Everyone overreacts at times. You get caught up in an immediate, instinctual emotional response, and do or say things which we later regret. Every person is different, but if your freak outs are frequent, it might be time to do something about it. While it’s always a good idea to talk to an expert, there’s no need to feel crazy or unhealthy. Feeling and honoring your emotions is a good thing, just as long as you’re not impaired by them and you’re not hurting other people.
What matters most in freak outs and overreactions is understanding the catalyst; it’s perfectly reasonable to freak out if you unexpectedly get fired from your job and don’t have enough money to pay rent. Now, screaming and crying because of a jammed door? That’s overreacting.
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Here are five things you can do to avoid overreactions and manage your emotions during stressful times.
Understand what bugs you
We all have triggers, even if we don’t know what they are. Try to think about what bugs you, and moments when people have really annoyed you. Keep these mind, write them down, and try to think about your feelings in the particular moment. Were you hungry, sleepy or had had a stressful day? All of this contributes to overreactions. The next time one of your trigger pops up, you might still feel peeved, but you’ll be better equipped to deal with it in a healthier way.
Implement a 10 second rule
If you can, try to step away from the situation and take a breather. Count to 10 and think before you act. “By allowing yourself some time to reassess before reacting, you will increase the ability to prevent yourself from overreacting and doing something you’ll regret,” psychologist L.A. Barlow tells Bustle.
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Deep breaths are a cliche but they work
Before you do anything which might make you feel stressed out or emotional, take a deep breath and be mindful of your situation. Once you’re actually facing something stressful and triggering, take another deep breath. This will slow you down and oxygenate your brain, giving you a few seconds to think of something more thoughtful and positive than to walk away or start screaming.
Try to separate yourself from the issue and look at things through a more objective lens. “Find a way to be compassionate and avoid personalizing what happened to you,” explains Psychology Today.
Talk it out
A lot of the times we overreact because we’ve been bottling up feelings for a long time, using the first chance we get to open the flood gates and take down everything in our paths. To prevent this try to address issues the minute they bother you, talking about them to a loved one who can provide some perspective or feedback. If you prefer a more private route, you can also write down your feelings in a journal or a piece of paper.