It’s hard when we’re tired and things affect us more than they usually do. Have you ever had that experience when you blow up over something little? To make things worse, other people’s responses aren’t validating; they’ll say something like...
“Come on, it wasn’t such a big deal.”
It’s not about the little thing that went wrong. Often it’s the compounding of different things that made you upset.
So how can we deal when it’s been a long week?
Remind yourself that you’re more sensitive and that things might affect you more. On these kinds of days you might want to take a five-minute walk or allow yourself to be less rushed.
Rate your feelings throughout the day.
Let’s say that we use a five-point scale, where five is the highest level of intensity of an emotion. By pinpointing your emotions, you can take the actions necessary to make sure that intensity doesn’t increase. Now let’s use an example. Let’s say that you’re at a level three, where you’re feeling moderately anxious. To maintain that level, you figure out what you need. Maybe you need a moment to yourself, ten minutes without wifi, or a quick snack...the list continues.
pinpoint your triggers.
Find out what bothers you. Are there specific environments that amp you up or make you feel anxious? For some people, being in bigger groups of people can be anxiety-provoking. For others, people get irritated when people don't hold the door open when it's pretty convenient.
If you need help coping with anger
Acknowledge it. Forcing ourselves to suppress our feelings doesn't zap them out of our systems. Instead, we can reframe our feelings as something that helps us. It's an indicator that something inside us is threatened. When we're disrespected, it's infuriating. The urge is for us to fight back and to stand up for ourselves. When we allow ourselves to feel throughout the day, we let it out in spurts rather than through one explosion.
Find an acceptable way to channel it.
Find an empty garage and throw some plates and glass bottles.
Write about it.
Find a boxing class.
Scream at the top of your lungs in the car.
Find people who will validate what you’re experiencing.
Tell your friends that you want them to listen. Maybe this means that you’re not looking for them to fix your situation, but just be there for you.
There are those words. Hurtful words. "Unstable." "Weak." "Crazy." Anyone that has been called these knows what kind of pain accompanies these words.
Anyone that has been called these knows the kind of pain that accompanies these words.
But what are you really? It’s never okay for someone to call you these names. Ever. Even if your actions are erratic. Those actions don’t define you. We all go through periods in which we might do things that aren’t characteristic of us. Maybe because it’s a more stressful time in our lives. Maybe you haven’t gotten as much sleep as you usually do. Maybe because you’re dealing with a lot all at once.
We might not always handle things the way we’d like to all the time.
This doesn’t mean that we abandon all responsibility, but that we take responsibility for what we did, we learn from it, and we forgive ourselves.
When you hear these hurtful words, what’s your immediate reaction?
If you’re angry, let yourself be angry. If you’re hurt, allow yourself to feel it. Ask yourself what you need. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and press the pause button. When we push away our feelings, they end up arising at a later time. But if we let ourselves feel what we’re feeling, we can feel it and then ask ourselves what we can do about it; we can prevent ourselves from reacting.
The reason that I don’t use the word “overreacting” ...
...is that that word is filled with judgment--overreacting according to what is “expected”, overreacting in terms of how we’re “supposed” to react.
Remind yourself of who you are.
Write a list of qualities that you do have. Write a list of things that are meaningful to you. Now soak it in.
Sit in silence and repeat one of these phrases...
“What was said was hurtful. I am doing _________________ to take care of myself right now.”
"Oh, that was harsh. I am taking care of myself by ___________________________."
"I need to feel safe. What can I do to make myself feel grounded?"
The reason that these phrases or versions of these can be helpful is that they're acknowledging what took place and the wording suggests that we are “doing” something proactive to take care of ourselves. We’re placing ourselves in an empowered place.
Here’s a list of things you can do if you’ve had a long day:
Take a bath.
Get one of your favorite candies (if this is a trigger, skip this item)
Take a five-minute walk.
Call a friend.
Make some tea.
Color a mandala.
Fill a sheet of paper with smiley faces.
Write a friend a letter and send it.
Make a list of places that you’d love to visit.
Write down a list of role models you admire and why.
So what do you do to take care of yourself?
I got the pleasure of eating freshly caught crab and by the person that caught it earlier that morning.
There's something joyful about eating with your hands and getting messy. Have you ever eaten crab?!
On one level, it makes me think about societal expectations tied to gender.
As an identified cis-gender woman, I noticed that we are not given the chance to be "messy". Messy as in with our manners or with our clothing. Or how we maintain the inside of our living rooms. Or whether we sweat at the gym. Maybe these are just things that we do, regardless of our gender. Can we just throw all those expectations out the window?!
And if you do any of these things, there's no shame in it!!
It doesn't take away from your femininity or your masculinity. We get to define how we view ourselves. We get to decide how we present ourselves. But I also want to acknowledge that it's not an easy process. It takes courage to own all of you, the parts of you that you love, the parts that annoy you or the parts that you're tempted to change. It's also a process. It's not a quick fix. It can be frustrating and painful, especially if we haven't come to terms with the parts that we're less fond of or would like to change.
But it has also made me question why we don't give ourselves permission to be "messy"?
There seem to be a lot of negative connotations associated with the word "messy". So I'd love to invite you to give yourself to be "messy".
To experience your emotions. To be sad and frustrated and content all at the same time. Sometimes our emotional experiences don't make sense.
It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you; it just means that you're a person with a beating heart.When we experience extreme sadness, it leaves us with the space to feel joy. We are not only more likely to appreciate the experience of joy because we've felt something on the opposite end of the spectrum, but also because we've felt everything else in between-- frustration, guilt, anger, or anxiety. From my own experience, I've found that it's not about striving for that state of happiness, but rather it's an emotion that we experience on a continuum.
Grief. It's heavy. Whether it's the death of someone or it's the loss of a family pet, it hurts. We sometimes minimize our own pain and forget that a break-up is also a loss.
About four years ago, a friend committed suicide. It was one of those painful losses because she had been such a light in my life. She never saw all that her friends saw in her.
REMIND yourself that past losses are triggered with death.
If you find yourself deeply affected by a death. Maybe you didn't know the person that died. Sometimes these losses bring up all the pain related to an earlier loss. We might get frustrated with ourselves for "overreacting" because we think "I didn't know this person. Why am I so sad?" Often we're reminded of someone that did pass away, and maybe that recent death is affecting you.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling