Healthy Range of Emotions: The Practical Side

This week I was listening to a lecture on anxiety and the speaker talked about “optimal anxiety.” Now, when I first hear the word “anxiety” I do not feel warm and fuzzy. However, the speaker stated there is a healthy form of anxiety that motivates people to successfully accomplish difficult tasks and this is “optimal anxiety.” This “healthy anxiety” can help you succeed at things like completing a big project, planning a large event, starting a new job or embracing a dramatic life change well (for example, marriage/partnership or parenthood). This is the opposite of anxiety that inhibits you from doing things—think fear of flying or fear of bridges.

Thinking about how anxiety can be used for good got me thinking about other emotions that ordinarily have a bad reputation and their positive (often hidden) potential. Fear (in dangerous situations) can keep us safe. Anger (expressed appropriately) can defend and protect ourselves and others. Doubt can be an intuition that something is “not right” which works to keep us safe.

Feelings—even strong feelings like anger, anxiety and grief—are not inherently bad. What is important is how we act and think in connection with our feelings. **As a safety measure I must add here that some feelings require immediate therapeutic and/or medical intervention. For example, if you are feeling suicidal or homicidal you should seek emergency help right away. Or if you are overcome with feelings of depression, anxiety or grief you should make an appointment with a trained licensed mental health counselor as soon as possible.

Having said that, overall, emotions are not the enemy. I have talked to so many clients who state that growing up no one in their family ever really talked about their emotions. If a family member passed away they all felt sad, but didn’t say much. Or, if they were moving across the country no one brought up how they were feeling about such a major life change. Emotions were not identified, talked about or processed and this gave the impression that feelings were bad.

Other clients share that they grew up in families where emotions ran wild. People yelled and threw things, cried dramatically without appearing able to stop or grieved in unhealthy ways when someone passed. Neither of these types of families knew what a “healthy range of emotions” means and they certainly did not practice sharing their feelings in healthy and appropriate ways. 

In the next blog on this topic I will outline what a “healthy range of emotions” looks like and how to tell when you might need to “reset” your emotional health. But for now, ask yourself…Are you feeling overly emotional lately? Are your feelings negatively impacting your daily life roles? Are you having trouble at work or school or in your close relationships because of emotional stress? If so, a warm, empathic and trained psychotherapist can help you get back on track. She can teach you what a healthy range of emotions looks like and how to navigate your life stressors while maintaining the highest level of emotional health possible. If you are struggling please don’t hesitate to make an appointment. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862.


Yolanda Brailey