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Healthy Emotional Self-Care Other than taking care of ourselves physically, self-care is also about caring for ourselves emotionally. When feeling sad, do you quickly seek to find something that could put the smile back on your face or at least end the sadness as soon as possible? When you’re angry and a friend or family member asks you what you are upset about, do you brush off the anger and reply, “Nothing”? Or do you choose to be silent or become critical? Have you found yourself avoiding uncomfortable emotions by engaging in trivial distractions such as Tweeting, surfing Facebook, cleaning, staying busy? Do you hold back and suppress your emotions or find yourself taking them out on your partner, family, or friends? How about feeling chronically stuck in the same emotions (e.g. anger, sadness, anxiety)? One of the fundamental ways to caring for our emotional self is to be aware of our feelings. We can do this by first being attentive to our feelings when they arise and to acknowledge them. It is healthy to accept our feelings as they come, instead of belittling ourselves for having them. This is opposed to what many of us have learnt, or have been taught to do—to suppress or put aside our emotions, especially the “negative” ones. It is crucial to know that there are no “good” or “bad” feelings. Feelings are neither “positive” nor “negative”. Feelings show us what our needs are in each moment. The central theme in taking care of our emotional self is to allow ourselves to experience them and then to release them in safe and healthy ways.

Here are some healthy ways of releasing our emotions:

1. Dialogue You can do this with a trusted friend, mentor, counselor or therapist, whom you can safely share your emotional troubles with. He or she should be able to hold a safe and empathic space for you to fully relate your problems and facilitate healthy ways of releasing your emotions. Having a dialogue about your problems and your feelings is not akin to merely talking, complaining, or griping to a friend about the problem.

2. Writing This includes writing in a journal, crafting unsent letters, composing poetry etc. Some people pen down their frustrations and unpleasant experiences then release them further by burning the words and flushing them down the toilet. However we do it, writing provides an avenue for our experiences to get some air-time, some recognition. When our feelings and emotional responses to the related situations are acknowledged, they are less likely to intensely weigh down on us.


3. Expressive art

5. Breathing

Sometimes, it can be hard to find the words to express how we feel. Drawing, painting, clay sculpting, or making a collage can be creative alternatives to expressing those emotions we have difficulty putting into words. The purpose is not to produce a winning piece of art but to use colours, shades, hues and textures (i.e. thick or thin strokes of paint or crayon, sculptured patterns) to represent the emotions you feel inside.

Our breath is the most important thing to us. It is the vital energy that keeps us alive. It is the very first thing we did when we were born! Forgetting to breathe may sound silly because we so often take for granted our breathing, but many times, when we are caught in provoking situations that trigger uncomfortable emotions, our bodies naturally withhold our breaths. Taking slow, gentle, deep breaths can help to facilitate the flow of emotions. When in doubt, just breathe‌.

4. Sound and Music

6. Movement

Releasing emotions by vocally making a noise or sound can help. Sighing, for example, is an especially helpful way of releasing emotional tensions in our bodies. Crying with grief, screaming in the car, or growling loudly, are other examples of using vocal sounds to release emotions.

Moving can help release emotional tensions in our bodies. This includes taking a walk, dancing, exercising, playing a sport, drumming, or punching a pillow. These are not the same as walking, exercising, and playing a sport for the purpose of recreation or getting fit. Neither is it for the purpose of distracting yourself from experiencing the uncomfortable emotions. These movements serve to facilitate the experiencing and releasing of our pent-up emotions.

Listening to music to help release emotions is not to be mistaken with using music to distract yourself from experiencing the uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes, we may feel heavy-hearted or numb and find it difficult to release the emotional tension. Listening to appropriate music that helps trigger the emotional experience, thus releasing the “stuck� emotion, can be very cathartic.


Breaking-up and Getting Through It

Unwanted or unexpected break-ups can be one of the hardest processes to go through, very much like coping with the death of a loved one. In going through a break-up, you can expect to experience the stages of grief. Here are some suggestions to help you move through grief to acceptance, in time.

Breaking up can be painful, even excruciating. It can feel like you’re a pendulum—swinging from being big-hearted and understanding to being a raging woman with a vengeance. But the roller-coaster ride does not have to be so bad if we understand that these physical, emotional and mental responses are normal. Sometimes, these feelings can last from a few minutes to a few hours. However, because they can be so intense, we may think they have come to stay for good. Remembering that our feelings will come and go can help us cope a little better. We may not know how long we need to grief for but it is not healthy to remain stuck in the same experience(s) of sadness, anger, confusion, or unacceptance of the breakup. The important thing is that you honour your feelings and treat yourself with patience and gentleness.

At this stage, it would be a good time to fall back on those resources that helptobuild your self-esteem. a list of positive Allow yourself move from shock toCreate acceptance, in time. affirmations about yourself and your future. Begin the statements Remind yourself daily that you will get through it and this with “I am…” or “I have…”. Do not include statements related to grieving is a natural and healthy process. being back with your ex in this list.


5 Stages of Grief in Break-ups 1. Shock / Denial “What?! This can’t be happening!” This is usually the first stage of grieving. When you realise your relationship has ended, it can feel very sudden and shocking. This loss can be overwhelming. It may make no sense to you and life may suddenly become meaningless. Denial is our way of helping us survive this initial shock and pain. Denial helps to pace our feelings of grief by allowing us only as much of the news and pain we can handle. Give yourself time to calm down. When the reality of the break-up starts to sink in, you may start to ask questions and all the feelings you had been denying may start to surface. You would then have unknowingly begun your healing process.

2. Anger “I hate you for hurting me so badly!” Anger is a natural and necessary stage of the healing process. Underneath anger lay many other emotions in response to the break-up. If you honour your feelings and allow yourself to feel them even though they may seem scary or endless, they will dissipate in time. Feeling anger during a break-up is natural, not wrong.

However, it can extend to not just your ex-partner but even to your family, friends, and even yourself. Hence, it is important to accept that you are feeling angry, allow yourself to experience it and then learn to release it in healthy, constructive ways. Feeling the anger and then writing or talking about it are just a couple of healthy ways to help release feelings of anger. Find other healthy ways that work for you in dealing with the anger.

3. Bargaining “What can I do for us to be together again?” This is the stage where we can become lost in questions such as, “What if…”, “If only…” or “I should have…”. We want things to return to what it was, for our partner to be back in our lives again. We think about what we could have done differently or about earlier warning signs that we could have heeded to prevent the breakup. Guilt often accompanies the bargaining. To absolve the guilt, we may tend to bargain and negotiate with our ex or ourselves (i.e. be more of a certain way, less of another, etc.). However, these are actually our attempts to make the guilt and pain of the break-up go away.


4. Depression

5. Acceptance

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over her.”

“I understand now why we got together and why we’re not anymore. I am going to be fine and I can move on.”

Usually after bargaining, we move right into the present moment, where the emptiness and grief really sink to a deeper level. It can sometimes feel so grave that it seems impossible to climb back out into the light. It is important to note that at this stage, feeling sad, or even mildly depressed, is a completely natural response to the break-up. You may even feel aches and pains that accompany these feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and deep sadness. Allow yourself to experience them as this is part of the grieving and healing process. To heal from the pain of the break-up is to allow these feelings to penetrate you fully, then releasing and letting them go. However, it is also important to keep doing things that help pick yourself up. Continue engaging in your social and daily activities. Take walks, soak up the sun, do small things for yourself that make you happy. Avoid using unhealthy behaviours like drinking, binge-eating, or promiscuity to cope with the pain.

Acceptance is that point where you begin to feel more like yourself again, ready to move forward. Finally, you get to appreciate the sun once again! At this stage, you come to realise what the relationship meant, what you have learnt about yourself, and what the future can bring. Reach out and be involved with family and friends. We cannot replace our ex-partners but we can develop new meaningful relationships and make new connections. It will be helpful to remember that we do not cycle through the stages of grief in a linear fashion. Often, you may find yourself jumping from one to another, then perhaps back to the first again. All these back and forth reactions can make you feel like you are not moving forward. However, every small step towards caring for yourself through the grief is a positive one. Acknowledge the experience and then bring yourself back to the more positive present. Just keep taking care of yourself as you move forward and upward in your life!


Giving Emotional Support Watching a friend or family member struggle through difficult situations, and not being able to help can be hard. Having the ability to provide the support they need for them to get through their rough patch can be very nourishing for both parties. Enabling them to feel safe and comfortable with you is a helpful start to being an effective emotional support.

2. Be respectful

1. Listen

3. Validate their experience

Give them your undivided attention. Listen from the heart with genuine care and concern. Consciously relax yourself so that it helps set a frame for them to feel relaxed as well. Face them and make gentle eye-contact when they are sharing. Appropriate nods and “uh-huhs” can be encouragers for them to know you are listening and that they are being heard. Refrain from interrupting them. Only ask relevant questions when there is a pause long enough for you to do so.

Acknowledge their emotional reactions toward the situation. Validating their feelings facilitates their ability to accept and let go or resolve the problem, in their own time. Telling them that they should not feel the way they do or to minimise their troubles (e.g. “It’s not as bad as you think it is, you’ll get over it in no time.”) are not helpful ways of being supportive. But validating how they feel is not the same as agreeing—because your emotional response to the situation may be different. To validate them is to understand how the situation is affecting them.

Let them know that you are available should they want to talk. Allow them the space to process their feelings. We all go through our difficulties in different ways and at different paces. Remember how important it was for your friend to walk alongside you when you were going through a rough patch? Similarly, support them wherever they may be in their process. It is not helpful to aggressively or anxiously insist for them to feel differently or to move on sooner than they are ready to.


4. Be objective

7. Set healthy boundaries for yourself

Agreeing with how equally upset you are with their situation does not help them feel better. In fact, it usually serves to intensify their feelings toward the problem. Furthermore, remember that the problem is important only to them; it is not about how it affects you. Remain as objective as you can. Being lost in your own emotional responses to their problem leaves them with one less support. You would not want them to end up supporting you instead or feel bad for sharing their problems with you.

Giving yourself permission to step back and take care of your own needs is just as important as providing support to your friend and family. Practicing self-awareness is crucial in order for you to know and understand your limits. For example, acknowledging your own emotional needs and allowing yourself some time away can prevent exhaustion or a build-up of resentment.

5. Encourage them to express their emotions People often relate the details about their problem, what they think about it and what they feel like doing about it. These do not tell you much about how they actually feel about the problem. When they are able to identify and label what they are actually feeling, emotional tensions in their bodies can more easily be released. This helps them feel a lot better. You may also like to encourage them to think of other creative ways to release their emotional stress. Some examples include writing, drawing, singing, or exercising.

6. Positive affirmations When they are feeling slightly better, encouraging them to create a self-love list can help build their self-esteem. The list can include things they are grateful for or positive acknowledging statements about themselves and their achievements.

Knowing when professional support is appropriate is not just an act of caring for yourself but a healthy way of caring for your friend or family member. Look out for significant mood or behavioural changes in them. Being familiar with the signs of moderate to severe depression as well as risky self-harming behaviours can enable you to seek the appropriate help for them when needed. Also, be willing to seek support for yourself when you need it. We are unable to be of support if we do not first take care of ourselves.


LGBTQ-friendly resources Oogachaga Counselling and Support Hotline: 6226 2002 (Tues to Thurs 7pm - 10pm, Sat 2pm - 6pm) Email Counselling: www.oogachaga.com/care Address: 41a Mosque Street S(059519) Admin Tel: 6224 9373 (10am – 6pm) Email: contact@oogachaga.com Website: www.oogachaga.com, and www.congregaytion.sg Oogachaga is a counselling and personal development organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. Association of Women Action and Research (AWARE) Helpline: 1800-774-5935 (Mon to Fri 3pm – 9.30pm) Address: 5 Dover Crescent #01-22, S(130005) Tel: 6779 7137 Email: aware@aware.org.sg AWARE provides information and support for women who are in distress or at a time of uncertainty in their lives.

CHAT: Youth Mental Wellness Address: SCAPE, 2 Orchard Link #05-05 S(237978) Tel: 6493 6500 / 6501 Email: chat@youthinmind.sg Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) is a youth-centric mental health advocacy programme in Singapore. The team runs an online website as well as CHAT Hub, youth drop in centre in *SCAPE in Orchard Road. CHAT Hub operates Tuesdays to Sundays from 12.00pm to 9.00pm, excluding Mondays and Public Holidays. Counselling and Care Centre Address: 536 Upper Cross Street, #05-241, Hong Lim Complex S(050536) Tel: 6536 6366 Email: info@counsel.org.sg Counselling and Care Centre is an LGBTQ-friendly agency that offers counseling services. Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) 24hr Hotline: 1800-221-4444 Email Befriending Service: pat@samaritans.org.sg Address: 10 Cantonment Close, #01-01, S(080010) SOS is a non-profit organisation which provides 24-hour confidential emotional support to individuals in crises.

DSC Women's Clinic Address: Level 2, 31 Kelantan Lane, S(200031) Make an appointment: call 62939648 or email apptdsc@nsc.gov.sg Women's Clinic Business Hours: Wednesday 8am to 11am Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 1pm to 4pm DSC (Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control) Clinic is a specialist outpatient clinic for the diagnosis, treatment and control of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Singapore. The women's clinic specially provides comprehensive screening, effective treatment of STI/STDs, management of other genital conditions, vaccinations for Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, pap smear and also confidential counseling.


Women’s Social Groups Beat Around the Bush

http://www.beataroundthebush.org/

The community for gay women in Singapore is large but quiet...'Beat Around The Bush' aims to bring all alternative style to one place and share something other than the weekly schedule.

Acknowledgements Sayoni http://www.sayoni.com/ A popular online forum for lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women based in Singapore and also carries LGBTQ news. Sayoni has published a coming out guide in 2011.

Herstory http://www.herstory.ws/ An online space for lesbian, bisexual and transgender to exchange ideas, share experiences, make friends, while discussing and reading interesting content. They also organise monthly parties for like minded womyn, every second Thursday or Saturday of the month at Zouk, The Butter Factory or Bar None.

Women’s Nite

Redqueen! http://redqueensg.blogspot.com/ A general and social mailing list for lesbian and bisexual women in Singapore. RedQueen! is intended to be a fun, friendly and supportive list and includes everything from humour to serious discussion.

The Two Queens Party http://www.twoqueens.me/ A community hub specially for women and provide a quality lifestyle for its members. Weekly parties on every Thursday and the last Sunday of every month.

With special thanks to: Ms Lynn Soh Psychologist (SRP), Ms Nur Khairunisa Ngaiman, Youth Support Worker (CHAT), and the OCW team of volunteers.

http://women-snite.livejournal.com http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wom en_snite/

A safe, neutral and alcohol-free space for lesbian and bisexual women in Singapore to gather and discuss the issues relevant to their lives. These gatherings are scheduled on the last Saturday of every month.

A listing of other LGBTQ resources are available on: http://www.oogachaga.com/congregaytion/website/services

A PDF version of this guide is available on http://www.oogachaga.com/congregaytion/website/detail/13 Please contact us at contact@oogachaga.com if more printed copies are required. Disclaimer: The information contained in this guide is a compilation of information intended to be utilised as a reference and resource material only. Oogachaga makes no representation, warranty or endorsement, expressed or implied, as to any information contained in the guide. Similarly, the listing of any person or organisation in any part of this directory does not imply any form of endorsement by Oogachaga of the products or services provided by that person or organisation. The listing of website addresses provided by the organisations do not constitute an endorsement of any material found on those sites or any linked sites or of any associated organisations, products or services listed on any of those sites. Oogachaga expresses no view as to the appropriateness or accuracy of information available on these websites or their links. Readers are urged to exercise their own judgment and discretion in visiting any website or link to a website, and in making use of any information contained therein.


Self Care in Emotional Crisis