Spring is a time for renewal, and a wonderful opportunity to address some of the ‘old’ habits that tend to get us into trouble. Exercise is so helpful in strengthening our reserve – and an outdoor walk can ease tension. Just remember – thinking about our problems activates the amygdala and keeps us in an agitated state. Take advantage of the sunshine to connect with the sights, smells and touch of nature, and allow yourself to ‘change the station’ from the worry channel to the one that plays ‘life is good’.
Avoid Emotional Overreactions This Holiday Season
Many of us have a wide range of feelings about the events that surround the holidays. While there are opportunities to spend time with people we care about and to enjoy traditional festivities, there are also events that can trigger strong negative emotions. It might help to take a moment to consider some of the triggers that can be active this time of the year.
Scrutiny: When we think that we are being judged, several issues can be stimulated. No one likes to be criticized, and we often judge ourselves more harshly than those we fear the most. Worrying too much about our decor or food adds to the stress involved with entertaining. Criticism can also play too active a part in the comments we anticipate from family members. Remember, there are always left-overs during the holidays. Prepare yourself for left-over resentment and competition from childhood, and the remarks and actions that are generated from the past. If you can identify a zinger as a comment that comes from the past, it is easier to see it as an invitation to become a child again, or pursue the option of staying in the present. Prepare yourself to choose the latter by creating a mantra that will help you see the alternative (something like “This is the part of being twelve that I can live without”, or “see you’re still stuck in the past…). Allowing yourself to emotionally overreact to perceived criticism is a choice when you look at it this way.
Gift-giving: The emphasis on gifts for the holidays can awaken both envy and fear of rejection. Presents often symbolize how important we are to others. The power that receiving gifts has on our feeling world stems from childhood experiences, and the childhood happiness that was so easily created when we opened the presents that awaited us. It is very difficult to re-create the excitement and joy that belonged to childhood, and the stakes get higher and higher as adult realities and economics play increasing roles. When we fail to reach the levels of happiness from gifts we receive, it is easy to confuse those emotions and feel unimportant or overlooked. We are also primed to experience envy when we see that others are happy with the gifts they have opened, or gifts we wish we could have received. Few of us are comfortable admitting to feelings of envy – which makes it even more difficult to recognize and correct. Many people withhold the love they could give; they do it through gifts but they also do it in other ways. Adults who depend too much on gifts to reinforce their self worth are at risk of being seriously disappointed each time they tear off the wrapping paper.
Tips on Starting a New Job
Starting a new job is always daunting, but particularly so when you have been out of the workplace for some time. This is equally true when you decide to switch career paths, or start a new venture at a near-entry level. Even if you have acquired considerable experience working in related areas, taking on a new role and starting with an unknown cast of characters can feel overwhelming. Research has opened up a new understanding of why we overreact and what we can do to prevent it. Here are some tips to help you.
Check your Anxiety at the Door Learning how to navigate the unknown can easily make us unsettled, but there is an important distinction between a low level of feeling nervous and a higher level of anxiety. Being too anxious creates a state of hyper arousal where our bodies are primed to fight, but our minds are too preoccupied to take in new information. Even worse, if the anxiety continues to climb, our mind may decide it’s time to take a vacation and temporarily shut down. When this happens, it’s extremely difficult to comprehend new information, and almost impossible to organize it in a meaningful way. We end up feeling confused, disorganized, and embarrassed to have forgotten everything that has been explained. Take a deep breath and try to let go of some of the tension. It’s amazing how much more clearly you’ll be able to understand and remember important information.
Enjoy Being the New Kid on the Block Everyone knows that beginners are expected to make mistakes. Research has shown that once we master a task, our self-imposed expectation to succeed makes it emotionally challenging to forgive ourselves if we mess up. Just because we’ve succeeded in other areas doesn’t mean that we will be an expert in our new endeavor. The people you will be working with will probably enjoy the opportunity to help you figure things out – after all, it makes them feel more capable and accomplished. Give yourself a chance to start at the bottom without judging yourself too harshly. There will be plenty of time to be held accountable in the future, so just enjoy a temporary reprieve that all beginners deserve.
Pack your Baggage Thoughtfully Starting a new job will unconsciously activate the memories of earlier experiences with new challenges in your life. Even if you can barely remember your childhood, these memories have not been erased, and can create a wide range of expectations and feelings. Take a moment to write down some of the most important ‘beginnings’ that you can remember, such as starting High School or leaving home to go to college or get married. If you can recall what worried you the most, you have a wonderful advantage, because those thoughts and memories are likely to accompany you as part of the old baggage you’ll be bringing to your new job. Instead of allowing the memories that hold doubt and anxiety to jump into the bag, focus on two or three memories of wonderful things that happened to you, and times that you really handled your self well. If you are planning a trip to a tropical island, you don’t really need to bring your long underwear and ski jacket with you. As you sort through the memories you’ll allow into your fresh start at a new endeavor, recognize the ones that you’ll want to rely on, and the ones that you need to unpack and leave behind.
Be confident. Self doubt can prime us to fail. It takes time to learn how a new operation works, and to figure out the personalities of a new cast of characters. In the beginning, it is unrealistic to think that you will have as much control as you are accustomed to having in your life. During the time of acclimation, you can choose to relinquish leadership without allowing yourself to lose your confidence. When we hold the belief that we are capable of succeeding, the part of our brain that promotes fear and anxiety is kept under control. Remember that you were selected for this new opportunity, and that the people who chose you have every reason to believe that you will succeed. Set realistic goals that allow you to exercise small doses of control over what you need to learn in order to perform at your best level. Staying confidant in your ability will help you take the control that you need in order to guarantee your success.
Do you Know How You Overreact?:
Everyone knows what it’s like to overreact but few people know how to overcome it. Cutting-edge research has revolutionized the ways therapists view emotional regulation, and created entirely new approaches to help people manage intense emotions.