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March 7, 2023
How to Find Your Emotional Balance in Challenging Times

Hiba Hamed

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Understanding Our Emotions and Finding Balance

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Emotions are fluid. You may be happy one day and then angry the next. You can feel emotions about the past, present, or future. How can we balance our ever-fluctuating emotions? How can we keep our emotions in check in challenging situations?

First, let’s define what emotions are and how they work. Emotions are reactions we experience in response to events or situations. Emotions influence how we live, interact with others, and hold perceptions. For example, you’ll probably feel joyful if you receive good news. But if you receive bad news, you might feel sad or concerned. 

Emotions aren’t separate from our daily lives, they’re connected to our thoughts and experiences, and they evolve. Emotions also influence our behaviour, so we should understand how they impact our daily lives and goals. 

The biology and evolution of emotions

We have positive, negative, and neutral emotions. Emotions play a role in how we react physically, psychologically, and cognitively to everyday situations. Factors such as the loss of a loved one, a promotion at work, a new addition to the family, or financial struggles can shift our emotions. 

According to Charles Darwin and Randolph Nesse, humans operate in response to threats and opportunities. Survival of the fittest and natural selection influence our behaviour towards goal achieving. Studies have shown that hormones such as adrenaline, testosterone, and cortisol affect emotions. Genetic predisposition and personal experiences also influence the emotions we experience. 

Ekman and the six basic emotions

In the 1970s, Dr. Paul Ekman identified six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. Ekman later expanded this list to include pride, shame, embarrassment, and excitement. Humans in all cultures experience these emotions.

Activity: colour your emotions 

Here’s a fun activity to help you chart your emotions. Think of it like a colour-coded journal of emotions. I thank Vicky Girouard, a notorious French entrepreneur, for promoting this idea in Quebec and abroad. 

  1. Look at a list of emotions (for example, check out Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions). 
  2. Rate your energy on a scale of 0-10 (zero means you have no energy and 10 means you have loads of energy). 
  3. Choose a colour from the mood legend below that reflects how you’re feeling that day. For instance, 
  • Red means you feel exhausted, tired, or don’t have energy. 
  • Yellow means you feel neutral or your mood is fluctuating.
  • Green means you are in a good mood, have the energy or are motivated.
  • Pro tip: Get creative and make your own colour mood legend or chart.
  1. Find a relaxing place to journal in-depth about how you feel. It's okay if you make a mistake — try to avoid judging your writing or aiming for perfection.
  2. Review and create a self-reflection piece every month or at the end of each week. Notice any trends: does a certain emotion keep coming up? Is it a positive or negative emotion? Can you find the right support if the emotion is extreme or overwhelming? How do I feel about this activity? Am I progressing or regressing? What can I do better to help myself? 

Check-in with your emotions every day

It’s essential to check in with yourself and understand your emotions or moods daily. Write about how this emotion makes you feel. What’s the opposite of the emotion you hold? For example, if I’m angry or frustrated, the opposite emotion would be feeling happy or relaxed. Identifying opposite emotions works both sides of the brain and keeps you from staying fixed on one angle or perspective. 

If the emotions you carry become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to support you with a great team of therapists. They can offer valuable insight and practical tools to help you balance your mood.

Mood Boost Mondays

No spam. Just tips and tricks to have a better week every Monday.

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