Do you find yourself becoming overly angry, worried, or sad in response to everyday or minor events? Many people develop habits of emotional reactions that become almost automatic. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to stop overreacting to situations and develop a more balanced, realistic way of looking at things:
- First, you need to “catch yourself” as soon as possible when you start to overreact. At first, you may not be aware of it until the next day, but with practice, you’ll become aware of your reaction as soon as it starts.
- Second, write down the upsetting thoughts that are running through your head (e.g., “this situation is so awful”). If you’re too upset to do this, find a quiet place, take some slow, deep breaths, and try again.
- Third, write some questions or statements to challenge your upsetting thoughts. For example, a response to “I’ll bet he’s not going to agree to my request” might be, “How do I know? I don’t have a crystal ball. He might agree and he might not.” A response to “Nothing’s going right for me today” might be, “some things haven’t gone the way I wanted them to, but some things turned out okay, and there’s still time today for more things to go right.” (Of course, these responses only help if you really believe them.) If you have trouble coming up with responses, enlist the help of a friend.
This process can be difficult at first, but it quickly pays off in an improved mood.