Four Ways to Keep your Cool
Our brains are complex organs. Within it are all our thoughts, emotions, and worries. Yet even though we like to think of ourselves in control, sometimes our emotions get the better of us and we react without thinking. If you have ever found yourself struggling with emotion, here are 4 tips neuroscientists use to help master our brains from the chemicals up.
Combat worry with gratitude
Have you ever stayed up all night worrying over an embarrassing moment that day, an unpaid bill, or that speeding ticket you got? Worrying is incredibly stressful, and sometimes we just can't help working things over for hours. If worry is getting the better of you, fight back with gratitude.
While gratitude and worry don't seem to have any connections, chemically you do. No matter how unpleasant worrying might seem, it actually lights up the reward centers in your brain. It feels good to worry because even if it's a problem you can't do anything about, worrying is “doing something.”
Gratitude also lights up the reward center of your brain, and floods your mind with dopamine, which is also an anti-depressant.
The next time you find yourself worrying, take a moment to count the things you are grateful for, and fight back a little against worry.
Feeling sad? Fight back by labeling your emotions
We've all had a bad day where everything seems to go wrong. It seems like you can hardly catch your breath before the next painful emotion rocks you. What do you do when you feel this way? Name the emotions. Sadness, grief, anger, what ever it is you are feeling, label those emotions.
The reason you label them is that when our emotions are in full control, we feel them far more painfully. The emotion center of our brain is in full control. When we label them, it forces the language side of our brain to light up, reducing the signal to the emotional side.
Yup. You'll be less mad if you actually identify your anger as anger.
Perfectionist tendencies? Aim for middle of the road decisions
Your bed isn't made until it looks like something out of a catalog. If you get an A in school and the highest grade is A+, you basically failed. Sound familiar? Being a perfectionist has it's advantages, but perfectionism can trip you up when you don't know what the right decision is.
When you make a decision that's “good enough” rather than perfect, you'll be more likely to succeed and a loa less stressed. Good enough is usually good enough for everyone, and it makes us happier because we made a decision.
Need to reduce stress? Have a snuggle.
Humans are social creatures. Even the most introverted person still enjoys the company of others sometimes. If you're stressed, hugging or touching family and friends can make you feel better. If you're in pain, gentle touch can make you feel less pain. Touch is healing, and we should all do more of it.
These four hacks really work, and are backed by neuroscience. The next time you're in one of these dilemmas, try these tricks to regain control.