Most of us can easily identify and describe feeling “happy”, “sad” or “angry”. However, as the St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals mental health team describes, there are a vast array of human emotions which change frequently and are sometimes difficult to explain.
In fact, it’s estimated that each human experiences around 34,000 different emotions!
There are many factors which will influence our emotions day to day. These include: getting enough sleep, stress from work or family life, loss, change and uncertainty, receiving praise or recognition, and spending time with the people we love and care for.
Feelings and emotions can be difficult to understand and describe, often we just can’t find the right words to describe how we are feeling to others. When we recognise our own emotions we can improve our self-awareness and be equipped to discuss our mental wellbeing with others and seek help or assistance when needed.
‘The Wheel of Emotions’ is a helpful tool initially developed by Psychologist Robert Plutchik.
Below is an example of an adaption of Plutchik’s colour wheel identifying six primary emotions where all other emotions and feelings stem from. The six primary emotions include:
How to use ‘The Wheel of Emotions’
This simple tool can help you understand and put a name to the emotions you are experiencing.
The wheel is divided into three layers with the darkest colours allocated to the “most intense” emotions and the lightest colours to the “less intense” emotions.
Firstly, select which of the central emotions resonates with how you are currently feeling. Move outwards through the wheel and identify if you can connect with the adjectives within the same colour group. This may help you identify what is prompting or causing you to have the strong central emotions.
For example, you might recognise a strong “sad” emotion. Then when looking at the adjectives in the second layer you may identify with feeling “bored” and “lonely”, within the third layer you might identify as feeling “apathetic”.
When you can understand what is causing your “strong” emotions. For example the sadness may be caused by loneliness and boredom then you can address the issue and take action to shift and improve your feelings. This could be through reaching out and making social connections, joining a gym, walking or sports group, music or craft sessions or anything which is of interest to yourself and provide some social interaction. This will help decrease feelings of boredom and loneliness which in turn will reduce your feelings of sadness.