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Five Ways to Center Yourself

This week I’m featuring guest posts from some of my best blogging friends while I take a small blogcation. Don’t run away – these are awesome posts from talented bloggers! Today’s post comes from Daisy at When Life Gives You Lemons.

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I’m an emotional person. Like Kristen Bell and her sloth shenanigans, but over everything. I don’t mean that I cry at everything, although I do. I mean that all of the emotions that normal people feel, I feel in excess.

To demonstrate this, when watching Kristen Bell’s breakdown over the sloth appearing at her birthday party, I was probably equally excited. I actually almost started tearing up and freaking out with her. Sloths are cute, okay?

This is an issue for several reasons in my life: My blood pressure is dropping like it’s hot. My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy, and people around me probably also think I’m crazy. Also, having the tendency to jump the gun on things is probably not the best way to be conducting my life.

Also, strong emotions lead to overeating and overspending. If I’m excited, sad, mad, annoyed, or even just happy, I want to shop. Emotional eating and emotional spending are a big problem in North American culture, and I fall victim to both of these things all the time. When I got my first internship, I was so excited. I emotionally shopped until I was flat broke, which wasn’t a hard feat as I was already jobless. Seeing my credit card bill after that shopping trip was a sobering experience.

During that first internship, I had to deal with a horrible coworker who micromanaged me to the point of me locking myself in the supplies closet in tears. I dealt with that by emotional eating; I gained 15 lbs during my four months there, and it took me 6 months to get rid of it.

So, in short, I need to learn how to calm the $%&* down, and I’ve been brainstorming things that help me do that. The following things are lifesavers for my wallet, weight, and health in general:

1. Read a Book

Even just doing this for a few minutes slows my heart rate and distracts me from whatever it is that I’m spazzing about. Even if it’s something super exciting in a good way, I find that I can be unhealthy-excited, as opposed to healthy-excited.

Normal people get excited and happy, I get exuberant. Chilling out with a book for a few minutes helps me see things practically, and act upon the exciting things in a normal way.

I think this may be because you have to concentrate on the words on the page to absorb the book. TV never works for me because that’s more mindless; reading requires concentration on things other than my emotions.

If I’m super grumpy, this works even better. I’m a stewer (I stew over things). If I’m grumpy because the boy didn’t make coffee that morning, I’ll stew over it until it’s a criminal offense. Getting my mind off of it for a few minutes will stunt the anger from multiplying, and I’ll probably be able to transfer my thoughts to the book instead of the target on the boyfriend’s head.

2. Stare at a Blank Wall

I know most of you probably think I’m joking, but seriously. If you’re super angry, annoyed, excited, or just over the top, do this. Stop, take a deep breath, and stare at a blank wall.

I prefer white, but any neutral or pale color will do. It takes away the over stimulation and makes you focus on calming down.

I should warn you that any old wall will not work. If it’s a bright color, don’t do it. Same with patterns or wall paper.

Apparently, this helps decrease sensory overload and that’s why it works.

3. Go for a Run

It sucks for all of us that don’t necessarily like to exercise, but sometimes running it out really works.

If I’m super excited about something, and my mind is going a thousand miles a minute, sometimes running helps me calm down and since my mind is elsewhere, I can run for longer without complaining about every single step in my head. It’s a win/win. Afterward, I’m usually too tired to get overly excited about things, and I’ll just passively go over the event in my head instead of jumping up and down about it.

Any exercise will work for this, so feel free to pick your poison. Some people like walking with their dogs, some like yoga. I find yoga too serene, so for me, running is a good way to pound out my pent up energy.

4. Check Your Bank Account

That’s always a sobering experience.

Warning: do this only when your overflowing emotions are positive ones. It will take you down a notch. Never do this if you’re wallowing in hysterical self pity. It will only drive you to drink.

5. Do Something Mundane or Routine

Doing something ordinary, or something that normally bores you, will calm you down as well. I find that any period of time in which I’m freaking out, I’m also the most productive with housework. My adrenaline keeps the vacuum going at top speed, and the regularity of housework helps me calm down.

Some people say cooking calms them down, or even just taking a hot bath.

The difficult thing about all of these tips is getting the motivation to do these things when you’re bursting at the seams with excitement or hysteria. If you’re like me, you’ll want to shop, eat, or pace the floor while frantically calling everyone you know to complain/rejoice/overanalyze the incident. But, I encourage you, next time you’re emotions are getting the best of you, force yourself to try one of these activities before stepping into a mall, restaurant, or grocery store.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. I'd add "Do something that requires your full attention". It doesn't matter whether it's yoga or archery or scrapbooking, as long as it's something that will keep your attention focused on what you're doing.

    • So true, Colette! Reading does that for me – I think that's mainly because I actually have to pay attention lest I skip a line and I don't know what happens. Great tip!

  2. I love to go up and go snowboarding by myself when I really want to ground myself. Being up on the mountain alone is really peaceful for me and I always come home nice and relaxed.

    • addvodka says:

      That sounds like a great idea! I used to snowboard a lot and sometimes by myself, and I know what you mean by it being peaceful! Plus, it's exercise which also relaxes me.

  3. Have you figured out WHY you're over emotional? As an ex-hoarder, I can tell you that everything I did to distract myself from my real emotions didn't solve anything for me until I was willing to face the real issues in my life. It was difficult and emotionally painful to do that but, finally, I am achieving a mindset that tells me it's OK not to spend or overeat anymore. I'm just wondering why you're feeling such extreme emotions …. As someone who had the same problem, that is like a red flag to me.

    • Estrogen is likely why I'm emotional LOL. :) I don't know that emotions are always a red flag – in fact, I think it's healthy to be emotional – it's when people cover it up that it begins to be a red flag of something troubling. I'm learning how to dial it down a notch but I'll likely always been an emotional person. I'm ok with that – it's part of my personality!

      • As someone with a disorder with massive emotional symptoms one thing I was told is that some people are just more emotional than others and will always be that way. Even after dealing with any 'issues' some people feel things more strongly than others, so it's not always a red flag.

        As to the post, great tips! I find exercise is a great one for me.

  4. @prairieecothrif says:

    I find exercise a big one for me. It releases my pent up energy and helps calm my nerves. I always feel so much better.

    • Sometimes, I forget that it's important – emotionally, physically, mentally – to exercise. I'll resist it for awhile and then when I get on the treadmill or out walking my dog, I realize how beneficial it is for me. You're so right – it definitely makes me feel a lot better too!

  5. MyMoneyDesign.com says:

    You need a vacation Daisy! My chill-out technique: Close my eyes and pretend like I’m falling backwards. Your mind will start to make your body feel like it has the weight-less feeling to it. Often things become more clear after this.

    • addvodka says:

      Do I ever! Haha. That's a great technique! I've never heard of it before but I'll definitely have to try it out.

  6. debtntaxes says:

    Like Sean said about snowboarding, I do the same thing on my dirtbike. If I'm angry or frustrated all I have to do is jump on the bike and everything goes away. My mind clears itself and I can relax. Hard to do in the winter though, the damn bike won't start.

    • addvodka says:

      Winter is the worst! I think it's great to have a hobby that can clear your mind – I need to find a physical hobby like that (reading is great but I'd rather find one that I like that's active).

  7. Nice guest post, Daisy. Reading definitely does it for me. It has a way of keeping my brain busy on something that requires me to think and pay attention to detail. Also, you mentioned take a run. Personally, I enjoy walking. I'm lazy as hell, and won't run for any other reason accept to make it on time for an appointment, or to escape a vicious dog.that's chasing me down the street. In any case, staying centered is the best thing that we can do for ourselves on a daily basis.

    • addvodka says:

      What do you normally read when you want to get your mind off of something?

      Haha, I know what you mean. Walking is infinitely better to me than running but I'm always trying to make things more efficient, and that includes burning calories – running burns more in a shorter period of time!

  8. I go straight to the kitchen! The ritual of cooking is always calming.

    • addvodka says:

      Interesting! I hate cooking, but that's probably because my kitchen is small and we don't the best equipment.

  9. Any physical activity usually helps me destress. Taking action on that stress creator helps too.

  10. I like to read to center myself. And sometimes just doing the dishes will help me calm down about whatever I'm excited about. There's something relaxing about washing dishes when I'm mad.

  11. centsofacountrygirl says:

    A good book and a hot bath do wonders for me. Taking half an hour and playing with my cat is very calming too (right up until she catches me with her claws of course – owch) – I guess that would be akin to pet therapy.

  12. budgetdiary says:

    Really enjoyed your post!
    Reading a book is a great way to relax and center yourself – especially motivational books :)

    I'm not sure if checking your bank account would work for me though. I am still very much in student debt and looking at my accounts just make me depressed at times – unless its pay day and I can see my debt going away, slowly :)
    All the best!

    Check out my latest post: http://karmacopia.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/budget

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