When emotions run high…

There are multiple situations in life, even within a day, which are out of our control. How emotionally charged you get when things feel out-of-control has a strong impact on your reactions, behavior, and how you handle such situations. Does an argument with a family member throw you off track of your goals for the day? Do extra tasks at work cause you to give up on your personal tasks for the day, such as hitting the gym? When we allow other people and situations to get the best of us, we often do damage to ourselves… being mad at someone else can make you ruin your own day, get off track, increase your overall negativity, and provide a feeling of misery.

Earlier in the week I posted about self-control, and how to pay attention to when you are more likely to lose control. The first step in enhancing personal control is understanding yourself, when you are likely to feel out-of-control, and learning how you react to such situations and feelings. It takes a significant amount of personal strength and understanding to not allow other people, situations, and unforeseen circumstances to get you off track.

Some tips for enhancing your level of personal control…

  1. Meditate (or for those who don’t like that word… sit and do nothing for a bit!):
    • Develop an awareness of your body. Meditation improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses.
    • Body scan, 5 minutes sitting still with no distractions, monitor breathing, think of a motivational word/statement, focus your senses, process thoughts as they come and let them go.
    • Practice! Even 5 minutes per day… we can all do that! It really does work to create an awareness of ourselves, body and mind.
  2. Eat!
    • Eating every 2-3 hours keeps blood sugar levels more even, reducing cravings and expansive hunger, which is more likely to lead to overeating – and overreacting!
    • Eating helps curb overeating and binge eating, but also helps improve sleep, and overall psychological and physical wellbeing.
    • Food is a powerful tool for optimal health!
  3. Exercise:
    • Reduces stress and distressing emotions, increases confidence, and automatically creates a feeling of self-control and accomplishment.
    • Self-control in this form can lead to enhanced self-control in other areas.
    • It is a great outlet for stress and difficult emotions, rather than turning to negative coping mechanisms. It can also curb emotional hunger.
  4. Time:
    • Pause before responding or talking to someone when feeling highly emotional. Can you wait 20-30 minutes? 24 hours? Re-evaluate when feeling less emotionally charged, and you will be less impulsive with your responding or the way you approach someone.
    • Distract yourself for 20 minutes when feeling hungry, maybe have some water, and then if still feeling hungry grab a healthy snack.
    • Learning to give yourself time before you act, or react, is one of the best tools for enhancing self-control.
  5. Sleep!
    • Good rest is key to self-control. Aim for 7-9 hours each night.
    • Too little sleep impacts glucose levels and stress hormones in the body, making it even harder to control impulses.
    • Poor sleep also leads to more agitation, negative mood, and increased level of distressing psychological symptoms.
  6. Have an action plan!
    • When you feel low energy, low motivation, a sense of poor self-control, have a plan in place. Find something to distract yourself. What are your favorite activities? How long do they take? Write these down so you can refer to them often.
    • More tips for handling emotion here.
  7. Be kind to yourself:
    • It is common to be hard on yourself when you do not feel a sense of self-control. Negative self-talk is common, more common than we often think. Hatred and disgust can develop from negative self-talk related to poor self-control.
    • This type of behavior often leads to increasing the negative behavior. So, the more you talk down to yourself, the more likely you will continue to overeat, over-drink. This will also increase negative psychological symptoms and severity, and creates a negative coping cycle.
    • Self-forgiveness is hugely important. Pay attention to how mistakes make you feel, and then move on. Do not obsess over the negative behavior, make a plan to be better in the future.

Have patience! Change is slow!!

“Never do something permanently foolish because you are temporarily upset.”

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