Right now, we are seeing many people struggling with their responses to the coronavirus pandemic. From overworked, front line health care workers, to shoppers grabbing the last package of toilet paper, we see people losing control of their emotions. While doing or saying the wrong thing in the midst of an emotional meltdown can always have very negative effects, now they could be down-right dangerous. In fact, they can send you tumbling out of control. This is why its so important to learn to be able to control your emotions right now.
How Your Brain Makes Sense of the World
The human brain is amazing at figuring out stuff. It takes in information from your senses and makes that information into something meaningful. It uses that input to take an appropriate action. All this in a fraction of a second.
One example is you smell a lemon and your mouth fills with saliva. Another is you see a friend and you begin smiling. This is your brain taking in information and immediately giving you an appropriate response.
So Why Do We See People Panicking?
Because of evolution, your brain’s primary purpose is to keep you safe. This is why you can rapidly fall into a panic state. For example, if your ancestor saw a fire on the horizon, instead of thinking about what they should do, their brain quickly told them to run away. This mode, called the fight, flight or freeze response, gets your body ready to run, fight or stay entirely still. This mode kept your ancestors in the gene pool and is why you are here today.
Today, this mode is still working to keep you safe. While in most cases you aren’t running into the type of threat that can immediately wipe you out, a close call on the freeway or an argument with a coworker can set cause your brain to leap into this mode.
The problem with a threat like the coronavirus is it can overload your brain fight, flight or freeze response. This can send you into the panic mode. This is why you see videos of people fighting over toilet paper. Their brains are doing what it thinks it needs to do to keep them safe, as ridiculous as this seems to those of us watching.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are mindful mind hacks you can practice to control your emotions. This will hep you get through this coronavirus crisis with both your life and your dignity.
Control Your Emotions with these Mindful Mind Hacks
1. Realize that negative emotions will pass
As angry or frightened as you are right now, you’ll probably be over it by next year, next week, or even later this afternoon. The great thing about emotions is they tend to focus our attention on the right here and now. But with the good comes the bad. Our emotions can give us tunnel vision. This tight focus causes us to lose sight of the potential long-term consequences that a temporary emotional state can create.
Who hasn’t done or said something in the heat of the moment that’s caused great them remorse? I certainly imagine that the women caught fighting over the toilet paper wish they had a do-over.
Keep in mind that your anger, fear, resentment, or other negative emotions will fade quickly enough. Your rash response may not. By learning to control your emotions you are limiting your long-term consequences.
2. Regularly examine your emotions
Learn to check in and notice when you’re getting overly emotional. When you notice yourself reacting strongly, ask yourself “why”?
By mindfully asking yourself why you are feeling this particular emotion you can bring it into the open. This allows you to admit you are experiencing it to yourself. This way, you can avoid rationalizing your behavior, which is a nice way of saying “lie to yourself.” If you know the real reason you’re feeling the way you do, you have more resources to do something about it. Now you can control your emotions instead of letting them control you.
3. Label your emotions
Controlling your emotion can only be done if you know what it is. As you experience an emotion ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Now put a label on it. As you put the label on it, try to determine where you are feeling it in your body. IS it in your head, your chest or your neck? This will help you to quickly take control of your emotions in the future.
4. Create Space for your response
Many of the challenges created by our emotions could be eliminated if we could just take a moment before reacting. Getting upset isn’t something that happens to us. It’s something we allow ourselves to do to ourselves and some of us are very good at it.
By creating space, you are allowing yourself to take control of your emotions and respond appropriately. This leads us to an easy method for making space, mindful breathing.
5. Practice Mindful Breathing
Many people assume that emotions are entirely psychological, but, as we have discussed, emotions have a physical component as well. These changes to your physiology also affect your breathing pattern.
You’ve just learned to label certain body feelings with names like “anger” and “fear.” You can put this knowledge to use as you practice mindful breathing.
When you experience “fear” or “anger, focus on slowly breathing in and out slowly for a minute or two. Try to think only about your breathing. Count your breaths. Pay attention to the physical feeling of the air moving in and out of your body. This will help you control your emotions and put the best you back in charge.
Control Your Emotions with these Mindful Mind Hacks
The coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon. As a result, there is the very real possibility you are going to run into many stressful events. This will challenge your ability to stay in control of how you react.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with experiencing emotions. They exist to inform us that something might be amiss. But they do not have to control you. You can use these mindful mind hacks to control your emotions. This can help others control theirs too.
Use these techniques to help you choose to respond differently to experiences you encounter. This will help you make wiser choices. This is what will really keep you safe.
Looking for better control of your emotions? Look no further! Modern Mindfulness is here to guide you on the path to emotional mastery. Get your copy today on Amazon and start living with more peace of mind.