One symptom of ADHD is difficulty regulating negative emotions. Emotions such as worry, fear or anger can easily get the best of us unless we have powerful tools to stay in control of our emotions.
When gripped by powerful negative emotions, chemical and neurological changes occur in the body. These changes are often referred to as the “fight, flight, fright, or freeze” syndrome.
When our body goes in this state, our logical, rational mind is bypassed and the primitive survival areas of the brain take charge. Under these conditions, it is difficult to think clearly and stay in control.
With logical thinking stalled or blocked, we lose access to our productive coping strategies. When this happens, we remain stuck in a cycle of emotionality and struggle. We react from instinct to protect ourselves. Reactivity encourages poor coping strategies such as blaming, quitting and denying responsibility.
In order to get back in charge, we need to break the cycle of “fight, flight, fright, or freeze”. We need to regain control of our logical decision-making skills so we can make good decisions that will help us met our goals.
3 Ways to Control Your Emotions
Control your emotions by drinking water
Your body and brain function more smoothly when they are sufficiently hydrated. However, most of us don’t drink enough water. When we are stressed, our body depletes water even more quickly.
Drinking a little bit of water (not tea, or soda or energy drink) will lower your body’s stress chemicals and increase your body’s smooth functioning.
Put more of the right kind of water into your day!
- Keep a bottle of mineral-rich water with you during the day. Mineral-rich water is the most healthful type of water for our bodies. Choose natural spring water, artesian water, well water, or mineral water.
- Keep a bottle of water nearby and sip it during periods of stress. Stuck in traffic – take a sip! Deadline coming up – get out the mineral water!
- You can naturally consume more water without drinking it by simply eating more fruits and vegetables! This has the added benefit of giving your body more phytochemicals. These substances are essential for fighting off serious diseases such as cancer as well as adding years to your life. These chemicals are found almost exclusively in fruits and vegetables. So, while you are protecting yourself from serious illness and lengthening your life, you are also decreasing your stress levels and increasing your self-confidence! Seems like a “no-brainer” choice, doesn’t it?
Control your emotions by assuming the “power pose”
Research from the Harvard Business School in 2012 showed that people can lower their level of stress and increasing their self-confidence by changing their posture.
Remember Wonder Woman – Linda Carter? She stood in a position called the “power pose”. Standing with your hands on your hips, shoulders up and back and chest out – the power pose – changes your body chemistry.
In as little as two minutes, your body’s chemistry can shift to more self-confidence by increasing testosterone levels (women have testosterone too). The power pose reduces stress in your body by lowering the level of the stress hormone cortisol.
Put the power pose in your life!
- Start the day with a power pose. While “posing” close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out. Take your time and feel each breath. Get in closer touch with your body.
- Before any activities that may tax your physical or emotional reserves, take two minutes and get into the power pose! You’ll move through the experience with greater confidence and clearer thinking.
- Before you go to bed at night, stand in your power pose for two minutes. It will relax your body and promote more restful sleep.
Control your emotions by lengthening your body
When the body is stressed, the tendons in the back of the body contract. This contraction occurs along the entire back of the body – from head to heels. The contraction shortens and tenses the muscles in the neck, shoulders, chest, hips, groin, hamstring and Achilles tendon.
Lengthening movements reduce the body’s response to stress, lengthen the tendons and muscles, and improve communication among the various parts of the brain. This leads to more problem solving ability, a greater internal sense of “groundedness” and increased stability.
Some lengthening activities
- Breathe in, place either of your hands on the opposite shoulder and turn your head toward your hand as you slowly breathe out. Turn your head back to center. Repeat several times. Then switch hands and repeat the process on the other side.
- Sit in a chair and cross one leg over the other with ankle on knee. Extend your foot, pointing your toes and then flex your foot. While moving your foot, gently rub the inside and outside of your ankle with your fingers and thumb. This loosens the tendons and muscles in the ankle and foot.
- Stand about 12 inches from the wall, leaning against it gently with both hands. Put one foot about 18 to 24 inches behind you. Bend your front leg slightly and shift your weight onto the leg in front. Lightly press your back heel down to lengthen the muscles in the calf and thigh. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Then change legs and lengthen the muscles and tendons in the opposite leg.
Add lengthening activities to your day!
Lengthening movements are as effective for calming the body/mind and re-engaging logical thinking as the power pose. Start your day with one or more lengthening activities. A morning routine of four minutes would include two minutes of lengthening activities and two minutes of the power pose! It’s not hard to find four minutes when you know the benefits to your body and mind are so powerful.
Controlling your emotions is easier when you get the body’s natural chemistry and neurology on your side! Take a proactive approach to controlling anger, fear, worry or just plain stress! Life is full of triggers that can set off negative emotions. But you can control your emotions by planning ahead.
You’ve got a “tool kit” of strategies to help diffuse negativity and promote productive coping strategies. Start by putting one of the strategies above into action today! Once it becomes a habit, add on another tactic.
Controlling our emotions feels better in the moment, which is great. It also improves the overall quality of our lives by improving our health. And it gives us more time on earth to be with our loved ones and make a positive difference in the world!
Subject change! Want some great tips for getting a handle on “boring” and “annoying” tasks so you can get control of your time and feel good about how much you accomplish? Download my free guide for better attention and concentration skills.
ADHD coach and board certified educational therapist. Dr. Kari, helps women conquer their biggest ADHD challenges. She assists women in getting focused, organized, and motivated. She helps them get unstuck, finish what they start, and accomplish more every day!
How to Get Control of Negative Emotions
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