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The teenage years are an exciting time for many of us. There is so much going on in our lives, such as starting at a new school, meeting new people, and making more friends.We may also be trying out new activities and experiences, learning to be more independent, taking on new responsibilities, and finding our strengths. As we adjust to these changes, it is natural to feel excited, tense and even sad at times. So, it is important for us to learn to manage our feelings so we can perform at our best.
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.
There is a wide range of emotions. However, there are generally 6 basic emotions, which are universally experienced:
An emotional state leading to feelings of hostility and frustration
A strong emotion that results in feelings of great dislike
A primal emotion that is important to survival and triggers a fight or flight response
A pleasant emotional state that produces feelings of joy, contentment, and satisfaction
An emotional state characterised by feelings of disappointment, grief or hopelessness
A brief emotional state, either positive or negative, following something unexpected
In our teenage years, we may sometimes experience stronger emotions. For instance, we may feel angry and sad more often.
At times, we may also find it difficult to manage our emotions. However, this is normal as our brains are still developing:
Although emotions are an instinctive and natural thing, they can sometimes be intense and overwhelming. That’s why we can all benefit from understanding and managing our emotions healthily.
Some of us may have trouble identifying emotions – especially as we tend to experience many emotions (including complex and unfamiliar ones) all at the same time. Letting the strong emotions we feel get out of hand might increase our risk of developing mental health problems, so it is important for us to learn how to manage our emotions.
When managing our emotions, we might unknowingly fall into the mindset of toxic positivity, which refers to an obsession with positive thinking. This is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, neglecting and brushing away emotions like sadness and anger, in a bid to feel “positive and happy” all the time.
Toxic positivity can often be subtle or not noticeable, but learning to recognise the signs can help us better identify this type of behaviour. Some signs include:
Brushing off problems rather than facing them.
Feeling guilty about being sad, angry, or disappointed.
Hiding true feelings behind feel-good quotes that seem more socially acceptable.
Hiding/Disguising how we really feel or trying to 'get over' painful emotions.
Shaming other people when they don’t have a positive attitude.
Minimising other people’s feelings because they make us uncomfortable.
There are also risks such as:
Talking to others about our emotions can also help us explore new perspectives and understand our thinking patterns.
That someone can be a friend, sibling, parent, teacher or school counsellor. We can just go to the person we feel we can trust and say, “Got a minute? There’s something I want 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.
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. This can take place while going home with a classmate after school, or with a sibling at home.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.
Traumatic events are anything that can cause great stress to us. They can range from the death of a loved one, being physically abused, witnessing violence in the family, to events like being in a car accident.Common and natural emotions felt after traumatic events can include fear, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness. Knowing how we feel can help us make sense of our experience. The time taken to recover and heal from traumatic events is not the same for everyone, and that’s okay. In the process of recovery, one of the things that is within our control is our ability to manage our emotions.However, if the uncontrollable reactions (such as flashbacks and nightmares) and emotions that follow from traumatic events are overwhelming and last a long time until they affect us and the people around us, it is a cause for concern.
If our emotions become too overwhelming and are beyond our control, we can always reach out to seek support. A trusted adult/friend, or a healthcare professional, can help us in our times of need. Learn more on how we can reach out to them here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing serious or violent family conflicts or is in an abusive situation, reach out for help by calling:
Belle, Beyond the Label helpbot, is an interactive platform for users to find mental health resources and services in a private and convenient manner. If you or anyone you know is overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, find the help you need via Belle.
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