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Managing Emotions

Among the more difficult challenges we face is learning how to manage our emotions. This can be especially hard when those emotions are intense, and we fear that we may be overwhelmed by our sadness, anger, or anxiety. It may also be true in cases when our powerful emotions are positive ones, such as love or joy. We may fear that we will lose control of our emotions, and instead allow them to control us.

So how can you manage intense emotions? While there are some differences depending on the type of emotion you are experiencing (and please see our other Self-Help Topics for more information), there are some general strategies which may help you to feel more in control:

  • Relax
    Breathing and relaxation exercises can help us to slow down the physical symptoms that may accompany strong emotions. Learn how to breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm. Use a technique such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation to identify and release physical tension in your body.

  • Talk It Out
    Sometimes it can be helpful to take time to speak with a loved one or trusted friend about what you are feeling. Holding your emotions in can leave you feeling like you are about to explode, so finding an appropriate outlet can be beneficial. They may also be able to offer alternative perspectives, depending on the situation.

  • Take Time Out
    If you are in a situation in which you are unable to express your emotions, excuse yourself for a few minutes, gather your thoughts, and slow yourself down.

  • Write It Down
    Writing down your feelings in a journal can help you to understand and manage your emotions. It can not only assist you in clarifying your emotions, it can also serve as an outlet, in which you put it down on paper and “put it away” so you can get back to living your life.

  • Take Care of Yourself
    When we are under pressure or feeling highly emotional, it can be helpful to do something that is soothing or relaxing. Examples include taking a walk, exercising, playing with your pets, taking a bubble bath, or eating something that you enjoy. The idea is to treat yourself, particularly when your emotions leave you feeling unhappy or upset with yourself.

  • Keep a Routine
    Sticking with your normal schedule can help you to feel more in control of your life.

  • Remember
    Feelings come and go, especially negative ones. What you may be experiencing now is likely not a permanent thing. As circumstances transform, you may discover that you are better able to manage your emotions. Hold on to the belief that things will change!

  • Seek Help
    In cases when you are unable to manage your emotions, please contact the Drexel University Counseling Center at (215) 895-1415, or e-mail Our professional staff is available to help you regain a sense of control over what you are feeling.

There is a video presentation on Managing Your Emotions available at the following link: managing emotions.

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.