I am one of those people who cries at commercials, laughs way too loudly at corny jokes, and gets angry at the smallest of issues. I believe that crying is a good release mechanism, that yelling out the car window makes things more fun, that the best movies are the ones that are the tackiest. Call me sensitive, melodramatic, hot-headed and nonsensical, but I prefer the word emotional. I am a sane person with rational thoughts, but my emotions more often than not override all other senses. This leaves me at the complete mercy of my emotions, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. As you can imagine, this can create some difficulties in my everyday life, especially in high-pressure situations I may find myself in.
I’m not one to suppress my emotions, but sometimes, it makes sense to choose to react with the rational and mental side of things, as opposed to the emotional. As I grow closer to entering the professional world, I’ve begun to understand the importance of keeping my personal emotions and feelings under wraps. No one likes to be the cause of an emotional outburst no more than they like to be subject to one. I’ve had to learn several of these lessons the hard way, but they all translated into valuable experiences.
Here are 5 ways to handle your emotions in high-pressure situations.
Identify the emotion
Sometimes fixing the problem starts with identifying it. By giving it an identity, you can find the solution tailored to that specific issue. In some of my retail job experience, there were some times where my patience was tested by an annoying or rude customer. I was able to recognize the emotion as frustration, which tends to be a big one for me. Once I knew I was becoming frustrated, I was able to redirect my thoughts towards calmer ones. In the end, the shopping experience was positive for both the customer and I, despite some original strain. The customer had a good shopping day and I didn’t get into trouble, both very good things.
Act the opposite of the emotion
Just like smiling when you are sad can actually make you happy, in high-pressure situations, sometimes acting the opposite of how you feel could end up alleviating the emotion. During one of my required presentations for a college organization, I found myself extremely nervous. Even though I wanted to turn into a stammering, stuttering mess, I went out of my way to appear confident. By acting as if I knew what I was doing, I ended up not just looking like it, but I started to believe that I did actually know what I was doing. Fake it ’til you make it, right?
Imagine how you look
If you imagine how you look and behave when you are experiencing an emotion, it gives you some perspective on what a coworker or peer may witness. If you are experiencing anger, does your face get red? Do you start to raise your voice? If you wouldn’t want to witness an emotional outburst, do your best to avoid causing or starring in one. No matter how at home you may feel in a workplace setting, your coworkers aren’t your family or close friends. Leave the emotional release for behind closed doors.
Write down what you are feeling
Emotional logs are a thing. I know because I have one. Every time I find myself feeling a particular emotion, I write it down in the log and I also describe what I think triggered it. I’ve begun to identify some trends and it’s been helpful because I can avoid what has previously set me off. Whether it’s in the notes on your phone or a physical notebook, journaling your emotions can help you figure out what caused your emotional triggers in the first place.
Just walk away for a little bit
When all else fails, take a deep breath and walk away. Sometimes, it’s impossible to master what you may be feeling. You may be feeling like a spring wound up way too tight and there is no way to avoid it. Giving yourself some space and removing yourself from the situation may be the only way to truly avoid an ugly confrontation. Go for a quick walk if you can and do your best not to let your emotions fester. Remind yourself that you can feel these emotions later, just not at this moment. There’s a time and a place for everything and an emotional outburst is typically meant to be done in private.
We all experience emotions in a variety of ways. For people like me who choose to let their emotions run wild, it’s important to remember to rein them in at times. If all else fails, just smile, because happiness is the greatest emotion of them all.
Want tools for becoming your best self?
Get access to our 40 favorite personal growth recommendations (books, documentaries, and more) that inspire us.