How do we find calm in moments where we feel like we’re going to “lose it?” Managing emotions can be a difficult task, especially when managing anger and other high-stress emotions.
We’ve been covering some bigger topics like depression and anxiety on the podcast, and today I wanted to share some very practical emotional coping skills that I use every day to calm myself down in moments of anger and frustration. Listen in as we discuss 7 questions to ask yourself in these moments, as well as what you can do to help yourself stay calm and show up for your people, yourself, and for God in a way that honors Him.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- [01:55] Question #1 for managing emotions: Have I eaten yet?
- [03:13] Question #2 for managing emotions: Have I had enough water?
- [04:49] Question #3 for managing emotions: Have I moved my body recently?
- [07:42] Question #4 for managing emotions: How are my sleep habits?
- [13:24] Question #5 for managing emotions: What needs to be processed?
- [17:00] Question #6 for managing emotions: What lies might I be telling myself about what I'm experiencing?
- [18:31] Question #7 for managing emotions: How can I use A.D.D. to help me process?
- [22:16] A question specifically for women when managing emotions
[01:55] Question #1 for managing emotions: Have I eaten yet?
One of the first questions I ask myself when I’m in the midst of managing emotions is if I’ve eaten yet. I find that if I do not eat on a regular basis, my blood sugar gets low and it tends to magnify things that may not be as big of a deal otherwise. I also get dizzy and tend to get short with others when my blood sugar gets low. If you have similar feelings when you haven’t eaten, know that there's actually a lot of biological evidence behind these reactions. Dr. Amen, a great doctor to follow in the area of mindset and brain health, wrote an article about the correlation of blood sugar and our mindset.
According to his research, low blood sugar levels can be associated with poor impulse control. He suggests frequent, smaller meals with some protein and healthy fats If you want better willpower. His article made a huge impact on me because I find that’s exactly what happens to me. If I have something super high in carbohydrates and low in protein or fat, I find that not only does my sugar spike up and down, but I just feel emotionally low 30-40 minutes later.
So, when you’re feeling low, or are trying to manage anger or other overwhelming emotions, check in with yourself and ask, “Have I eaten something?” Finding something decent to eat, checking our blood sugar, maybe adding something that’s nutritious that will keep our blood sugar at a constant level could be the key.
[03:13] Question #2 for managing emotions: Have I had enough water?
The second question I ask myself or my children when we’re handling emotions is about our water intake. “Have I had enough water?” This concept of keeping ourselves hydrated is so important for our body function, for many reasons, but it’s also critical for our mindset.
Years ago, I was in a writers group and the coach was talking about how it’s important to have water ready and accessible when we're writing or when we're working on deep, energy-sucking sort of topics. This may be something that you already know intuitively, but there is a ton of science behind the benefits of proper hydration as well. In fact, there was this great article from Healthline talking about the link between dehydration and anxiety and even in some cases, depression.
In their studies, they found that people who usually drink lots of water felt less calm, less content, and more intense when their water intake dropped. When researchers increased participant’s water intake, an overall increase in levels of happiness and calm occurred. So, when you’re feeling like you might lose it, maybe start with a glass of water!
[04:49] Question #3 for managing emotions: Have I moved my body recently?
Have you moved your body recently? We all know about the benefits of exercise. We know we're supposed to be doing something at once a day to get our bodies moving. I don't know about you, but if I don't work out on a regular basis and then I start working out, I feel a major shift in my sense of self, mental health, and my ability to think through things and stay calm. I talk about this all the time with my kids, “Mommy needs her mental health walk right now.” When I say that, they know that I just need to go and move some energy out of my body.
There's an article from the Mayo Clinic which suggests that participating in 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms. Similar amounts of physical activity, as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time, may make a difference as well.
[07:42] Question #4 for managing emotions: How are my sleep habits?
The fourth question you can ask yourself when managing emotions like anger is, “Am I getting enough sleep?” Take some time to check in with yourself and reflect on your sleep habits. We all know that there’s the occasional rough night of sleep that can completely wreck our mood the next day, but what has your sleep been like for the last week or two? Have you been staying up really late? Have there been some really big things that have been on your mind that have been keeping you awake? Maybe you’ve been waking up early, or had to do some travel and you changed time zones and now your regular sleep schedule is off.
There can be a thousand different reasons why we can't sleep. There's a really interesting graphic that I found when researching this from a site called mind.org.uk, and it talks about a cyclical pattern that happens when we have feelings of worry and stress and how that can cause a lack of sleep, which causes us to feel tired. Then, because we're tired, we have difficulty coping with daily life, which can lead to lower self-esteem and additional worry and stress. This whole cycle feeds into itself, going around and around.
In an article published by Psychology Today, research shows that there are significant benefits to naps that can help break these cycles, like increasing our alertness. I like to take naps when I’m able, and I have a rule with myself that I don't sleep more than an hour and a half or less than 25 minutes.
I had read once in a Hopkins Medicine article that when we sleep more than either 25 minutes, or we sleep longer than 90 minutes, our brain goes into a deeper state of sleep. When we wake up in the middle of that state of sleep, we're actually more tired than if we had not taken a nap at all. Keep this in mind if you use naps to supplement your sleeping habits.
[13:24] Question #5 for managing emotions: What needs to be processed?
Another important question to ask is if you have hard or frustrating things inside of yourself that need to be processed. There can often be an ongoing heaviness that needs to be dealt with before we can move past a strong, recurring emotion.
This happened to me the other day. My kids have been walking through some things that I just haven’t been able to stop stressing over. No matter how many times I prayed about it or went on a walk, these feelings were lingering inside of me. I had to be intentional about taking time with God, reserving a few hours on a Saturday to be in conversation with Him and ask Him to help me figure out why I couldn’t let certain things go. That decision made all the difference in the world.
When we feel these moments of frustration or overwhelming emotions, we can ask ourselves if there’s something deeper that needs to be processed. Think of it as a ‘check engine’ light for your emotional health. Sometimes God will use those as a sign to say that He sees that we’re angry and frustrated, but that He wants us to work through those issues instead of staying stuck in them. The longer we let those issues fester, the more likely they are to become bigger issues.
Questions for reflection:
- How can I get relief around the overwhelm? What do I need in order to feel better?
- Is it physical? Do I need comfort, water, or a physical break?
- Is it emotional? Do I need to cry, pray, or talk about it with a friend?
- Is it spiritual? Do I need to have a deeper conversation with God?
[17:00] Question #6 for managing emotions: What lies might I be telling myself about what I'm experiencing?
Question number six to ask yourself when building your emotional coping skills: “What lies might I be telling myself about what I'm experiencing?” There are all kinds of filters that we put on situations, whether they stem from past experiences or our natural tendencies.
For example, I tend to be more on the anxious side of things, jumping immediately to ‘what ifs’ and worst case scenarios. Some of us tend to lean toward black or white thinking, giving ourselves only two outcomes to ponder.
In these moments, we can learn to stop and analyze what’s really going on by asking, “What lies might I be telling myself about how this is happening? What are some filters that I may be putting on this?” We may not be able to answer immediately, but it's something to reflect on so that we can start to figure out the habits that are no longer serving us in moments where we feel like we’re going to “lose it.”
Questions for reflection:
- What could be underneath this type of thinking or feeling and what would God say about that?
- What is God's perspective on this?
- Could you be catastrophizing the situation?
[18:31] Question #7 for managing emotions: How can I use A.D.D. to help me process?
The last question I use in my household on a daily basis that helps with managing emotions is, “How can I use A.D.D. to help me process? The A.D.D. method is something I talk about often on the podcast and with my clients. It’s a three step method that helps women navigate their emotions and figure out how to respond in a way that honors the emotion and God at the same time. We don’t want our emotions to run our lives, but we do need our emotions to be able to help us express what we're feeling, and emotions and truth can work together in harmony. A.D.D. stands for (A)cknowledge, (D)iscern, and (D)ecide.
The first step in the process, acknowledging, helps us with compassion. Ask yourself, “What can I acknowledge about what's going on right now? Why does it make sense that I'm feeling this way?”
The second step is to discern, and this is where we say, Okay, well, what is true about the situation in general? We can then take a deeper look at God’s truth, examining His word and how he wants us to respond.
The third step is to decide. This is where we call on God for courage. We call on God to help us walk through what we’re being called to do, even if we don’t have an immediately clear answer. This process helps us know where we’re supposed to emotionally dwell and what we’re supposed to let go of.
[22:16] A question specifically for women when managing emotions
There is another question that is helpful for us, as women, to ask ourselves every now and then: “Where am I in my cycle?” When we start our period, perimenopause, pregnancy, or nursing a baby, our hormones are all over the place, and it's completely normal for that to be a factor in our emotions. I know there are certain things that happen in my body and that there are certain things I struggle with basically every single time I’m about to start my period.
Take time to get to know your body in the phase that it's in, and how it could be affecting your emotions. Again, remember that our bodies affecting our emotions is a natural thing, so give yourself grace while you’re becoming more aware of the shifts and changes.
MENTIONED AND OTHER RELATED EPISODES:
Write a 5-Star Rating and Review and Get a Free Gift: 50 “I Am” Declarations ($47 value)!
If you love this podcast, would you take a second to write a five star rating and review? If so, I’d love to send you a free gift: the 50 ‘I Am’ Declarations. This is an audio and written statement of who we are in Christ, and includes Bible verses and powerful statements about identity that you can proclaim over your life.
To get the free gift ($47 value), take a screenshot of your five star rating and review and then email that screenshot to Hello@VibrantChristianLiving.com, and we’ll send you access to the resource! Thank you again for helping us get the word out about the podcast in a bigger way!