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MindSG

Explore our suite of self-care tools and resources to help you better understand and manage your mental health.

The importance of managing emotions

Each of us plays many roles in our lives – from being a breadwinner, a friend, a role model to our children, to being a caregiver for our elderly parents. These responsibilities often come with different sets of challenges and concerns.

At times, we feel overwhelmed or drained. Such feelings often manifest themselves as intense emotions. By learning how to manage these emotions, we can take better care of our own well-being. This will in turn get us into a better position to support our loved ones and overcome any challenges ahead.

The importance of managing emotions

What are emotions and why do we feel them?

We all experience emotions as a normal and important part of our lives.

Emotions are
information

They help us know how to respond appropriately to circumstances we’re in and frame what we make of the situation.

It’s normal to feel
all kinds of emotions

All emotions have their functions.
Experiencing the full range of emotions adds meaning to our lives and helps us to handle challenges.

What are emotions and why do we feel them?

6 basic emotions

There is a wide spectrum of emotions. However, there are generally 6 basic emotions, which are universally experienced:

Anger
Anger

An emotional state leading to feelings of hostility and frustration

Disgust
Disgust

A strong emotion that results in the feeling of being repulsed

Fear
Fear

A primal emotion that is important to survival and triggers a fight or flight response

Happiness
Happiness

A pleasant emotional state that elicits feelings of joy, contentment, and satisfaction

Sadness
Sadness

An emotional state characterised by feelings of disappointment, grief or hopelessness

Surprise
Surprise

A brief emotional state, either positive or negative, following something unexpected

Why is it important to understand and manage our emotions?

Although emotions are an instinctive and natural thing, it can sometimes be intense and overwhelming. That’s why we can all benefit from understanding and managing our emotions healthily.

Managing our emotions helps us make better decisions, big or small.
Managing our emotions helps us make better decisions, big or small.
Understanding our emotions allows us to become aware of triggers, so we can gain insights on how to respond in constructive ways.
Understanding our emotions allows us to become aware of triggers, so we can gain insights on how to respond in constructive ways.
Accepting our emotions allows us to view our thoughts and perspectives objectively, instead of defaulting to making negative judgements about ourselves and others.
Accepting our emotions allows us to view our thoughts and perspectives objectively, instead of defaulting to making negative judgements about ourselves and others.

Watch this video to see why it’s important to acknowledge and manage our emotions as they arise.


How do we manage our emotions?

Step 1: Identify the emotion
  • Practice noticing and identifying our emotions by using the feelings tracker to identify how we are feeling.
  • Avoid brushing away or pretending not to have certain emotions as we might get overwhelmed and become less effective at managing them. Our feelings are there to help us make sense of what’s going on!
  • Check in with our body too. We may also feel some body sensations with certain emotions – perhaps our face gets hot and muscles tense up.
Step 2: Know why we feel the way we do
  • Accept all our emotions as natural and not something to avoid. Seek to understand and figure out what happened that got us feeling this way.
  • Our emotions can arise from many things. It could be from events, situations, or even our own thoughts or memories.
  • Knowing what brought about that feeling and why we felt that way would also make it easier for us to have a better grasp and assess on how best to manage our feelings.
Step 3: Manage unhelpful thoughts
  • Consider whether things are really as bad as they seem. Sometimes, unhelpful thinking patterns may magnify the negativity of the situation. For example, we may overgeneralise and think, “I have failed once, I will fail again for sure”.
  • When we have such negative thoughts, we can use My Positivity Guide to reframe such thoughts by focusing on the good things around us.
  • Shred away these unhelpful thinking patterns using the Emotions Explorer.
  • Think about the best way to express our emotions or regulate them, so we can feel better. For example, would it feel more conducive to gently confront someone or work off the feeling by going for a run?
Step 4: Take action and adopt self-care tips
  • Consider doing more of the things we enjoy, such as spending time in nature, listening to music or even sleeping. We can also try exercising as it has mood-boosting effects and relieves stress.
  • Learn relaxation skills such as:
    • Pick up deep breathing exercises as a method of relaxation
    • Practice progressive muscle relaxation where we tense a group of muscles as we breathe in and relax them as we breathe out
    • Use guided imagery where, for example, we imagine ourselves at the beach feeling the warm breeze on our skin
    • Consider mindfulness where we slow down our racing thoughts and be aware of our body and mind
How do we manage our emotions?

How do I talk about my emotions?

Talking to others about our emotions can also help us explore new perspectives and understand our thinking patterns.

Pick someone to talk to

A friend, parent, relative or colleague can be people we can talk to. For a start, we can reach out to the person we trust and say, “Can we talk for a minute? I have something to share.” We can then share how we feel and why. We may just find ourselves surprised that someone can help us feel better and assure us that we are not alone.

Know that we can talk about our feelings anytime

We don’t have to wait for our problems to be big or have a special time to talk about them. It’s good to practise talking about them earlier as it allows us to notice them.

We don’t have to talk about every feeling we have but noticing our feelings and saying how we feel and why, is good practice and a healthy way to express them. It is also okay to not know why we are feeling certain emotions. We can still say something like “I feel angry but I don’t know why.”

The more we talk about it, the easier it gets. It doesn’t just help us understand ourselves, but also increases the connection that we have with people who matter to us.

How do I talk about my emotions?

References