From the work of Van Der Kock and others, the suggestion is to allow the feelings to “be there”. Feel their impact. You will not go crazy. You might feel like you have trouble focusing on your usual tasks, but if you don’t focus on your inner feelings, you miss a huge part of yourself!
When there is nothing urgent to deal with and you are with a trusted friend or on your own in a safe place, allow yourself to feel however it is you are feeling. Don’t judge the feeling as if it doesn’t belong. It does belong. It belongs to you. The feeling is a part of you.
The part of you that generates feeling like you’re stress come from the “sympathetic nervous system”. This is the system that tries to avoid talking about the stress and evokes sympathy from others when those avoided feelings are let out. The energy outlay involved in talking about what’s stressing you usually calms us. But if you don’t “go there” to where those stressed out feelings are, they tend to build. The sympathetic nervous system needs an outlet.
There are two things to do that provide an outlet. One is running away (literally, physically running away!). The other is fighting (physically, literally, having a fight). Some couples have told me about arguments that involved one of them leaving the home. Arguing is one kind of physical fight. It carries a physical outlay of energy. So does leaving. Leaving the home involves a physical act.
The one mode that doesn’t give us that physical outlet is freezing, getting stuck in the mud of the stress, without exploring how that mud got to be – well – mud. Bottom-line: the physical stuff tends to calm the nervous system responsible for stress and lets the other one, the calming side, take over.
Psychological counselling can help provide a safe place to focus on the feelings that are needing an outlet and keep coming up, making life muddy, and causing stress that can’t be released any other way. Psychological counselling can also give you the skills to calm yourself outside the counselling office, in your life going forward.