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Calm down, miss.

Updated: Feb 27

What just happened? You overindulged in a way more ice cream than you wanted and now feel sick as a dog. You spent a whole bunch of money online shopping for fancy things even though you're trying to slowly pay off your credit card. You snapped at your kid and slammed doors and called them terrible things under your breath. God. Did they hear you? Have you ruined their little juvenile heart? Are you going to be out of control forever? Are you broken?

Regret is the worst.

We go to therapy to understand it and to break these patterns- and we can also practice soothing ourselves at home. So these patterns don't happen anymore. Or at least they're fewer and farther between. Fewer binges and explosions. That would be good right?

Ideally, the world should be different and never trigger you. But people say and do things and we interpret them with our hurt-colored glasses and we're off to the races. We feel awful and overwhelmed and can't think clearly enough to respond -we just react. Where some men explode out, a lot of women are socialized to eat (/diet), drink and purchase in response to our emotions. It's a lot easier to manage us that way.

Let's stop doing that.

Emotional regulation can happen while staying awake, solvent and in the ring, fighting for what you need. You step out for a minute but then you come back in a way you respect. You're on your toes, not wobbly or sedated, not silent.

When you're in the thick of overwhelming feelings, activities such as

-taking a bath with some amazing essential oils or scrubs

-lying in a dark room and squeezing your own shoulders,

-moving your body via yoga, a run, a walk, a frenetic solo dance session with good tunes

-venting to your best friend*, dog or journal

can get you back to your baseline. You can rejoin your meeting or your family with composure and figure it out later.

Then there's meditation.

Stepping away and slowing your breathing redirects your attention away from fiery thoughts and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. Rest and digest. You really can't do it and rehearse how you're going to tear someone apart at the same time. There are different kinds of meditation and mindfulness is accessible to about anyone with internet. Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer are good places to start.

I think a lot of people who are wary of emotion regulation activities listed above sense that they're a waste of time- that you just calm down for the moment (maybe, and maybe you CAN'T even), but then you go right back to your crappy broken life. It could be that way the first time, but

  1. You'll be a lot more able to fix your CBL with this nervous system reset and B. With practice, you'll get familiar with a more neutral perspective where not everyone seems out to get you and things start to roll off your back. Seriously.

*If you're an adult with an easily identifiable best friend, I'm jealous and impressed. Does she always pick up when you call? How do you maintain these deep bonds through the years and geographical distance and family obligations? A topic for next time.

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