In a state of mindfulness, you make space to step back, reflect, and thoughtfully respond — rather than spontaneously react.
Life is full, and it moves fast. Sometimes that fast-paced fullness can feel exhilarating — even fun! — but on a consistent basis, it feels more like stress. And that stress can cause some pretty intense and challenging emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, and loneliness, just to name a few. For us introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs), who process and feel things deeply, those negative emotions can quickly become overwhelming.
But there’s the good news: You can naturally stop anxiety. The key to transcending overwhelming emotions is the key to most of life’s problems: mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm stress and soothe yourself.
In a state of mindfulness, you make space to step back, reflect, and thoughtfully respond — rather than spontaneously react — to the varying ups and downs of life. For many introverts and HSPs, the concept of mindfulness comes naturally, but it’s about learning to intentionally step into the practice of it.
So, here are six things you can do to acknowledge, understand, and transform negative emotions in a mindful way.
6 Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety Mindfully
1. Accept your emotions.
Emotions demand to be felt.
Often we try to avoid negative or intense emotions by ignoring them — or bottling them up — but the only way they’ll go away is by acknowledging and accepting that they’re there in the first place. Ignoring what wants to be seen will only cause it to bubble up and explode later, creating more intense emotions or even causing a complete emotional shutdown.
Extend yourself the same kindness you would to an overwhelmed friend, and sit with and accept your emotions. Here’s how you can do that:
- To become more fully aware of the emotion you’re feeling, notice where it lives in your physical body. You might feel it as a stomach ache, shortness of breath, or muscle tension in your shoulders or back.
- Just be with the emotion. Don’t ignore it but don’t push it away either. According to a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, emotions like anger often pass within 90 seconds.
- Remember that your difficult emotions are a signal; a teacher with an important message. They are trying to help you wake up to what’s going on inside (and perhaps, outside) you before a major crisis occurs.
This mindful acceptance will allow you to be with yourself and your emotions with greater self-understanding and compassion.
2. Name your emotions.
After my son was born, I felt a deep and chronic sense of anxiety, overwhelm, and some resentment that my life was no longer my own. Eventually I had to acknowledge and label my emotions so that my life wouldn’t be run by them. So I allowed myself to get into the habit of asking: Am I feeling sad, ashamed, angry, resentful?
What’s important to remember is that although you are pinpointing your emotion…
…YOU are not that emotion.
It’s the difference between — I am angry and I am feeling angry. One version is tied to your identity and the other is simply a passing feeling.
So I would go within, name my emotion and then say: “I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, and that’s okay. I am going to allow myself to just be with it.”
Of course, all of my bad feelings didn’t just go away — and on some occasions, they were still quite painful and disruptive — but pinpointing and labeling my feelings allowed me to take some of the fear out of what I was experiencing.
3. Recognize the impermanence of your emotions.
When you’re in the middle of a tough season of life, it can be hard to remember that seasons come and go. And so too do difficult emotions.
When you can remember and recognize the impermanence of your emotions — that you won’t always feel this way forever — you will begin to experience them in a more fleeting manner, like clouds that pass by in the sky. They are here for a little while and then they disappear.
Maintain that observer perspective and encourage the processing of those emotions with acts of loving-kindness toward yourself.
- “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”
- “How can I nurture myself?”
- “What do I need right now?”
Answering these questions (and following through on the insight) fosters deep compassion for yourself.
4. Investigate the origin of your emotions.
Looking at the root of your negative emotions will help you gain critical insight into what you are experiencing. Take a moment to reflect and explore what happened to cause this negative emotion in the first place. Maybe you are feeling angry or unappreciated or disconnected from a co-worker, a friend, or a romantic partner. Dig deep and get to the root cause (something that comes naturally to introverts and HSPs).
“What is causing me to feel this way? Was it something I or someone else said, did, or didn’t do?”
Refuse to just “push through” and slog it out. Instead, take time to explore your emotions and create space for authentic answers.
5. Let go of trying to control or immediately “fix” your emotions.
Another important key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to over-control or immediately “fix” them.
“But I’ll feel so much better if they just go away,” you might say. “Why not get rid of my negative emotions immediately?!”
Here’s the thing: You don’t need to expedite your way through negative emotions to also trust that you’re going to be okay.
Sure, it can be extremely uncomfortable to tolerate the anxiety of unresolved emotions, but moving through (rather than avoiding) tough stuff also cultivates personal depth. As therapist and author Katherine Woodward Thomas once said: “Living with questions requires us to sit with the messiness of what it is to be human without the ability to tidy everything up immediately. Sometimes this is what it is like when one is seeking wisdom.”
Do your best to be patient with your “messy” emotions. Open up to believing that all of life is supporting your ever-constant transformation — and try to believe that maybe, just maybe, sitting with your pain will guide you toward priceless insights and greater happiness.
6. Meditate with a mantra.
Meditating with a mantra is an immediate, effective, and easy way to relieve stress, control anxiety, and release pressure — providing long-lasting calming effects that you can take with you into your day. It has been clinically proven to boost your health (see here and here), your happiness (here and here), and your productivity (see here).
Even a small practice of three minutes a day will create greater peace and satisfaction with your relationships, creativity, and career. Here’s a simple but impactful guided meditation to help you:
Primary Effect: To lessen feelings of anxiety or pain and improve feelings of calm, centeredness, satisfaction, and harmony.
Posture: Sit cross-legged with a straight spine.
Mudra (Hand Position): Place the tip of the index finger against the tip of the thumb; keep the rest of the fingers straight.
Time: 3 minutes
Instructions: Set an alarm on your phone for three minutes, and repeat this mantra:
“Breathe in peace, love, forgiveness. Breathe out anything that no longer serves me.”
End with three extended inhales and exhales.
Inhale. Stretch arms upward for 10 seconds lengthening the spine, and exhale.
Remember that being mindful about your emotions — becoming aware of them, acknowledging them, and meditating through them — is the only way to truly let go of them for good.
I can help you create the harmonious, successful life you’ve always desired. Learn more about my coaching programs for women here.
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