Understanding and coping with your emotions

Last updated: 27/09/2021

Visit ‘My life and me’, our single parent wellbeing resource. It has advice, tips and links to other support.

  Visit ‘My life and me’
CTA Image

Parenting can be stressful – it can make you feel anxious at the best of times. Doing it on your own may add to the pressure, and you may be experiencing feelings of loss or grief which make things feel harder.

But there are ways of dealing with this and of getting a bit more control over what comes at you.

Talking about it

Sometimes the hardest part about feeling stressed and anxious is not knowing who to talk to, or not realising that it’s okay to ask for help or just for a listening ear.

You could try these tips from Mind on opening up to friends and family, or the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)’s tips on what to do if you want to talk to your GP about your mental health.

Stress and anxiety

It’s common to feel some stress and anxiety, which might be the result of things that are happening in your life. It can become a problem if you don’t quite understand what’s causing it or if you don’t feel like you can cope with it.

  • If it’s all getting a bit much, try some of our tips on ‘taking care of yourself’, such as getting exercise, fresh air, eating and sleeping well, and taking time for yourself.
  • Try these tips from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) on how to feel less stressed in 60 seconds, or these videos and exercises for reducing stress from NHS Every Mind Matters.
  • If you are struggling and want to check if you have symptoms of anxiety, you could try this NHS mood self-assessment.

If you are concerned and these tips are not helping, speak to your GP. 


It’s natural to have negative emotions sometimes, whether you’re feeling low, or angry, or experiencing grief. There are small changes you can make if you’re finding it hard to manage your moods.

  • Low mood: The NHS has tips and apps to try if you are experiencing low mood. This Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) wellbeing assessment measures how you are feeling. It gives you a score which you can keep measuring over time to see if it changes.
  • Anger: If you feel constantly angry, irritable and short-tempered, you could try expressing your anger in different ways. For example, by writing your thoughts down, by talking about it before it overwhelms you, or by taking a step back and waiting till you feel calm before you react. The Mental Health Foundation has a booklet entitled ‘Cool down’ to help you express anger in a constructive way.
  • Grief and sadness: For lots of single parents, sadness and grief are common. Try talking about how you are feeling to friends or family, or to a support organisation such as Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland (for bereavement) or Relationships Scotland (for loss connected to divorce and separation).
  • Many of our tips on taking care of yourself and feeling less lonely and more in touch with others could help you if you are struggling with your emotions.

If you’re still feeling down for most of each day, and this lasts for several weeks, you may be depressed. If you feel like this, speak to your GP.