Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been told to control your emotions. “Stop crying!” “Take that pout off your face!” “Don’t cross your arms at me!” “Lower your voice!”
You always felt overwhelmed at these instructions. You never understood how you were supposed to control your emotions. Instead of expressing your emotions, you started to hide them, bottle them up, and lock it away.
But through the years, you started to notice a few odd days where everything seemed to go wrong and everything set you off. You were angry almost to the point of violence. You were so depressed and sad and overwhelmed that it seemed like there was no way out. From these times, you start to see that every emotion you bury away will soon suffocate you.
Every emotion you hide away is a small weight. After a few weeks or months, the weight becomes too much for you to bear. You start to climb out. You claw through the mountain of emotions you buried. You feel the dirt in your nails as you throw out every insult, tear, and thought in your head with no regard for other people’s feelings. These emotional explosions are not healthy for you or the people around you.
Instead of swallowing every emotion you feel, let some of it out. It’s okay to have emotions but there are better and more effective ways to express them than just letting it all run loose. Emotions need to be let it out in the right frame of mind.
Most times when we feel emotions, we’re overwhelmed. This sense of loss and confusion makes us want to get rid of the emotions as fast as possible. But sometimes this causes us to say or do things that we don’t mean. Once we have said it or done it we can’t take it back. So taking the time to learn how to control your emotions is a lesson you can use for the rest of your life. And here are five easy steps to help you along the way.
1. Acknowledge the situation is first way on how to control your emotions
You need to accept that emotions are a part of life. Everybody feels them. But there is a way to express emotions that won’t hurt your mental health or someone else’s.
Emotions cannot be bottled up and stored away. You just need to find better ways of expressing yourself without screaming, bursting in to tears, or resorting to violence.
2. Learn the Triggers on how to control your emotions
What causes these emotions? Stress? Anger? Unhappiness? Whatever it is, write it down on a piece of paper. Once you have your triggers written down on paper, draw a line down the middle. On the right side of this line, write out your emotional reaction to each of the triggers.
3. Address the situation is one of the ways on how to control your emotions
If your emotional reaction is anxiety then a solution is mediation or yoga. These activities calm your brain, regulate breathing, and clear your head. By concentrating on your breathing, deep inhale and deep exhale, everything else fades away, allowing you to think with a clear head.
Initial anxiety could be accompanied by heart pounding, nervous shaking, and crying, in those situations, you need to take a step back and take a few deep breaths.
If your emotional reaction is anger then a simple solution is an anger management exercise. The exercise takes about 5-10 minutes depending on the time it takes for your anger to fade.
The exercise involves taking your hands and closing them in to fists. Hold the fists tight for 10 seconds then release. Keep performing this action as you steady your breaths and your anger fades.
A variation of this exercise is tightening every muscle in your body for a few seconds then releasing them. Associate the tightening muscles with long inhaling breaths and the release with long exhaling breaths. With each inhale think of the situation and the problem and with each exhale let go of it
For any emotional reaction, walking away and giving your-self a moment to assess the situation in a calmer environment is a simple yet effective solution. When you’re emotional, you can’t think clearly and you might say or do things that you don’t mean.
To calm yourself down, you can listen to music, jog in place, or count your breaths. All these activities regulate your heart rate, clear your mind, and control your breathing. Dr. Weil, a doctor of medicine in Arizona, advises patients to use a 4-7-8 breathing technique. This involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. He recommends repeating this breathing cycle four times. Dr. Weil refers to this breathing exercise as relaxation breathing.
4. How to control your emotions: Find long-term solutions
Now that you can calm yourself down amidst the emotional break let’s look at some long-term solutions. The first step is talking to someone about your problems. This “someone” could be a family member, close friend, or a professional. Every one of these people would listen and recommend a course of action. Family members or friends could have gone through the same situation and become a helpful guide. Together, you can go through the various situations and dissect the triggers behind them.
In order to get your feelings across, remember to say “I feel” or “I felt” a certain way when this or that happens. These key phrases make you pin point the problem and make it easier for people to help you.
To fully learn to control your emotions, you need to forgive and forget. If you hold on to grudges then you are like a bomb waiting for a trigger. Nobody including you will know what or who the trigger will be but once the bomb detonates, your emotions will explode out of you. Everything you have bottled up will spill out of you faster than you can stop them. Once words are said they can’t be taken back, so be careful of what you say or do. Thinking before you speak is a valuable lesson.
Learning to forgive and forget requires communication. When you communicate to another person what’s been bothering you then you can find ways to resolve it. By communicating with another person, you won’t have bottled up emotions. Letting your emotions and feelings out in a calm manner allows things to be resolved with a clear mind.
5. Prevent the situation is another way on how to control your emotions
Learn to control your emotions by using the various techniques listed in Step 3. These techniques will stop you from overreacting after a trigger is set off. Once you have mastered those, focus on writing daily reflections. Through these reflections, you can learn more about yourself and why those emotions occur.
If the daily reflections don’t create a solid answer for you then seek a specialist who can help you dissect the facts and create a plan of action. Emotions are hard to control. They are known to come out at the most inopportune times. But with these five easy steps you can be on the way to controlling your emotions.
Remember, there is no way that you can ignore or bypass your emotions, but these five steps can help you assess the situation better and create a well thought-out plan of action. With a plan, you can monitor and regulate your emotions in a more effective way.