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How to ride the emotional wave

Small children shriek with glee, scream with anger, wail with sadness. They move from the extremes of emotion back to a place a of neutral fairly rapidly. Who's ever watched a child go from tears to smiles in a matter of minutes and been in awe at the change? They fall, they cry, you kiss them better, and off they go, laughing again. How awesome would it be as an adult to still have this ability!

Social conditioning leads us so far away from our natural state that it becomes really tricky to sometimes even know what we are feeling. When you watch a sad movie and tears roll down your cheeks, how long does it take you to feel calm and happy again? When you're scared, worried, angry, how does this feel inside your body? If you don't enjoy the feeling, do you try to suppress it, deny it, doubt yourself?

Emotions come from the arousal of your nervous system in response to experiences. The experiences are felt in present time. Even remembering an event from your past can trigger the emotions you felt at the time. The millions of chemical reactions taking place in your brain occur because of synapses. The synapses that are part of your nervous system have neurotransmitters that transmit messages around your body. These can be measured as physiological responses - sweating, blushing, heart pounding.

When you experience unremitting intense negative emotion, this dramatically affects your biochemistry and behaviour. The chemical cocktail that occurs in response can have an impact on your happiness hormones leading to mood swings, depression, anxiety, cognitive issues. Negative emotions affect your facial expression and your posture. This then creates a negative biofeedback loop - posture and facial expression further aggravating the emotion. Anger or worry lead to frowning. When you frown you feel more angry and worried. Grief causes the shoulders to hunch to protect the heart, rounded shoulders can lead to feeling sad.

Tips to help you ride the emotional waves:

- Observe your thoughts as they can trigger your emotions.

- Notice if your thinking is based on actual reality or if your thinking is distorted. If you have a belief that no one will ever invite you to dinner, this is probably distorted thinking, leading you to feel sad unnecessarily.

- Observe your posture to understand if this is contributing to negative feelings.

- When you're triggered, sit or stand taller, relax your hands and your jaw.

- Practice smiling even when you may be feeling sad. Pulling silly faces in the mirror is a fun way to lift your mood.

- Observe your speech patterns. Do you say "I'm sad" or I'm feeling sad"? The feeling is easier to change when you acknowledge it's a feeling not a solid state.

- Say "WOW" 10 times to give your face something positive to do.


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