As an “emotional storm” is approaching, negative thoughts may begin to take hold of you and cause intense feelings of fear, anger, panic or loss of control.
You may think things like:
“I’m in danger.”
“I’m all alone.”
If you pay attention you can notice physical reactions to your situation as well:
You may feel your heart beating faster.
Your breathing becomes shallow.
You begin to sweat.
Your muscles begin to ache.
And before you know it, you’re being pounded by the winds of an emotional storm.
As your negative thoughts become more and more intrusive and your body begins to betray you, here are some strategies for remaining calm:
1. Be aware of your body’s physiological clues.
The sensations we listed above can be warnings that an emotional storm may be approaching. When this happens, you can engage one or more of your senses to rapidly calm yourself.
Some examples would be:
Sight– focus on a cherished photo of a loved one
Sound– listen to uplifting or soothing music
Touch– wrap yourself in a cozy blanket or hold a comforting object
Smell– light candles or burn incense
Taste– indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or healthy snack
Movement– squeeze a stress ball or dance around.
2. Practice relaxation skills.
I recommend practicing a relaxation skill 5-10 minutes daily so the skill will be most effective during your emotional storm.
Deep breathing (inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth) is something you can do almost anywhere to help reduce anxiety and create a sense of calmness.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a process where you systematically tense then relax different muscle groups to decrease anxiety and can be used in a variety of environments.
If your emotional storm is a lengthy one, you can also practice simple relaxation and calming techniques daily including: listening to soothing music, massages, bubble baths, exercise, and reading.
3. Connect with others.
During this difficult time it is extremely beneficial to connect with others for support to share your story and not feel alone. Support may come in the form of helping others that may be more vulnerable than you in a time of crisis. It may be in the form of online chats with others who are experiencing a similar situation or sharing with a friend over lunch.
You can connect with others anonymously or publicly; it’s making a connection that counts.
Read part 1 of this series here.
Porsha Williams, LAMFT