HEY YOU! Sorry, calm down. Do you find your mind racing to conclusions often because you’re sweating the small stuff? Do you feel like little incidences erupt into massive issues that you are too overly anxious and unprepared to deal with? Overreacting is a pretty common sign of emotional stress, especially in recovery. Some research shows that we can even be hard-wired by genetic evolution and our past experiences to be hyper-sensitive to situations that baffle us without reasoning, and there are quite a few ways it can impact sobriety. Here listed are 6 ways to control overreaction when you find yourself in a situation that puts a lot of unnecessary stress on you.
- Take a deep breath
Taking prolonged and deep breaths is one of the most basic and effective ways to get a grip on any situation or emotional response. Slowing your heart rate always makes it easier to keep anxiety from taking hold of your actions, and taking a second to breathe and focusing on your breathing takes your mind off the worries and imaginary issues you create when something is stressing you.
- Identify the symptoms
A racing heart, tense muscles, upset stomach or even a stiff neck can all be physical signs that you’re in danger of being overwhelmed with intense emotions. Being more aware of physical characteristics of this kind of anxiety can actually help you to stay ahead of your response and more in control. Being conscious enough to identify your feeling activates both sides of your brain allowing you to reflect on your situation instead of just overreacting to circumstances.
- Get enough sleep
Getting enough healthy and quality sleep is an easy way to prevent overreaction. When you’re sleep-deprived you’re already vulnerable to overreactions to stressful circumstances. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night to get back on a healthy sleeping schedule, and you can also cut out excessive caffeine. Not only will this stimulant harm your sleep, but it can also make you even more anxious.
- Retrain your brain
Your mind-state and perception can make all the difference in how you respond to stress. Very few situations in life have dramatic outcomes like some people assume they will from simple things that happen that the individual sees as a warning sign or clue. If you continually jump to the worst conclusion, try re-framing the situation in your mind. Try instead of immediately considering the outcome of any incident or implication to be the ‘worst case scenario’ to consider all the reasons why you would think that way and assure yourself there is plenty of logic to the contrary.
- Find a positive perspective
When we are confronted with intense emotions it’s easy to go to a worst possible outcome as an explanation for whatever you’re experiencing. Watch for ‘black and white’ all-or-nothing words like “always” and “never” as indications that you’re heading toward a worst-case scenario. If something happens with someone that makes you feel urged to react, try and look through the other person’s perspective in a more compassionate and positive way. Maybe the person who has said something that hurt you is actually in quite a bit of pain themselves and do not mean anything personal toward you, or maybe the individual you feel has wronged you has done so unintentionally and not even considered it based on a stress or situation they are reacting to.
- Lose the leftover feelings
All overreactions come with patterns specific to you. If you find yourself repeatedly revisiting an intense emotional or behavior response, there is likely a historical component that needs to be addressed. Frequently we experience things throughout life that mold our responses into hyper-sensitivity based on fear, neglect, or other baggage that we have held on to that effect our emotional stability in a present situation. If we revert back to old stories of pain or depression and compare them with current events to draw our emotional conclusions, we are inviting the leftover feelings of anxiety from the past into our minds. Staying grounded in the present is very important. So, just keep calm and know how awesome you are RIGHT NOW!
Sometimes we overreact to the things in life that make us afraid and vulnerable, but sometimes there is real urgency and reason to take action. The disease of addiction is progressive and deadly, and there can’t be too much hesitation in taking action to save a life from addiction or alcoholism. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction there is help. Don’t wait until it’s too late, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135