You know that person who's always grumpy, stressed and flies off the handle at the slightest thing? Or maybe you've noticed some days you just feel agitated, moody and can feel your blood pressure rising at the drop of a hat? Ah, the red mist...
It's not like feeling this way actually helps the situation either - hands up who's had a bit of an outburst at their partner, the kids or a colleague, only to regret it 5 minutes later (and maybe for quite a bit longer if they've really taken offence). Usually when we reach snapping point the situation ends up messier than it could have been, relationships suffer and we end up feeling all the worse.
So why is it that sometimes we can keep our cool and other times we could give any 2 year old a run for their money in the strop stakes?
Well, it all basically boils down to our old friend stress. When I'm working with clients we talk about our 'stress bucket', which is a nice way of representing how our stress levels can gradually build up over time.
When our stress is kept in check we feel fine, cope well with life and are able to make logical, rational decisions. When stress levels start to rise - which can be a gradual, barely noticeable process - we tip over into the more primitive 'fight or flight' part of the brain - not the most pleasant place to be and not the best place for good decisions and optimum responses.
For some of us this means becoming anxious, suffering panic attacks, migraines and other physical symptoms such as IBS. Some of us get depressed... and some of us get angry!
Anyone who works in a customer service industry has probably been on the receiving end of a few full stress buckets in their time!
So what can we do to avoid meltdown moments?
There are a few things you can do to immediately help with those stress levels. The first is to ensure you're getting good sleep - quality and quantity. If you're waking up feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep, you will automatically have lowered your stress levels a bit and doing that consistently is so important. If sleep is a problem, please get in touch - I can help you get that back on track.
It's also important to be active in ways you enjoy, and to make time for good quality relationships and social interactions - these both help us produce the wonderful neurotransmitters that keep us mentally healthy and happy. Finally, try to notice little positives every day. Contrary to popular belief it's not a good idea to have a good old moan or scream and let it all out - that just reinforces the message that things are not good and there's lots to be angry and stressed about! I promise you will feel so much better if you can learn not to dwell on stressful issues but look for the good things that are happening in your life instead. Again if this is a struggle, Solution Focused Therapy and Hypnotherapy can help.
And if it's someone else..?
If it's someone you know well, maybe pick a moment when they seem to be in a generally good place rather than prodding the angry bear (!) and have a gentle chat or point them in the direction of this blog.
If it's someone you know less well or not at all, the best thing you can do is remain calm and respectful of their rant and don't get too involved. This becomes a lot easier if you remember it isn't personal.
Take yourself outside of the situation and see it for what it is - they're losing it over one little thing, but actually that will just be the straw that's broken the camel's back - there's probably much more going on in their life that's making them so unhappy. If possible try to lighten the situation and build rapport by talking about something pretty inconsequential or more positive (to encourage their rational mind to regain control). Breathe, then give yourself a bit of nurturing (as above) to help you steady your own emotions!
If you'd like to ask any questions please feel free to get in touch.