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How to deal with difficult emotions

Lady holding her head in her hands, taken from iHASCO's online stress awareness and management training course.

It’s no surprise that over the past 16 months many of us have been on an emotional roller coaster. Our daily lives have been turned upside down and we have had to adjust to a new normal. The ups may have been few and far between with feelings of boredom, frustration, sadness, anger and even loneliness being experienced as a result of the pandemic. Despite the end of restrictions being in sight, a range of difficult emotions may still surface as we head into the next phase of the government roadmap, as there is still some level of uncertainty for what lies ahead. However, difficult emotions are a part of life, but it can be easier to deal with them if you follow these 6 steps. 

Be Mindful

If you feel a sudden rise of emotion stop and become aware of what you are experiencing. It could be a pounding heart, lump in your throat or an ache in your stomach. This alerts you to the fact you may need to take a break. Emotions should not be ignored, as they are natural and are warning you that something is going on. Take the time to process what you are feeling. 

Identify & Accept

Can you label the emotion you are experiencing? It could be anger, sadness, fear or something else. By labelling the emotion it may help you remain detached from it. Also if you bottle up how you are feeling and push it away it is more than likely to surface again. Identifying your emotion doesn’t mean declaring it to others, but by recognising it yourself you can learn not to suppress your feelings, which is an important part of managing difficult emotions.


Do you know why this emotion has emerged? Try and find an explanation for it so you can make sense of it. Don’t judge yourself and remind yourself that it is normal to have emotions. The idea isn’t to blame someone else for what you are feeling, but to explain why you feel the way you do. Is the emotion a result of being self critical, or as a result of a comment from someone else or a specific situation? Delving into the root cause will help you gain insight into what is happening.


What should you do with this emotion? Should you simply just acknowledge it and pause for a breath before carrying on? Sometimes acting on an emotion is not a good idea if you feel angry at someone or feel overwhelmed with a situation. Going for a walk, getting a cup of tea or glass of water can help. Perhaps you could talk to someone (especially if they have contributed to how you feel) or maybe try to alter your mood. Thinking about any positives from your day or week or arranging to meet up with a friend can help alter your emotions for the better. Whatever you decide to do it will help you express your emotion and deal with it or accept that you are feeling a certain way but need to move on and change your mood. 

Be positive

It can be incredibly difficult to override negative emotions, however focus on positive thoughts and notice things that make you happy, no matter how small. This can help improve your wellbeing. Getting into the habit of recognising what has gone well will help you learn how to shift the balance from not just feeling negative emotions, but more positive emotions too. 

Seek help

Don’t be afraid to seek help if negative emotions are consuming you. Talk to someone you trust - either a family member, colleague or seek help from your GP. 

How to deal with difficult emotions in 6 steps infographic

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Online courses to support mental health and wellbeing

With more and more employers recognising that mental ill-health needs to be addressed, supporting employees and providing them with the tools to aid their wellbeing makes good business sense. The Coronavirus pandemic has also heightened the need for employee wellbeing to be taken seriously. Alongside our mental health awareness training course, further wellbeing courses are available, such as resilience, managing anxiety and stress awareness & management training. Trial any of these courses for free today, by requesting instant access here.