“Emotions are temporary states of mind. Don’t let them permanently destroy you.” - Unknown
When the events in our life start of overwhelm, emotions can get intense and physical responses are fast-tracked up. If too intense, we don’t think as clearly and we don’t perform as well. I want to present six strategies to not let emotions get the best of you when times get stressful.
Walk, run or work it out! Any exercise that gets your heart rate up for about 20 minutes will be effective. However, it is not helpful to do activities like wrestling or boxing, or competitive team sports. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that trying to vent or express anger like this does not “get it out of your system” but rather can fire you up more by fueling competitive angry thinking.
2. Half Smiling
Yes, that correct – half smiling because the way we feel is partly influenced by our facial expressions, we can create positive expressions to send positive signals to our brain. To ‘half smile’ – relax your face, neck and shoulder muscles when you first notice yourself getting irritated or experiencing a problem emotion. Then gently bring you lips into a slight smiling position. This facial expression should be calm and peaceful like the look of the Mona Lisa or meditation monk. Gently inhale and exhale three times.
There is a saying “be careful how you talk to yourself because you are always listening”. Positive self-talk is about being your own coach – encouraging yourself to work through the emotion in a safe and healthy way. For example, say (in your head) “calm down”, “shake it off”, “roll with it”, “ride it out”, “this too shall pass”, “relax”, “I can handle it”, “it’s not worth it”, “I am better than this”. Note that because emotions can quickly cloud judgement and our ability to think in the moment, it may be useful to have a few statements that hold personal meaning prepared in advanced.
4. Quiet the Mind with Visualization
Most people have a place where they feel comfortable and relaxed. It could be a rural place, the woods, near the ocean, in front of a fireplace. This strategy involves vividly imagining that scene while taking a few deep relaxing breaths.
5. Consider the Consequences of Acting on the Emotion
Consider all the possible outcomes (both good and bad) of acting on the emotion right now versus not acting on the emotion. Write these down so you can see the whole picture and then make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.
6. Talk to Your Support People
If they are not cause of your stress, consider talking with your support people (friends, family, mentor, teacher, former professor, former manager) about the way you are feeling, or someone that you know that will give you advice that fits your standards, values and goals.
This is not an exhaustive list but hopefully one of these strategies can assist you when your emotions begin to run away to an unhealthy place where you don’t want to be.