In life, emotions can certainly get the best of us. It's hard to stay calm amidst life's stresses, and once we find ourselves getting worked up, it's challenging to bring ourselves back to neutral. By finding ways to calm down our emotions, we will be better able to take control of our states and move on from stressful situations in a clearer and more efficient manner.
As a certified health coach, I find that people tend to bottle up their emotions, and this can often lead to an uncontrollable outburst, once they have reached that breaking point. It's best to acknowledge your emotional state, accept it, validate it, and then try and move on. If your emotions involve another individual, communicate with that person in a rational, levelheaded tone to reach a common ground. If your emotions come from personal stresses, take some time for yourself and do something that makes you feel comforted and happy.
If you find yourself chronically unable to control your emotional response to situations, it might be beneficial to speak with a therapist who specializes in DBT, a type of therapy that focuses on emotional regulation.
Here are eleven ways to stabilize your mood and stop emotions in their tracks, before you do something you might regret.
1. Acknowledge Your Thoughts
Taking note of your thoughts and feelings, as well as validating them, can help you move on. "Unhelpful thoughts often pop into our minds without our conscious control and science is now showing that fighting against unhelpful thoughts usually only serves to amplify them and in turn magnify our emotional experience," shares Chicago-based therapist Chelsea Hudson in an interview with Bustle. Address thoughts head-on, rather than push them away. Once done, shape thoughts towards a positive direction.
2. Separate Yourself From Your Emotions
Keep in mind that your thoughts and emotions don't define you. "Remind yourself that 'you are not your thoughts' and that 'feelings aren’t facts,'" says Hudson. "There is a big difference between having the thought that you’re undesirable and actually being undesirable." If you let your thoughts define your core, you'll become hopeless and more apt to dwell in negativity. Be the best version of yourself, one that can be resilient.
3. Bring Humor & Lightheartedness To Your Emotions
By making your emotions seem silly and lighthearted, it'll quell the rage and sadness you might feel. "Sing the thought out loud, say the thought in a cartoon character voice or write the thought on paper and make a picture out of it," says Hudson. By creating a pretty painting and letting your fun, playful side shine through, despite the hardship you are dealing with, you'll become less aroused and better able to calm down.
4. Let Bodily Reactions Happen
If you feel anxiety in your body, don't freak out. Instead, try and relax your muscles, take a few deep breaths and let a sense of calm take over your being. "Instead of trying to push the sensations away, allow them to simply pass through your body like a wave," recommends Hudson. Sweaty palms, racing heart, flushed face and twitching muscles are all symptoms of physical stress, so perhaps putting a few ice cubes on your forehead or wrists in conjunction with peaceful thoughts can help cool the body down.
5. Don't Judge Yourself For Being Emotional
As humans, it's natural to become emotional every now and then. Take your emotions for what they are and validate them as real feelings, without judging yourself for being vulnerable. "If you can non-judgmentally observe their presence, they will reach their peak more quickly and eventually dissipate without any effort on your behalf," says Hudson, regarding the amount of time it takes for intense emotions to vanish. If you start hating on yourself, you will only feel worse.
6. Take A Breather
Research shows that taking deep breaths can alleviate stressful emotions. Our bodies have been wired to have the "fight-or-flight" hormone, in response to cortisol, which is activated under stress. However, breathing can reduce cortisol's effects, thus calming our body down and bringing us back to a clearer mental and physical state. Try these three breathing exercises for a greater sense of tranquility.
7. Cry, If You Need To
"If you need to cry, there is a reason, and the tears should come out. It's healthy to experience a full range of emotions," says healthy lifestyle coach, Liz Traines, in an email interview with Bustle. Let yourself be vulnerable and cry if you need to. Don't worry about mascara; just let yourself be. It's best to cry alone or in the comfort of people you trust, rather than on the street or at work, so be mindful of your location.
8. Get Fresh Air
Experts claim that fresh air can calm emotions, as it connects us with nature and beauty and brings fresh oxygen into our lungs. Even better? Take yourself for a brisk walk outside, as the movement can provide mood-boosting endorphins and promote healthy blood flow. Taking a few moments to yourself allows you to collect your thoughts, calm your body and separate yourself from the situation.
9. Channel Your Emotions Into Something Positive
Let your emotions enhance your creativity and performance. "If you're angry, try to do something constructive with your anger," says Traines, who also suggests deep breathing. "Breathe in for 4, hold it for 7, and exhale for 8. Do this 4 times," she recommends, as it helps you become more centered and productive. Channel emotions into your art, as well. Write a story, sing a relatable song, doodle, or work on a project you have been putting off.
"Exercise is a fantastic mood stabilizer and way to feel more connected to the world around you," says Susie Lemmer, running coach and blogger at Suzlyfe, in an interview with Bustle. She even shares her own personal story regarding struggles she has encountered with anxiety and depression. Read her tips on how to heal yourself from anxiety and gain more control over your emotions, leading to a higher quality of life and self-esteem.
Research shows that closing your eyes and meditating can keep emotions under control. Beyond calming the body and mind through deep breaths, it also enhances cognitive function, allowing you to think clearer and more rationally through problems and emotional hardships. Meditate for a few minutes regularly to create a healthy habit regarding emotional regulation, or use when you feel a stress attack about to hit.
While it's important to address your emotions, it is critical to keep them under control and move on efficiently and quickly so that you can start enjoying your life again. When emotions involve another person, it's vital to work with that person and communicate your thoughts well in order to overcome the tension. With these tips, you'll be back to feeling like yourself, happy, confident and in control, in no time.
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