Welcome if you followed the link from my devotion published today at Proverbs 31 Ministries. I talked about feeling frustrated from the get-go one morning and struggling to get a grip on my emotions. That particular day I was battling frustration and disappointment (laced with a little selfishness I'm sure). Other days it has been stress, sadness, envy, anger, or feeling hurt by someone.
In a Gallup poll a few years ago, 90% of respondents described women's core nature as "emotional." And according to the National Academy of Sciences, they're right. The Academy says, "Women's brains are wired to both feel and recall emotions more keenly than the brains of men."
I think that's both a plus and a minus. It's mainly only a minus when we can't gain the upper hand on our flying emotions. By the way, suppressing them isn't the same as dealing with them.
An article in Scientific American warns that, "Women who hold back feelings of anger may end up more irate in the long run. According to new research, women experience a rebound effect when they suppress angry emotions, which can result in greater feelings of fury."
You're probably thinking, tell me something I don't know! So what can we do when we feel our emotions getting the best of us?
Number one on my list of responses is PRAYER. Take those unruly feelings to the One who can handle them. Give God your permission to rule over them. He is the God of all Comfort, the Prince of Peace, and the Author of a sound mind. Claim your sound mind and ask Him for peace in Christ's name.
Also tops on my list is READING the Bible. This is the one I turned to the day I wrote the "Feeling Emotional" devotion. Grab hold of a relevant scripture and repeat it until you can believe it. You can rewire your thinking with the Bible. I use verses to replace my overly emotional - often irrational - thoughts with eternal reality from the Reality Maker Himself. Try reading the Psalms.
It's proven that EXERCISE tames our stress and get us thinking clearly again. 15-20 minutes on my treadmill with upbeat music playing does me a lot of good when I'm angry or depressed. It helps when I'm feeling stuck or out of control. And as Elle explained in the movie Legally Blonde: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't kill their husbands. They just don't." :)
That leads to the next one on my list, HUMOR. Everybody needs somebody who can make them laugh. Laughter not only makes us feel better, but it's good for our health according to Proverbs 17:22. Laughter has an amazing by-product - it puts our problems in perspective. It's a gift from God. Research shows it can stimulate our problem-solving abilities as well.
Sometimes I just have to WRITE. Spilling my feelings onto the page of a journal unburdens my mind. And writing a letter to someone who hurt me can unburden my heart. Most of the time I decide never to send the letter, and that's OK because it served its purpose by helping me think through things and calm down. Even writing a to-do list can keep me from feeling overwhelmed some days.
What do moms do when a toddler gets upset? Often they redirect them. They shift their focus off the upsetting thing to something more pleasant - maybe point out their favorite toy. So next on my list is REFOCUS on something. Stop stewing and start doing something productive. Immerse yourself in a project you enjoy. Write something. Cook something. Plant something. Sew something. Scrap something. Clean something. Get your mind off it.
Be careful here that you don't use this one to just sweep things under the proverbial rug and never deal with what needs dealing with. Use diversion to calm down and let your subconscious sort things through. Then face it once you are more centered. Or, use diversion when what you are facing cannot be dealt with or changed (think Serenity Prayer here).
And finally, research shows that dark CHOCOLATE can be of help in soothing emotions. You didn't really think I would write a post on dealing with women's emotions without mentioning chocolate did you? But as I point out in It's No Secret, numbing our emotions with food can cause additional problems. Namely, love handles. So use moderation.
These are just a few of my strategies. If you've got a solution for reigning in your emotions on days when they're flying - please share and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book mentioned above.
Meanwhile, here's wishing us both an emotionally peaceful day.