3 ways to calm down when the storm is raging inside
How do emotions work, why do we have emotional outbursts and what to do to calm down in a difficult situation? Dmitry Ferapontov, a psychotherapist with 20 years of experience, tells about this.
Dmitry’s webinar – with clear theory and useful practices – can be viewed on our online course “Between Us. Base module” (it’s already running, but you can subscribe to the notification of the next thread). In the meantime, we share a small part of his presentation.
Physiology of emotions
The emotions that we are aware of or are ready to be aware of are born in the depths of our brain, in the so-called parts of the midbrain, where the limbic system exists. There is a tricky thing here that converts the impulse of nerve cells into the release of hormones: this is the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and a number of other elements.
It is important to understand that this is an ancient structure, it works quite independently. But at the same time, it has a connection with the prefrontal cortex, through which we are aware of what is happening to us. Since all connections in the brain are two-way, the cortex can also affect the limbic system. This means that we have some control over our emotions.
Move on. Our entire body is controlled by the autonomic (or autonomic) nervous system. It is strongly influenced by emotions. And she also has two subsections: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is a fight-or-flight response to stress. When we see some kind of danger, we must immediately turn on and give some kind of reaction: either join a fight or run away. The parasympathetic nervous system has a “rest and digest” metaphor: this is our rest, peace, enjoyment. Here we don’t have to do anything, just enjoy and relax.
The basis of our emotional well-being is the balance in the work of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
Normally, the level of activation of the sympathetic nervous system should be slightly higher than that of the parasympathetic. But when a person complains of anxiety or depression, of any negative emotional state, we can say that his sympathetic system has been accelerated very strongly. It constantly produces a feeling of tension and stress.
What is the brain doing?
It turns out that the human brain is constantly “busy” avoiding danger. And a little more achievement of pleasure. In the course of evolution, it so happened that even now, somewhere in the depths of your consciousness, you think about how the tiger would not attack you. We are created in such a way that we are constantly scanning the space around us for danger. We analyze the most ridiculous, the most absurd fears. Most often this happens unconsciously. Anxiety is unaddressed fear.
The brain is also busy experiencing peak emotions, mostly negative ones. This interferes with the work of consciousness, cognitive functions. If a person is nervous, frustrated, or afraid all the time, he cannot analyze simple things. Many experiments have proven that cognitive abilities, speech, counting deteriorate during an emotional crisis. This makes it difficult to build relationships with each other.
Control over emotions
Emotions are an explosion of the sympathetic system. Therefore, whatever you feel – fear, anger, anger – you first need to move into a neutral, calm state. That is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
When you are sad or angry, do not think about how to quickly become joyful and cheerful. You won’t be able to. First you need to go into a neutral state.
If any of you have driven a car with a manual transmission, remember: there is a neutral speed. You have to go through it all the time. The same thing happens if we want to control emotions. Let’s find out how to do it.
Relaxation of the tongue
Get into a comfortable position (preferably not standing) and concentrate on relaxing your tongue. Try to relax your tongue for a few seconds. It should spread over your mouth like something soft or runny. Like jelly, jelly or jellyfish. He is completely relaxed and weak-willed, you cannot move him, you cannot talk. The mouth can be anything – don’t think about it. Most likely, it will open slightly, because during this exercise, the circular muscle of the mouth automatically relaxes in you, and then the muscles of the cheeks. When you relax your tongue and relax your face, try to experience anxiety in this state. You will understand that it is impossible.
Concentrate. List 5 things you currently see, 4 sounds you hear, 3 sensations your body feels, 2 smells that are in the air, and 1 taste. At first, this exercise may take 30-40 minutes, but then everything will happen faster.
Connect with people you want to be like emotionally. If you are looking for peace, you should not surround yourself with those who are anxious, depressed, or overwrought.