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Managing Emotions

Do you ever find yourself worrying about things that aren’t in your control? Or perhaps getting unreasonably or irrationally angry with your family, or other drivers? Maybe you find yourself finding things funny at the wrong time or laughing too long at a simple joke? These are amongst some of the signs that our emotions are getting the better of us.

We recently did a study with our school students to see how well they managed their anger. 100% of them said their anger had got them into trouble. 65% of them said they were unsure or didn’t know how to calm themselves down once they were angry. Anger is just one of the many emotions that they have to deal with on any given day.

These students are not alone! The emotional part of our brain is the limbic system and is more active than the prefrontal cortex - the part of our brain that does the ‘thinking’. It isn’t much of a surprise that so many of us struggle to get control over one or more of our emotions.

When our emotions are out of control, it can impact our choices, our behavior, and even our mental health, leading to things like depression and anxiety. But we don’t have to stay in this place! Here are some of our best tips for getting control of your emotions:

Remember that you are not your emotions.

Emotions come and go. We cannot stop that, but we are in control of how we deal with them. It is important we don’t allow ourselves to be defined by what we are feeling.

Identify the emotions you are experiencing.

The first step in dealing with our emotions is naming them as we experience them, and then noting where and when they happen. By taking inventory like this, even writing them down can help you to see the patterns and triggers you may not have noticed before.

Question why you are feeling the way you are.

What are the thoughts that come along with your emotions? Usually, how we feel about a situation is caused by how we are thinking about it. Often these thoughts aren’t reflective of reality, and working on seeing things how they are can help us find the solution.

Refocus and gain control.

Do what you need to do to get yourself in check. If you are thinking unrealistically or negatively about something, how can you change to a more positive perspective? What are the triggers or situations you need to avoid? Just taking a moment to breathe and think before you respond can completely change how you deal with a situation. Recognize what is out of your hands and focus your attention on what is in your control.

Choose your response.

You cannot control the emotions you will experience, but you can choose how you react. Our responses tend to be habits we have developed over time and so they can be hard to break - it will take practice and time. Taking a moment to make a choice will make you feel empowered, in control, and more likely to react in the right way.

Getting in control of our emotions will ultimately lead to our stress levels coming down and therefore, a healthier and happier life. Our emotions won’t ever go away, but they don’t need to rule over us.

Feelings are something you have; not something you are.

Shannon L. Alder

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