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  • When we find ourselves in frustrating situations, we can easily lose control and experience an emotional meltdown.
  • Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this emotional meltdown from occurring, of which includes understanding one’s frustrations, tuning into one’s physical self, and breathing.
  • If you’re feeling frustrated and on the verge of having an emotional meltdown, first take a step back to evaluate your thoughts associated with the frustrating event.
  • Then, consider if your frustrations are really rooted in the present circumstances; it is possible that they’re rooted in a past experience instead.
  • Now, look at where your negative emotions are manifesting and focus on soothing that part of your body.
  • Finally, employ a handful of breathing techniques until you feel calm: diaphragmatic breathing or alternate nostril breathing might get the job done.

I know I don’t have to ask if you’ve ever found yourself in a completely frustrating situation. We’ve all been there: you’re stuck at the DMV, waiting (for what feels like an eternity) in line just to get a number and wait for even longer; you’ve been working extra hard at work to prove your worth and ensure you get that well-deserved promotion… but your lazy coworker gets it instead; or, more simply, everything’s just not panning out the way you hoped and your day sucks.

In any case, you’re on the verge of an emotional breakdown. For some, this means tears are threatening to fill their eyes. For others, this means a racing heart and shaky hands. But for most, it means an influx of stress, negativity, and a worsening of the situation at hand. So, how can we prevent that emotional meltdown from reaching fruition and wreaking complete and utter havoc? Robyn Gold, a licensed clinical social worker, outlines a few steps, of which focus on understanding your frustration, tuning into your body, and practicing different breathing exercises:

1) Evaluate your thoughts associated with the frustration.

When you’re feeling frustrated and like you just might snap, pause. Take a minute to think about why you’re so upset: “One way to handle frustration is to evaluate your thoughts associated with the frustration. Sometimes when people are frustrated, they may find their thinking patterns to be catastrophic (i.e. if they make a mistake, they may beat themselves up for it and have the thought that they can never do anything right),” Gold explains. Then, decide if you’re being a little hard on yourself. And adjust any unhelpful thinking patterns. “In these situations, ask yourself, ‘Is this thought helpful or unhelpful to me right now?’ If the thought is not helpful, ask yourself, ‘What is something I can say to myself instead to help me feel more empowered and calm.’”

2) Determine if you’re upset about a present or past situation.

Now, take some more time to think about whether your frustration truly stems from your current situation or if, instead, it is rooted in something deeper from the past. “Think about whether the frustration is being caused by what you’re actually dealing with in the present, or if your present situation is reminding you of a more emotionally tumultuous, negative situation from your past,” says Gold. “For example, someone who has a history of being bullied in childhood may be more combative or easily angered in the present if a stranger calls them a bad name for no reason on the subway. You can calm this frustration by staying present in the moment.”

3) Tune into your body and where the frustration is manifesting.

Once you’ve dedicated some time to evaluating the frustrating situation as well as your thoughts, look at where your emotions are manifesting in your body. Then, focus on relaxing that part of your body. “If you tune into your body and notice you’re feeling your frustration in your chest, it may be helpful to place a hand on your chest as you breathe to ground yourself,” Gold explains. “Oftentimes, people become frustrated in situations in which they don’t have control. In these cases, there may be other emotions such as fear or anxiety that are underlying or accompanying the frustration. By focusing on what you do have control over, you may feel more empowered to problem solve, which can help you feel less frustrated.

4) Employ different breathing techniques.

Finally, calm down by employing different breathing techniques. Gold recommends a few different approaches, from diaphragmatic breathing to alternate nostril breathing: “There are a couple of different styles of breathing that can help calm your body down. First, try diaphragmatic breathing. You can do this by imagining a balloon in your stomach inflating with the in breath through your nose and deflating with the out breath through your mouth. Another way to try this is to breathe in through your nose while imagining the air going all the way down to your toes, and then breathe more slowly out through your mouth imagining the air coming all the way up your body from your toes. You can also try alternate nostril breathing. In this type of breathing, you can start by covering your right nostril, breathe out and then in through your left nostril. Then, switch by covering your left nostril, breathing out and then in through your right nostril. You can keep alternating as much as you need to until your body calms down.”

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