how I learned to stay grounded
After a lot of positive feedback about my mental health posts before, here's another one hihi!
This post will be all about how to stay grounded and learn how to control your emotions. I've based all my opinions about research through my job (as a special needs caregiver) and from personal experiences.
I used to have such a bad mood and short temper before. Some of you, who've been following me for a longer time, already know that I made quite a journey through life myself. I wasn't happy about myself and wanted to change... I especially wanted to change my temper. I scream and shout a lot and this never made me happy. Being angry all the time isn't really helpful. So I really needed to change that. I felt so bad about myself after every rant.
What's also important to know is that my temper was getting in the way of my rationality. Emotions are not bad, but when they are so strong that the get in the way of your rationality, they aren't really healthy anymore. You need to be able to make correct decisions all the time.
My emotions used to be so heavy that I got panick attacks (also blogged about that). They really blocked me and made me think that I was dying. With this going on in my mind, you can easily tell that I wasn't thinking straight.
So then I decided to make this change. It's an entire process and it took/ takes a while. I've been practicing what I learned over the entire past year. You don't make these changes overnight. But I think that it's worth the work.
Last week, I finally noticed a small difference in myself.
There was a biker, right before me, who almost killed a rat. The poor animal wasn't dead right away and was suffering so badly. Normally I'd be so extremely angry and sad for this. Now, I stayed calm, killed the animal and didn't even cry. Ofcourse my feeling are still there. I was very very very sad about killing an innocent animal (vegan yes...) but I didn't cry. Also a little sidenote, the animal had to be killed sadly enough because I could instantly see that she was dying but the process just took so long and for me it was heartbreaking to watch. And also, I'm not afraid of rats and they are not dirty or gross whatsoevever in my opinion.
My point here is not about the rat. It's about the fact that I realised that for the first time in a long time, I finally didn't cry for something that was really hurtfull to me. And this is how I noticed that I'm changing...
So then onto the steps on how I'm learning to control my emotions more. I'm completely not where I want to be yet, but I'm improving already. It's all about the process. It takes time and work but it's worth it. So if there's anyone out there that I can help with writing this blog, then I'm ofcourse happy to help!
Oh and I also share some fave relaxing photos from the last year haha! ZENNNN...
1) Learn to understand your emotions.
Think about what emotions you actually have and which ones you'd want to change. For me, I already learned to change my fears and now I'm learning to change my anger.
You need to reflect (a lot), after feeling this emotion. You need to focus on what exactly you've felt at that time; how it felt in your body and what it did to your brains. With this learning process, you learn to stay focused after the heavy emotions. You're paying more attention to it and this helps you to accept feeling them. Acception is everything. You'll always feel something, that's okay. But it's often not okay how you react to it.
After every heavy emotion, I tell myself what I've felt and why I felt this way. Reflection is key.
Some key questions are: How do I feel right now, in my mind and body? What is happening to me? How is it affecting me? What is this feeling actually telling me? How do I want to react another time? ...
2) Accept your emotions.
After acknowledging these feelings it's important to accept the feelings too. It's okay to have feelings, that doesn't make you a weak person. We all have feelings. We just tend to feel things differently. SOme of us have stronger feelings, others have softer feelings. Some of us decide to let our feelings take the lead, some of us don't..
After accepting them, it will get a lot easier. I learned to understand my fears more and I learned to let them go faster afterwards because I knew what was happening. It didn't feel that overwhelming anymore and that was important. I felt more in control. I'll tell you below how this process works for me.
How I learned to accept me feelings is by simply telling myself: "okay Steph, you're doing it again, this is the situation that upset you before, so you know what to do, do not freak out again. It's okay to feel this, but YOU are in charge now. You decide yourself, to control them...".
3) Let emotions go away faster.
I learned that accepting my emotions, and really focussing on understanding them, helped me with letting it all go faster. I allow myself now, after practicing, to freak out for about 10 seconds. I let all the emotions sink in and then I focus on stopping them.
I'll tell you how I did this with my fears. I'd love to teach you guys how now I'm learning to do this with my anger, but I'm not where I want to be yet so I'm not sharing this with you guys yet. The process is still the same though.
First a little sidenote about my fears and stress: I used to stress and freak out about everything and had massive fears of failure, with almost everything I did and every aspect of my life. This was so bad at one point, that even going to ballet class was stressy for me... Ballet is my hobby and passion, it should really NOT freak me out. SO I had to change.
I also had this terrible fear with driving the car (or trying to learn to drive a car). Learning to drive a car was total horror for me. I freaked out the night before every single lesson and couldn't sleep that well that night because I was so afraid. Crazy, right...knowing that I had 2 lessons a week. It was such a horror. But after a while, I learned to stay grounded and not to focus on the fear and I realised that it went away a lot faster!
I'll tell you guys how I did this below in the next step but it's all about letting go the focus on the bad emotion and deciding to take control back.
4) FInd ways to calm yourself down: grounding.
So back to the car-driving story: as told before; driving a car was horror for me. I was afraid of every aspect of it. But I learned to stay grounded and control my fears.
Method that worked for me: focus on breathing. I used to hyperventilate all the time and made myself totally ill.
I was making my stomach so upset, that I used to throw up a lot while being stressed. I went to the doctor for this a billion times. I also took 2 times a 10 session course at relaxation therapy, which didn't help fully. It didn't help because I learned to control my breathing, but I didn't learn to control my emotions while doing it.
I learned that meditation has helped me SOOOO much! It helps me to let go the emotions and focus on breathing instead of the bad feelings.
Now, every time that I freak out, I use my meditation methods. I just close my eyes for 2 seconds and tell myself to breath. I even did this in the car. I pulled over and focussed on breathing again and letting the thoughts flow away.
5) Try to calm yourself down in other situations too, similar to the ones that upset you before.
Back to the ringin the car- story: So before I used to freak out so badly that I needed to pull over...Now, when there's a lot of traffic, I still am afraid in my car (not gonna lie here ;) ) but I don't freak out anymore. I don't even need to close my eyes anymore: I just breath and then I let go. I don't even have to stop the car anymore.
This all took me a couple of months to learn that and to really implement my breathing-meditation into my life but is was really worth it.
I don't have other tips for you guys. I wish that there was some kind of crazy technique to use but it's only about breathing and learning to focus correctly... Starting with breathing correctly is EVERYTHING.
Now, I do this grounding technique while dancing too. I have a new dance teacher who is also preaching this method and who's learning us to use the floor and really connect with it ot stay grounded. So she's pushing me to use my personal techniques now while dancing as well.
I use this grounding method at work too. I work with kids with autisme, mental disabilities & behavioral problems and I teach them every time to not let themselves lead through emotions. Emotions get in the way of your rationality.
My fave quote lately is also about this matter too. It says: "Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings". So with this in mind, I'm learning to guide myself more rational through life. As a really emotional, kinda dramatic person, this is not easy for me but worth the effort!
I want to end this post with some other tips that might help you guys, but very shortly since I really do believe that the most helpful tip is the breathing- tip.
- Learn to use your brain differently. It's used to focus on the bad side in every single thing. You can learn to tricking your brain into positivity.
- Decide to be happy: as told a lot before in my posts: happiness is really a decision!
- Learn to do other helpful things instead of freaking out: go writing, go walking, go punching, tear apart paper, play outside with a ball, use a tangle, listen to music, go dancing, go drawing,... or even: ask for help from a friend/ parent/ collegue/ sibling,...
- Learn to make the right decisions: I always use the Homer Simpson metaphore: where he has a little devil on his right shoulder and an angel in his left shoulder. Will I always want to choose to follow hte devil? Probably not because of the bad consequenses.
- Learn more about the consequences of your bad habits. Like: if I freak out now, I'm probably going to need a bathroom because of my stomach.. is this helping me?
So what have we learned here? Breathing is important in order to let go. Letting go means focussing on other things. And: our emotions get in the way from our rationality so we really shouldn't let our emotions lead us all the time.
If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to contact me on my social media or to send me an email!
Thanks a lot for reading all of this. Have a very HAPPY weekend.