How Well Is Your Family Dealing With Their Emotions?

A massive part of having a healthy and enjoyable family life is ensuring that everybody has the skill to deal with emotions both positive and negative, in a healthy way. However, as emotions can be both robust and unpleasant, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it can be easy for family members to turn to maladaptive coping mechanisms that cause more harm than good. Obviously, this is not something that you want to allow your family to get in the habit of, so read on to find out more about healthy and the not so healthy ways of dealing with emotions that are common. So, then you can guide your family towards the former and help them avoid the latter.




As we all know eating is an essential part of our lives, we need to consume healthy food to fuel and nourish our bodies, especially if we are under emotional stress. So eating a balanced, healthy diet including things like almonds and oranges and other items that are known to be calming, is definitely something that we should be encouraging our family to do.


However, family members can use eating as a coping mechanism for their emotional troubles, and this can lead to problems later on. They do this by eating in response to negative feelings and emotions. They don’t open up to really feel these and let go of them, but try and push them away by replacing them with a pleasurable sensation. In this case eating.

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Often when family members use eating to cope with their emotions, they can be drawn to consuming things that are less than healthy. Things that include a high level of sugar salt and fat. They can also eat compulsively in response to negative emotions instead of hunger signals, something that leads to a damaged relationship with food. As well as weight gain and the associated health issues, comfort eating or eating a feeling down is something you will want to help your family avoid wherever possible.


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To do this ensure that you don’t resort to food when comforting the kids when they are little, or keeping them quiet when you have an errand to run. As this can reinforce the relationship between diet and suppression of emotion, leading to problems later on.




A potent tool for coping with intense emotions is exercise. This can work wonders, as it gives it to the family member dealing with an emotional state the chance release, instead of pushing it down. Added benefits include increased physical fitness when practiced regularly, an almost instant improvement in mood, and if taking part in team sports; a connection with others that can help contextualize the problem. Sometimes leading to the realization that is was, perhaps not as bad as they first thought.


Obviously, in general, exercise is an adaptive way of dealing with emotional stress, and because there is such a wide range of activities to pick from. Meaning it is possible to find exercises that help expel anxiety, fear, and anger like running, football and boxing. As well as gentle activities that are designed more for introspection and exploring difficult emotions such as sadness and grief, like yoga.

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Remember though, that the idea is to allow the feelings to remain, and work through them with the exercise. Don’t use the training to push things away. Instead, acknowledge they are there and return your focus to the game or sport you are playing.



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Smoking is definitely a maladaptive coping mechanism for dealing with emotions.

It may be that you or your partner are engaged in this habit, or it could even be that the kids are experimenting with it. Something you will, no doubt be keen to dissuade them from as it has well-documented effects on the body that can lead to a serious health problem such as asthma, COPD,  and even an increased risk of cancer.


Unfortunately, family members that are smoking are likely to be linking the habit to being able to cope emotionally, so much so that many smokers believe that they can’t keep calm without their regular dose of nicotine. But is this really the case? No, it’s an illusion because no- smokers get through their day all the time! Of course, it’s good for a family member struggling with a smoking addition to having this in the back of their mind, but just knowing this fact is unlikely to be enough to cause them to quit. Instead, it’s important to reduce the current risk to their health by getting them to cut down as much as possible.


To do this, why not suggest that they use nicotine replacement therapy? This is when they still have access to the addictive component of nicotine, but the additional chemicals that are linked to disease are removed. There are several ways of accessing this such as through lozenges and patches, and now even though vaping.


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Vaping is similar to smoking. Although instead of using real cigarettes it uses an electronic device that vaporizes nicotine into the water to make it seem similar to smoking a cigarette. Gradually, by using this, or other nicotine replacement methods the family member can reduce the nicotine strength they are smoking. Meaning that not only are they giving up all the chemicals that are dangerous, but they also have the chance to wean themselves from nicotine itself.


It’s also worth noting that there is some pretty advanced vaping equipment out there that you can buy like these Vapor Essence attachments, that are available online. These can be useful because they allow you to tailor your experience to one that you find most satisfying. By doing this, you reduce the risk of going back to real cigarettes and exposing yourself to the danger that these bring.


Alone Time


Time alone is also an important factor when dealing with emotions for both adults and children. It can help them become more centered, stop and listen to what is going through our minds, and actually tune in to how they feel. Also, some folks process their emotions best when they are alone (introverts), so that is why it’s essential that family members like this get enough time alone to do so. In this way, alone time can be a constructive and healthy mechanism for members of your family to deal with their emotions.



However, it is also important to watch out for the difference between alone time and isolation. Isolation is not an adaptive way of dealing with emotional issues. In fact, it can often point to the fact that the emotions themselves have become overwhelming and the person suffering them is fighting against them or has shut down completely. It’s also an indicator of mental health conditions like depression. So if you feel that your loved one isn’t getting the alone time balance right, it’s best to talk this through with them and offer them some support.


To do this you may suggest that you go out for lunch together, giving them a change of scene, but not overwhelming them with a large group of people. It can be hard at first, particularly since many teenagers go through a phase of wanting to only be in their own company, and different people need different amounts of time alone to function at their best. Just do your best to keep a line of communication open and show that you are there for them. Even if you feel a little rejected, that they don’t want to spend every waking minute with you.




Another more adaptive coping technique for strong emotions is to keep a journal. Many adults and children do this, and it can be an excellent way of getting things that are running around in your brain out and letting them go. In fact, Maud Purcell suggests it’s one of the best coping mechanism when going through a rough patch.

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To do this effectively, it helps to set a particular time of day to write in your journal. You can use a paper one, or keep one on your phone with a journaling app.


Although you do remember that privacy is a major issue when a family member keeps a journal, especially if you are encouraging your kids to do this as a way of helping them cope with their emotions. To deal with this effectively it best to be open from the start and say that you may read it to check in with how they are doing. Emphasize that this can make it easier for them to discuss when something bothering them without having to have a direct conversation about it. Just don’t promise to never read it and then do so as this will betray their trust.


When it’s another adult is best to allow them their own privacy and trust them to come to you with anything that they want to discuss. After all, our emotional world is our own, and it’s likely we would expect to be given the same treatment if we were writing a journal.  


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