Do you overreact emotionally to certain stressful situations? For some people, it sometimes gets to the point where they may hurl expletives or other forms of verbal abuse at a family member or friend for being just a few minutes late for a car ride. Other people may feel and act as if their entire day is ruined if they drop their fork on the floor. But if we take the time to examine the situation carefully, it’s pretty easy to see that these intense emotional reactions are not consistent with what is happening in reality.
Of course, there are scenarios and circumstances that may cause you to feel more stressed out than usual. For example, how would you feel if you’re boss asked you to pick up a prospective client and his team in two luxury rental cars but you somehow managed to crash your rented car into the other? Even worse, what if one of the passengers was seriously injured? If you felt stressed, panicked, and guilty it would be completely understandable.
Nevertheless, there are individuals who are able to remain cool, calm, and collected even in those types of high stress situations. They may reason that accidents happen from time to time and that the important thing is that no one lost his or her life. They may even recognize that the current emergency is an opportunity to provide care for their prospective business partner and the damaged vehicles can be returned and repaired. The question is, how do they stay so cool in crisis?
In this article we will consider three strategies people use to remain calm in high stress situations. If you are able to understand and apply these strategies, you will be in a much better position to keep your emotions under control when you are experiencing a stressful event in your life.
Take care of your physical health
At times, people may forget that they need to take care of themselves. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults who are often overflowing with youthful energy. However, unhealthy habits can degrade a person’s physical health over time. Some of these bad habits may include eating fast food every day, going long hours without eating, forgetting to exercise, and not getting enough restful sleep.
Your physical health is closely linked with your mental and emotional health. If your physical health goes down, you will likely develop mental and emotional problems as well. Develop healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and going to bed early. This will give your body the nutrients and time it needs to rest and repair. You will also be better equipped to keep your emotions in check when something stressful happens at home, at school, at work, or on the road.
Be realistic and treat yourself with compassion
Inside each of us lives a little critic who, from time to time, may make us feel guilty when bad things happen. These feelings are normal, especially if we are aware that our actions or inaction directly led to a negative outcome for us or someone else. However, some individuals may blame themselves whenever something bad happens. This practice can heighten their stress levels, erode their self esteem, and lower their quality of life.
If you have the habit of blaming yourself for all the bad things that happen in your life it is important that you try to develop a more realistic perspective. Rather than rushing to shoulder the blame, slow down and assess whether there were factors at play that were out of your control. Talking to a trusted friend or a licensed therapist may help. When you have a balanced view of your circumstances and treat yourself with compassion, you will cultivate an underlying feeling of happiness that helps to lower your stress levels.
Analyze and work through past trauma
If you tend to overreact to a particular stressor, there may be a connection to a past trauma that you haven’t addressed. You may become terrified, furious, or emotionally frozen when confronted with a trigger that seems relatively mild to everyone else. Intense feelings of anxiety can rob you of your joy and disrupt your ability to function each day. Thankfully, many people with anxiety issues have benefited from going to therapy.
A trained therapist will work with you to identify and resolve problems in your past that are affecting your life right now. You will also learn effective skills that can help you to cope until you are able to overcome the presenting issue. The therapeutic environment is warm, safe, comfortable, and judgment free. This will help you to relax and speak honestly about the issues that are affecting you.
If you tend to overreact to minor stressful events, you may need to slow down and pay more attention to your physical and mental health. A few simple lifestyle changes may be all you need to get back on track. However, if you are experiencing serous mental health issues such as anxiety or posttraumatic stress, you may need to seek therapy. As therapy progresses you will learn better emotional regulation and eventually regain control of your life.