Surprise Hygiene

Surprise is a unique emotion, and although many people relate it to happiness or fear, it is in a special category of its own. Surprise is the WOW emotion, and it is most directly associated with what we call spirituality.

There’s so much variety to the surprise category of emotions, from amazement, wonder, or awe, to excitement or shock, and it also includes the feeling of entertainment. Unfortunately, it’s easier now than ever to be emotionally numbed in a state of staying mildly entertained, which can undermine our capacity to feel the expansiveness of true wonder and amazement. Maybe now is a good time to turn off YouTube for today and try some surprise hygiene practices?

Surprise Hygiene Ideas:

  • Slow down. Stop and smell flowers.
  • Go somewhere to stargaze
  • Sit by the ocean and watch the waves
  • Take intentional breaks from scrolling

Fear Hygiene

Fear can feel like one of the most uncomfortable emotions, but it is also one of our most basic instincts, and our fiercest protector. Getting in touch with our feelings of fear can seem overwhelming, but we often find freedom when we befriend our fear.

Remember that when we are feeling anxiety, it is a physical response to a perceived threat (either from the past, or about the future). It’s important to remind ourselves that we are here today because our bodies know how to get us through fear, and we can trust our instincts to protect us in the case of present danger. Fearful emotions range from uncertainty and nervousness, to anxiety, dread, and terror. The physical sensations of feeling afraid can include: shaking or trembling, sweating, clammy hands, shortness of breath, a strong desire to run away, increased heart rate, and even hyperventilation. When you feel any of these physical sensations it can serve as an indication that it’s time to practice some fear hygiene.

Fear Hygiene Ideas:

  • Observe your surroundings using your 5 senses
  • Take some deep breaths
  • Move your body – shake it out!
  • Be curious. Is this anxiety about the past, or the future?
  • Ground yourself in the present moment

Disgust Hygiene

Disgust emotions (shame, envy, jealousy, etc.) feel icky and uncomfortable, which is why we need extra practice letting it run through our bodies. Shame hygiene is hard, but we’re here to give some tips about how to get all that stuck energy moving.

In highly social creatures, like humans, the disgust category of emotions is much more nuanced, including tricky feelings like shame, judgement, guilt, jealousy, and envy. When these emotions arise, many people push down the associated physical sensations because they can feel so unpleasant. The experience of disgust can feel like nausea, indigestion, movement up the esophagus, an impulse to hide, lowering the eyes or face to look at the ground, a need to crumple into the fetal position, or even vomiting. As awful as it can seem, all of these responses are natural and healthy. And with a regular practice of disgust hygiene we can keep those feelings from compounding in our bodies.

Disgust Hygiene Ideas:

  • Reach out to a trusted friend
  • Compassionate eye contact with yourself in a mirror
  • Deep exhale with a “ha-” sound
  • Make a face with your tongue out
  • Arch your back and cough

Happiness Hygiene

Happiness is that feel-good feeling that many people spend their whole life in pursuit of. However, in this video we want to explore how seeking pleasure and happiness can actually undermine our capacity to authentically feel happy. It’s a bit of a paradox.

When we suppress any of our emotions, we subtly suppress all of our emotions, including happiness. Contrary to popular belief, lots of what people call “self care” is actually happiness hygiene. True self care includes caring for all of our emotions, not just the happy ones. Happy emotions range from feeling chill, open, or calm, to experiencing connection or inspiration, all the way up to the mountaintops of ecstasy or bliss. As we reframe how we think about happiness, we can feel more centred and grounded, and less like we need to constantly chase good feelings.

Happiness Hygiene Ideas:

  • Take random emotional check-ins. How do I feel now?
  • Dance, move your body, shoot some hoops, etc.
  • Listen to music
  • Create something
  • Practice letting go of happiness when it’s time to move on
  • Call someone and share some joy

Anger Hygiene

Anger feels like fire or electricity in the body, and it just wants to come out! So many people are afraid of anger because we weren’t ever taught what to do with it or how to proactively release it. This video explores how to connect with one of your most powerful emotions — anger!

Sometimes it can be scary to connect with anger, especially if we’ve experienced the harm that can be caused when people have lashed out at us. Many of us also know what it feels like to have uncontrollable, explosive bursts of rage, whether they stay bottled up inside or get unleashed on the world around us. However, there are lots of different ways that anger manifests, from boredom, frustration and irritability, to resentment and rage.

As we connect with anger it helps us set boundaries, it protects us, and it gives us information about our needs. When our bodies feel ready to fight, or when we feel clenched tension, or any other physical signs of activation, that’s a great opportunity to choose a hygiene practice and let it move through.

Anger Hygiene Ideas:

  • Go for a run
  • Scream into a pillow
  • Punch a mattress or punching bag
  • Play a contact sport
  • Call a trusted friend to vent or rant
  • Stomp your feet
  • Write it out (put pen to paper) and burn it!

Sadness Hygiene

Sadness is such a misunderstood emotion, and it’s time to give grief the love it deserves. Many people think of sadness as a “negative” emotion, when in fact, it can be a “positive” counterbalance to happiness. Where happiness lets us feel the heights of the emotional experience, sadness reveals the depths of our love and capacity for connection.

Sometimes sadness can feel like an inexhaustible ocean, and as we begin to dive into the depths of grief it can feel overwhelming, so go slow. Take your time as you explore uncharted waters. There’s a wide range of sad emotions, from feeling blue or melancholic, to feeling loneliness, grief and despair. When we feel like we could cry, or when we feel grief weighing heavy in the chest, or when any of the sad feelings arise in our bodies it’s a perfect opportunity to practice sadness hygiene.

Sadness Hygiene Ideas:

  • Hug yourself (or someone else)
  • Cuddle up with a heavy blanket
  • Listen to sad music or watch a sad movie.
  • Read some poetry
  • Call a friend or family member to share

Emotional Hygiene

Why do we feel emotions, and what can we do when they grow too big? We’re exploring the sensations of emotions in our bodies, and looking at some simple practices and new patterns for dealing with emotions.

It’s time to get in touch with the full spectrum of human emotion and to begin practicing some emotional hygiene. Just like how we floss and brush our teeth daily, bathe regularly, and care for our physical bodies, there are ways to connect with our emotions so that they can flow through and not get trapped inside. We look at how the constant pursuit of happiness or surprise actually undermines our holistic wellbeing, and on the flipside, how repressing fear, anger, disgust or sadness keeps those feelings locked up in our bodies.

All emotions exist to give us information and to help us make quick decisions to keep us safe. When we learn to listen to emotions as natural biological responses, we have more tools at our disposal to have more ease in relationships and to feel more balanced in ourselves.