Handling All the Big


By Maureen Pollard

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker

with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario. 


Life can be exciting, but sometimes it seems like an emotional

roller coaster. When big and difficult things happen, feelings

can get intense. We get hurt. We get angry. We get anxious.

We get sad. It can be hard to handle, and hard to find our


“Feelings are like waves; we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf.” 

- Jonatan Martensson


Everyone experiences powerful moods, so it’s important to learn how to cope when the “big feels” arrive. Handling the hard feelings leaves us free to “surf” the happier ones. When you feel overwhelmed, these simple activities can help:

  1. Take deep breaths. Inhale while you count to three, then exhale while you count to six. Long, slow breaths activate the calming centre of our nervous system and help us feel better emotionally and physically.


  2. Get moving. Intense emotions build up physical tension. The best way to release that tension is exercise. Walk. Run. Dance. Stretch. Choose whatever movement feels good and fit it into your day.


  3. Talk it out. When we keep difficult feelings in, the pressure builds. When the pressure builds, we feel even worse. Find someone you trust to talk with, and you won’t feel so alone.


  4. Listen to music. Music can match our feelings, and it can help us move through intense experiences. Choose a playlist that helps lift your spirits when you feel low, and another one that helps calm you down when you’re feeling upset.


  5. Create art. Whether you draw, paint, sculpt or collage, making art helps express feelings when it is hard to find the words.


  6. Rest. We heal physically and emotionally when we sleep. When you make sleep a priority, you’ll feel better even if you still have problems to solve.


Making time for these simple strategies can help you find your balance when you’re overwhelmed by powerful feelings. Taking good care of yourself when you are faced with challenges will help you appreciate the good times in life even more. It’s worth it; you’re strong enough to handle whatever feelings you have in a safe and healthy way, and you deserve to enjoy your life!

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