Feelings and Emotions

Feelings can be hard to make sense of. You might not even know why you feel a certain way. All feelings are OK. You can be furious, or sad, or worried.  You are human and like everyone else you’re going to experience all sorts of emotions in your lifetime. 

Being unhappy, angry or worried is fine. It becomes a problem when you can’t stop feeling like that for no obvious reason. What is good to remember is that while feelings are OK;  it’s what you do with those feelings that really matter.  We want you to be able to cope in the best possible way. Remember we are all unique and special. We ALL feel emotions differently. 

OK to feel graphic

Is there a difference between ‘emotions’ and ‘feelings’?


The words ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’ get used a lot and often interchangeably. A really (over) simple way to think about the difference is:


Emotion (physical reaction)

leading to:

Feeling (mental response to emotion)


Say, someone brings their pet tarantula to school...


image of tarantula with Boo

Some people may react like...

Emotions are a physical reaction to the spider. Your body reacts both inside (gets ready to run like hell) and outside (your expression changes to show fear or panic and you may yell ‘aarrgh!’). 

Feelings are our reaction to emotions and how we respond mentally, they involve the brain and are often subconscious).

Others have a different responses...

Just about everyone will have an emotional (physical, fear) response to 'fluffy' but we’ll probably experience feelings (our mental response) about it in different ways…

But it doesn't really matter if we use 'feeling' and 'emotion' interchangeably. The important bit is that we understand what's happening and learn ways to manage...!


Understanding feelings...

Think of some feelings / emotions - how many can you name?

Can you come up with a feeling word for every letter of the alphabet (“Xcited" for X doesn't count!).

Did you know image

However, there are some basic emotions:

But of course it's not that simple!

Within these 'basic' feelings there are different strengths of feeling (There is a difference between feeling a bit peeved about something and full on rage)

Feelings words

There's also a huge number of words to describe feelings and their strength

(Click on the image to view a larger version / download)

feelings words graphic 

Mixed Feelings

We can also have ‘mixed feelings’ and experience several feelings at the same time (excited to be going on a giant rollercoaster but feeling scared about it too..).

 mixed feelings graphic

Naming and Taming!

Being able to recognise and understand how you're feeling is a great way to able to manage feelings. Psychologist Dan Siegal says "name them to tame them".

It's also good to be able to name and talk about your feelings with others including trusted adults Especially BIG feelings that can be a bit scary and feel overwhelming.  Sharing them can help you make sense of what maybe happening and make them less overwhelming.

Everyone has feelings and we all feel emotions differently. Remember ‘It’s OK’ to have any emotion (Sad, Angry, Anxious) but it is what you do with those feelings and how you manage them that really matters. Feelings can change and; even if you are feeling really anxious or sad now it CAN get better.

Name those feelings!

The "What Am I Feeling?" section of the action plan is a quick, not very serious, way to check in with your feelings.

You could use some of the ideas in the feelings check-in toolkit as a way to get to know your feelings

Feelings in the brain and body

Your body and brain are connected and our body can give us messages about what we may be feeling. These are called Early Warning Signs. These Early Warning Signs can help us recognise if we don't feel safe and what we can do about it. 

Find out more about how your brain can affect your feelings