How To Handle Overwhelming Emotions In Under 5 Minutes
When has anyone saying, “just calm down” ever worked?
It doesn’t work because you’re in an irrational state.
You can’t think straight.
You can’t even process the meaning of those words and how dare they tell you to calm down; because obviously that’s what you’re trying to do.
What you’ve managed to do instead is work your brain into a stress induced coma.
You have momentarily bypassed the prefrontal cortex, which is the abstract thinking, higher thought function and reasoning part of your brain. Instead you’ve switched on the fight or flight response.
A study done by John Morrison, neuroscience professor, at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that the branches of nerve cells are affected by stress. Though the cells could regrow once stress disappeared they could not fully recover after severe stress.
Under high levels of stress, panic and anxiety the brain tries to protect itself.
It assumes that there is imminent threat to your life because that’s the story it’s been told.
It assumes that you don’t have time to think; because you’re going to die. It shuts down any and all voice of reason.
Have you ever been so mad that you thought you were going to black out or blow a switch?
That’s the fight, flight…and in this case faint response.
The good news is that you can regain control.You can override your brain in just a few minutes .
You can get your mind back and handle overwhelming emotions in under 5 minutes.
Remember that you’re causing this reaction by inducing your brain into a coma like state brought on by stress.
Determine if you are in any real danger. Although you realize that you are being emotionally assaulted and feel the need to defend yourself, that’s different than someone breaking into your house. It’s different than someone holding a gun to your head. Sometimes the brain gets ahead of itself and needs redirection… redirection like you’re not dying and actually okay.
Ground yourself spiritually.
Ground yourself spiritually by asking God for help. One option is to say a prayer simply asking for what you need. It can be as simple as, “I’m losing control right now, please help me to think clearly.”
Ground yourself physically and emotionally.
One option is to use this 5,4,3,2,1 technique. Start off with a few deep breaths.
Say 5 things you can see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 positive thing.
At first, when youre in an emotional state you’ll most likely forget all of this, but do remember to start paying attention to the other things around you, which will automatically trigger parts of the exercise. You may notice you feel nauseated, dizzy, faint, or tired.
Dr. Neil Nedley provides a quick solution to emotional distress by using CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) to the tune of “Frère Jacques”.
Dr. Nedley is a author, physician and creator of the Nedley Depression Recovery Program. He identifies multiple drug free remedies for fighting depression and anxiety. One of the methods used is CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
CBT is the idea that how we personally interpret any situation affects how feel and respond to it.
You may think that someone is criticizing you,so you feel hurt, reacting defensively; when in actuality the other person never intended it that way. These discrepancies in thinking are called cognitive distortions. CBT deals with being able to identify these distortions and then debunking them. This allows the individual to have more realistic perspectives of the situation.
However, sometimes that negative thought …is the truth, that person really doesn’t like you. CBT also asserts that you have the coping skills to deal with negative emotions.
Identifying cognitive distortions is not that first, second it even third thing you’re thinking about when recovering from emotional overwhelm. In the interim you can subconsciously and quickly activate CBT skills to the tune of Frère Jacques.
The words are substituted with,
I don’t like it. I don’t like it. It’s alright. It’s alright. I can stand it anyway. I can stand it any way. I’m Ok. I’m OK.
This simple technique quickly allows you to acknowledge emotion instead of denying them. It then provides assurance that you also have the ability to handle negative emotions.
Remember that it takes approximately 90 seconds for emotional intensity to pass.
Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor describes a 90 second rule. When an emotional response is triggered there is a 90 second automatic chemical response in the blood and body.
Taylor explains that all emotions last for less than 90 seconds. If anything continues after this it’s because we have allowed it to develop into something more. The more we replay the memory , or repeat the thoughts the more they become ingrained in our mind, making it difficult to disconnect.
There is an ancient wise quote that says,
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Our brain and body has a fight or flight response to protect us against danger, like gunmen and animal attacks, which is activated by stress. In the age of performance and anxiety we associate danger with arguments, loosing keys and getting stuck in traffic.
Our brain responds the same way each time, until we tell it not to. Until we change the narrative.
Know that you’re not left defenceless. You can get control of those overwhelming emotions in a just matter of minutes.
Cheers to your next melt down, even if it’s in your underwear.