7 Strategies To Take Control of Your Emotions in Tough Times
Do these so you can start thinking more clearly and start performing at your best
When you encounter an unexpected challenge or obstacle, do you get frustrated?
If so, then I understand how you’re feeling. After all, at my lowest point, when I was flat broke with just $17 in the bank, over $100,000 in debt, and nearly fired from my 3rd job in a row, I had every reason to feel bad. My emotions hijacked my ability to think clearly and perform at my best when I needed to most.
Being emotionally hijacked is becoming more and more common in today’s society. Little wonder, the World Health Organisation reports that 350 Million People globally are now affected by some form of depression.
However, what I learned during my toughest points is that until I take back control of my emotions until change the way I feel, I’ll never be able to respond to adversity positively.
Taking on adversity can often demand the absolute best from you, which is nearly impossible when you’re going through an emotional hijacking, your emotions are out of control and you feel distraught, demotivated, and defeated.
So here are 7 strategies to take back control of your emotions during tough times!
1. Breathe deeply
Over the last few months, I’ve been going through several stressful situations. I’ve had many times when I felt tight, stressed and unable to focus — classic symptoms of an emotional hijacking!
So what I’ve started to do is take some time every morning to just close my eyes and breathe deeply. Some people meditate and that’s been very effective for me. However, I’ve found I get almost the same benefit when I just close my eyes, breathe deeply, and just focus all my attention on my breath. Sometimes, just 3 deep breaths, and I feel calmer and ready to take on the challenge I’m facing!
2. Take a break
Often at work, I’ll be bombarded by a whole series of different challenges and deadlines. I used to try and just work harder during those times. However, that just got me more stressed and wound up. Now, whenever I start to feel the pressure, I use that as a trigger to take a break.
Often I’ll go for a walk if nowhere else but to the bathroom. However, I do try to get out of the office as well — and I’ve found my best ideas come when I’m away from the office. I now take my phone which has a note-taking app like notepad and I just jot down my ideas as they come.
It’s strange but taking a break, it’s almost a trigger for your brain to stop thinking about the problem and come up with solutions. I’ve solved many a problem I was struggling with by going for a 10-minute walk and letting my brain relax.
3. Change your physiological state
The way you feel has a lot to do with how you move. If I was to ask you to show me what a sad, emotionally down person looks like, I bet you could show me. In the same way, if I was to ask you how an excited, really upbeat person’s looked like, you could show me that as well.
Our emotions are reflected in our body movements. The good thing is the reverse is true.
When we change the way we move and the state of our bodies, we change the way we feel. So take control of your body. When you’re feeling down, change your body position. Move. Go do some vigorous exercise. The exercise will generate endorphins which will help you feel better and you can start looking at your challenges in a more positive light!
Over the last few months, I’ve become a very active journaler. I journal daily and I find it really helps when I’m going through tough times. I’m able to write out how I feel and more importantly why I’m feeling the way I do.
By getting clear on exactly how I feel and why I feel that way, I immediately start to look at things differently. This puts me in a better emotional state to take on my challenges. Try this daily for 30 days and I bet you’ll see a difference.
5. Your reasons why
When you feel like giving up, when things are getting really tough, get clear on the consequences of throwing in the towel. Who will you hurt if you fail to push through? What is the price of giving up? When you’re clear on your reasons why you must press on and the price of surrendering to adversity, giving up will be far more painful than getting back up again. That is when you’ll find a way to push through your challenge, even if you don’t feel like it!
6. Your proximity is power
As human beings, we do better in groups. Staying connected to others is part of what makes us human. And it’s even more important when we’re going through challenges and tough times. So make sure you don’t go through your challenges alone. Spend time around the following two groups of people:
Firstly, people who you can talk to and who will offer you emotional support. Just having someone to chat to, even if they can’t offer you any advice, will help you manage your emotional state.
Secondly, liaise with people who have either already gone through the challenges you’re going through or have achieved the results you’re looking to achieve. This is key!
Many of us underestimate the influence the people we hang around to have on us. When we’re feeling stuck, a fresh perspective from someone who is not emotionally connected to our situation can be all we need to start moving forwards again.
7. Look for the opportunity
This is a complete mindset reframe. As I share in my “Transforming Adversity into Advantage” keynotes, every adversity has an advantage. By actively trying to look for the opportunity, we tell our brains to stop focusing on the problem and start looking for the benefit.
None of these 7 steps will make your problems go away by themselves. However, they will put you into a better emotional state and that is the aim of the game. Once you gain control of your emotions, once you start to feel better, you can then start thinking more clearly and start performing at your best — which is what it will take to conquer your adversity!