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12 Ways to Handle Seesaw Emotions

Sometimes life hands you lots of lemons and lots of lemonade all on the same day. That’s been my life each day this week, so I thought it would be helpful to make a list of techniques to help keep a calm mind and stay the course no matter what is going on around me.

    1. Do no harm.

    When things are going south, if nothing else, don’t make things worse. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.

    2. Breathe.

    One long, slow, deep breath in. Hold it. Then let it go with a sigh. Do it again. Works every time.

    3. Get out of my head.

    When my emotions are the most tumultuous, I can always trace a straight line to an inward focus of thoughts. When I turn my focus outward - to nature, some problem I can solve, or to other people - it always calms me.

    4. Talk to a treasured friend.

    Getting my thoughts and emotions out to someone I trust can help sort through the damage and clarify action steps. Also, sometimes it just helps to vent to someone (just don't make it a habit).

    5. Do something physically challenging.

    A great go-to salve for all-things traumatic. Even though my legs are still tired from last weekend's 100K race, I went out for a run this morning and followed it with a strength-training workout. That helped me sort through about 80% of my feelings right there.

    6. Don't get too high.

    When things are going well, it's easy to get carried away with the flood of positive emotions. I'm all for riding that wave but stay cool. This too shall pass.

    7. Journal.

    Get those thoughts and feelings out on paper. The act alone can be soothing, and for me, I often find solutions this way that I otherwise did not see.

    8. Take thoughtful action.

    This one goes along with doing no harm. If you are not sure of the best action to take, then it's best to gather more information first, if possible. If you do know the correct course, take it! Don't sit around being glum. Move!

    9. Play a game.

    A good crossword puzzle, a game of chess, or even just a hand of solitaire can be very relaxing and can help focus the mind outward.

    10. Practice "straight face."

    No matter if things are really high or really low, I find it helpful to keep myself in check by starting with my face. Am I expressing overexuberance or bitterness in my expressions? If so, I make my face look straight. No emotions; just a relaxed expression.

    11. Take a nap.

    Sleep is the most remarkable healer of all time. Who doesn't feel better after a good rest? Though, if you're doing it in the middle of the day, keep it under a half hour lest you wake up groggy and/or you mess up your nighttime sleep cycle.

    12. When in doubt, distract.

    Sometimes all I need is a good old-fashioned book or movie to take me away from the present experience.

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