When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.
-Tara Meyer Robson
Heightened emotions just seem to be a normal part of motherhood, starting in pregnancy and continuing into postpartum and beyond. Emotional intelligence can help us learn to identify emotions before reacting to them. It’s a way to be more intentional in the world versus being emotionally reactive.
What should you do with all these big feelings and emotions? First, allow time and space for all of you to feel these feelings. If you or someone in your family is having trouble identifying and honing in on exactly how you’re feeling, start with the primary emotions: happy, sad, mad, and scared. Name how you’re feeling. For anger, see if you can go deeper. Are you actually scared? Sad? Something else? For sadness, ask yourself if it’s actually grief you’re feeling. Are you currently grieving the loss of someone or something in your life right now?
Next, remind yourself to set clear boundaries around your feelings and emotions, within your family as well as with people outside of your family. Acknowledge how you are truly feeling deep down. Sit with these feelings and process them. Don’t allow others to try to fix them or take them on for you. The boundary setting is important so you also don’t try to fix other people’s feelings or take them on for them.
Also, pay attention to where you carry your stress, feelings and emotions within your body. Some common areas include:
- Your head- this may equal frequent headaches, pressure behind your eyes, pounding inside your head, etc.
- Your jaw- your symptoms may include clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, jaw pain, etc.
- Your neck and shoulders- this may include tightness, pain, muscle soreness, etc.
- Your chest- this may include your heart pounding, tightness, trouble breathing, shallow breathes, etc.
- Your stomach- your symptoms may show up as butterflies in your stomach, pain, digestive issues, etc.
- Your hands- you may notice yourself clenching your fists, that you have sweaty palms, etc.
- Your legs/feet- this may equal crossed, restless, tightness, etc. in your legs and/or feet.
What else would you add to this list?
Finally, focus on self-care and healthy coping mechanisms. What type of self-care is helpful when emotions are running high for you?
- Slow down your breathing- listen to a guided meditation, take deep, slow breaths, etc.
- Practice the pause- pause before you say or do something you might regret.
- Take a break- go for a quick walk, pay attention to your pet, etc.
- Go outside and focus on being mindful of your five senses.
- Schedule in transitions throughout your day to help you move from home to work to home mode again (especially if you’re currently work from home!).
- Process your emotions- in your head, on paper in your journal, with a loved one, in therapy, etc.
- Schedule time for things that fill you up emotionally- reading, connecting with a close friend, watching your new favorite show on Netflix, listen to an interesting podcast, etc.
So, now that you’re at the end of this blog, how are you feeling about your motherhood emotional intelligence? Are you in tune with your own emotions? How about other people’s emotions? Do you know where you tend to feel certain emotions physically in your body? Do you have a self-care routine that helps you feel re-centered when your emotions are heightened? Just a few reflection questions for you here! I wish you all the best as you continue your emotional intelligence work; and remember it’s an ongoing process for us all (this therapist included!).