Emotions and moods such as grief, rejection, loss, trauma, anger, anxiety and depression can feel confusing and overwhelming. Sometimes we try to avoid the pain, which in turn can deepen the mood. Often the pain is magnified by the narrative or story that we tell ourselves. When we feel rejected, we might tell ourselves that we feel useless. After a trauma, we might feel unsafe.

Depending on our culture and our history with other people, we might have certain ideas about how we should express or not express emotion. Take, for example, the following hypothetical situation.

Grace has just moved to Hong Kong from a small town in the USA where everyone knows each other. She is feeling overwhelmed by the long working hours and the chaos of the big city. She is struggling to make friends because people are so busy. She begins to tell herself that she will be single and alone forever.

These thoughts create anxious, lonely and sad feelings for her. When Grace was growing up, her family taught her to be tough and not to cry. Grace is unsure what emotions she is feeling, and she is not sure how to express them. She judges herself harshly for crying and feeling sad.

Here are some pointers for processing uncomfortable emotions:

Get out of your head

Sometimes when we have uncomfortable emotions, we ruminate and think about the distressing event repeatedly. When we overthink, we might feel as if we are being proactive and solving a problem. When we worry, we add stress hormones into our body. To slow down our brain, we can connect to our body through our senses. This will help to calm down our nervous system. An easy five-minute exercise to do is to close your eyes and focus on what sounds you can hear. What sounds can you hear that are far away and what sounds can you hear that are close? What can you smell? What do you smell like? Where are you tense in your body?

Be patient with yourself.

Certain emotions such as shock, loss, depression and grief can slow down our brain and body. It is during these times that we allow ourselves some time to feel and heal. Be compassionate towards yourself. Don’t judge your feelings. Our emotions give us information about ourselves and our environment.

Write your story

Writing about your story, your feelings, or an event can help you to get perspective. Writing it out encourages you to slow down and really process what is happening.

Reach out for social support

Speaking about how you feel is similar to writing as it helps you form the vocabulary to express what you are thinking and feeling. It also allows a space for trust and intimacy to develop between two people.

Reach out for professional help

A professional can give you perspective and help you to heal in a safe place free of judgement.


You can book a session by email at info@doctormonicaborschel.com.

Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.