Guidance for processing negative emotion as a means to feel more rested and more joyful.
Our ability to feel maximum amounts of joy is related to our willingness to feel and move through emotional pain. Every emotion signifies a genuine need that isn’t being met and unmet needs and unprocessed emotions combined can make for a miserable night’s rest and decreased experiences of joy in life.
As you can probably tell these days, emotions - such as righteous anger (or,
being angry at things that oppose God or a Higher Being) - are not just pesky problems we need to just overcome, they are real signals from the body regarding our needs.
We feel a rollercoaster of emotions as we move throughout our increasingly complicated lives. Regardless of any complicated life circumstances, our on-the-go lifestyle rarely affords us much space to disengage, disconnect, digest, detox, and deliver the kind of attention to ourselves that we need for any sort of emotional processing. We may even find ourselves preparing for bed each night focusing on what we need to do for others in the days ahead. By staying “others-focused” we keep any difficult emotions buried beneath us and out of sight and continue propelling ourselves forward onto the next thing, into the next day. If we are living out in the world fully and involved, we undoubtedly experience negative emotions quite regularly. And although we may think our dismissal of them are enough to rid our bodies of their effects, we couldn’t be more incorrect. There is no easy way to deal with and heal from negative emotion. It’s a choice to be made and a consequential feeling that comes from it, for better if we process it, or for worse, if we don’t.
For anyone to truly move into joy after experiencing something negative, they must first feel the negative emotion as a precursor, then to moving through and beyond it - moving into joy. There is a process to shedding negative emotion en route to surrendering your trust to a higher power. And although we have been programmed through history to suppress our emotions, especially the difficult ones, and even sometimes choosing adaptive strategies to pathological situations, we often chose to carry this learned behavior forward because it’s become innate to us or somehow it just makes life easier. However, this will only and likely already has resulted in accumulated energy blocks in the body - where emotions get stuck in your body and fester - and if not addressed can result in all kinds of health problems down the road.
Identifying - Allowing - Releasing - Honoring, all emotions, from our current life circumstances to the unresolved pain and trauma from earlier periods in life should hold a sense of priority in our lives, not only for how we feel and experience emotion in the present, but for our future selves.
Emotions left unexpressed and un-acted upon often manifest as illness, an unrest in the body. Learning to process negative emotions can be as easy as having a regular, healthy nighttime routine. Often, our emotions may keep us from sound, regular rest and when you are sleep deprived, your body shifts into cellular inflammation mode. Sleep is hands down the most effective way our bodies have to metabolize excess stress hormones and heal our body. How you wind down and set yourself up for sleep however, does matter, and can significantly influence the day ahead of you. Your nighttime intentions can serve as your regular routine time to practice processing your emotions so you don’t take them to bed with you. Here are a few tips I’ve been focusing on lately and finding helpful.
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A MINDFUL SLEEP - as you do, offer yourself some audible words of gratitude for showing up to conquer your day in the way that you did. Give yourself some praise. Then enjoy a warm epsom salt bath, a quiet contemplative sit, hygiene routines, self-massage, a few simple stretches, put your legs up the wall, you get the idea!
CREATE AN ELECTRONIC SUNDOWN - light from devices are activating for the nervous system and impacts Melatonin release in the brain - an antioxidant essential for good health and sound sleep. Instead, try to …
JOURNAL WITH A 5-MINUTE MIND DUMP - identify and write down a mix of positive and negative emotions you felt during your day and anything else you want to write down about how you felt, dealt and now are trying to process. Once you finish writing, read aloud what you wrote.
SLEEP IN THE DARK - if possible; ambient light also decreases Melatonin.
GO TO BED BY 10 PM - in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, it is well established that the liver detox cycle in the body runs from 10 pm to 2 am. That means your body will get maximum detox and rejuvenation time if you’re sleeping during those hours instead of watching television or working on a device.
MORNING RITUAL - Allow yourself 30 minutes of introspective time first thing each morning to flow through a morning routine before picking up a device. Do this even if it means waking up earlier. Use that powerful, nearly awakened clean slate to set the tone for your day. Meditate, practice yoga, take a walk or run outside, make yourself tea, sit with your dog or cat, breathe, observe, listen, contemplate (don't plan), and practice any of your favorite morning self-care routines.
Keep in mind, not only can each one be more personalized to your needs, they should be done together and considered a routine practice for them to feel effective and put you closer toward experiencing maximum joy and more restful sleep more often!