This post was written by Cupertino High School student, Lina Youn. Lina is part of a project to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in the local community. Neolth partnered with Cupertino High School students to expand this project.
“How are you?”
It’s a question we’re all very familiar with. Teachers, friends, family, and extended family all ask variations of that age-old phrase. Most of the time, the answer is simple. “I’m good. How about you?” It’s the attitude we normally try to have. Everything is fine. Everything is fine, even as you stress about your upcoming final. Everything is fine, even though you're fighting with your friend. Everything is fine.
So why do we think everything is fine when everything is indeed not fine? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel that it is the right time to embrace all the complex things going on inside of us, or maybe it’s because we simply don’t think they matter.
Repressing negative emotions is a problem a lot of us struggle with. It’s an easy hole to fall into, and one that’s difficult to get out of. Repressed emotions are emotions that you subconsciously avoid, and with them, you might feel unable to talk about things that matter to you, build intimate relationships, understand how other people feel, or encourage yourself. Interestingly enough, emotions like stress really do affect your physical wellbeing, emerging in ways such as muscle tension and pain, nausea and digestive problems, appetite changes, and fatigue and sleep problems.
There are several solutions to emotion repression that are worth a try:
Naming your feelings: acknowledging that you are feeling something, such as making a statement like “I feel sad,” will help you grow more comfortable with your emotions. Identifying what exactly you are feeling is also an important step in accepting them.
“So what?” exercise: find out what the problem is and ask yourself “so what?” Keep asking yourself this question to your previous answer.
Sometimes what you discover may not be something you want to know, but it’s all part of ensuring that your repressed emotions are heard.
Utilizing imagery: taking the example of sadness, you could envision that sadness as a shard of ice. Imagine a candle slowly enveloping the ice and melting it. These visualizing exercises allow you to think of your feelings in an almost metaphorical sense rather than literally.
Journal: writing about what you’re feeling can also be a great help. Especially to those who aren’t comfortable talking with others, your journal can oftentimes be the best listener and help you uncover your repressed feelings.
Breathe: granted, this sounds a lot more cliché than the other suggestions, but it can really help. Take several calming breaths; think of your breath starting in your stomach and reaching up to your chest.
Workout: like there are physical symptoms to repressing emotions, there are also physical ways of relief. Exercising can relieve stiff muscles and different aches, but it can also relieve negative emotions.
A place you can try most of these solutions is Neolth. Neolth comes with a plethora of activities to boost mental health, such as social-emotional learning (SEL) practices to increase your ability to identify and regulate emotions, as well as breathing and visualization exercises. While doing these exercises, Neolth’s experts guide you through the practice via audio instructions. Another activity available in the app is journaling, making it simple and easy to try that suggestion. Neolth has also been designed to benefit students specifically, and with our busy schedules, the activities are all short and easy to complete. With the understanding of our overwhelming everyday activities, there’s even a self-help activities calendar feature, and it’s extremely efficient to schedule your own activities to help you uncover repressed emotions.
Neolth makes mental health a priority –- keeping us happy and healthy. The next time someone asks “How are you?”, let’s all have another answer besides “Oh, I’m good.”
At Neolth, we’re on a mission to help students stress less, build resilience, and become part of our compassionate community. Our app helps students when they're feeling overwhelmed with self-guided content, personalized for their mental health journey. Neolth has a growing community of Student Ambassadors from 170 schools and works with schools to improve access to mental health support for their students. The company has won multiple awards for its app, including the 2020 Startup of the Year EdTech Award and the 2021 Tech for Good Timmy Award, San Francisco finalist. Learn more:
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