3 Healthy Ways to Get Up from an Emotional Hangover
Photo by the amazingly talented Claire Corbin*
I have a lot of feelings in any given moment.
Hi, my name’s Christine. You may know what I’m talking about when I say, “I ride the emotional roller coaster” on the daily— heck, you may be in the seat beside me. I’ve had hundreds of conversations with women in coffeeshops, over the phone and even at the gym, and I’ve realized it’s much more common than we like to disclose.
I’ll be real with you. Some days go downhill before my feet hit the floor. We may notice little imperfections, like the ever-growing laundry pile or sleeping in too long to be productive; but they just exaggerate the problem because there are bigger, more concentrated stressors. Like a depleting bank account and conflict with someone you love (but kinda’ of want to rip their head off…). Some days, we feel powerless to grab the day by its shoulders, look it square in the eyes and hit the restart button. After all, we are human and our lives doesn’t resemble the perfectly curated Instagram feed everyone sees…
Have you woken up the morning after so many emotions, stress and relational turbulence that you aren’t really sure what to do with yourself? Your emotional capacity reached its limit and it broke a fuse. It’s like someone hit the off-switch to your ability to function, think and empathize.
This, friend, is what I call an emotional hangover.
But hold up— you’re the boss babe, the girl who knows she isn’t defined by her weakness and that people actually look up to, right?! So why are you feeling all the guilt, shame and uncertainty? Is today just going to be a repeat? Do I tell someone? Do I sit in my shame or do I pretend it never happened?
I’ve spent many days in the hazy confusion of, “how do I get up and get going?” I know what it’s like to feel helpless in getting myself unstuck. Hear me—I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t feel our emotions or stuff them down. That isn’t healthy or healing, girl. Instead, I’ve learned to engage three healthy and intentional ways to help me get back up in strength and see the truth.
1. Learn to apply compassion and grace – to yourself.
As women, we are so good at loving others well. We use the kindest words and sit with others in their pain, but how do we speak to ourselves? Our inner self-talk is brutal. We’d never speak to a friend that way, so why do we bypass the filter for ourselves?
Self-compassion is a posture we need to learn. There’s no shame in this—in fact, you need to consciously choose to apply grace in order to actually start changing the way you think. Emotional hangovers are real, but how we respond and react to them is our responsibility. You have one of two choices: talk yourself down and drown in shame or speak lovingly to your heart and extend yourself some grace.
One practical way I practice self-compassion is by engaging curiosity instead of judgement. Why did I react so strongly to that conflict yesterday? What heart-triggers were pulled on? How can I love that part of me? What can I give myself right now?
2. Choose to process – eating your feelings is cheap therapy.
How do you start unravelling the answers to your questions? If you’re new to the process—which is totally okay—it can seem daunting. I’m not going to prescribe a specific method because self-discovery and mindfulness are personal journeys, but I will tell you that it matters.
See, coping isn’t bad in the same way that band-aids aren’t. They serve a dutiful, short-term purpose. But when you’re in need of heart surgery and all you’re doing is applying more and more band-aids to your chest, you’re delaying the healing and causing more harm long-term. Having been in counseling, unscrambling the pieces of my story, childhood dynamics and how I’ve internalized it all—takes time. Choosing health can be painful, but it’s worth it.
There’s no blueprint, friend. So, whether it’s talking to a trusted friend, role model or counsellor (or all of the above)— don’t do it alone. Isolation wreaks havoc to our inner worlds.
3. Be known among people who love you – face to face.
This past summer I finally broke down and let others really know me. I have a history of battling mental health issues, but I don’t let it define me. Yeah, that’s heroic and all— until I don’t even let those closest to me in on the fact.
This isn’t about processing— it’s about being found. It’s about being vulnerable and belonging. Girl, you are so worth being known in your quirks and messiness. Trust me, you aren’t the only one with crazy thoughts or irrational fears. Put the phone down and ask someone to go for coffee. Be found in community. There are people out there who will lift you up when you can’t snap out of it because you’re feeling so much shame and dread.
Let me be clear—I’m not saying you should scrap your long-distance friendships or online communities. They do add richness to our lives. But being able to be tangibly held and looked at in the eyes is connection at its truest level. Build from that foundation.
To the girl who can’t seem to find belonging or community— I see you. But this will not be your forever-story. My challenge to you is to take a vulnerable step and let your heart be seen by one person. Then two, then three…
I’ll leave you with a story— I experienced crazy social anxiety a few summers back. I followed this one girl on Instagram and stalked her for a few weeks before sheepishly walking up to her one morning at church, telling her she was awesome and asked if we could be friends. In those words. Two years later, she’s one of my closest friends and sees my heart so freakin’ well. I had no idea— walking up to her, quite literally shaking— the health, redemption and joy that would come from our friendship.
Take courage, babe. And have hope. You have it in you to be whole, brave and full of life.
Christine is twenty-something coffee-and-vibes enthusiast who comes alive sitting across women, hearing their stories and journeying with them towards health and self-discovery. She firmly believes in the beauty of process, community and finding true belonging. When she’s not writing, engaging creativity or coaching women, you’ll probably find Christine geeking out over her plants or snuggled in a corner reading or listening to personal development podcasts.