever use drugs, alcohol, or food to help yourself 'feel better?' If so, what could you do instead?