Emotional flooding is a term basically describing the instant you lose your cool and you blow up at the worst possible times. We’ve all been through this situation at least once in our lives! It is very common, yet terribly frustrating when we lash out under a certain amount of stress. And what’s worse is that you sometimes lose it at the most unexpected moments, especially if you’ve been bottling up your emotional reactions for a while. Be they little stressors or more major ones; they all take their toll on us and we explode sooner rather than later! How can we learn to recognise and manage those feelings and thus prevent an emotional flood from taking place? Understanding emotional flooding is key in preventing your next one from spiralling out of your control.
Understand The Physiology
“Flooding is a physiological response to an emotional trigger”. Always pay attention to your feelings when you’re put in a stressful situation, be it a heated argument or simply being on the receiving end of unwanted comments or criticism. Awareness is key here; when under stress it is vey easy for our nervous system to shut down and for our fight-or-flight responses to become activated, thus flooding our system with the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This action is connected to a slowing down of activity in our prefrontal cortex which is the one responsible for rational executive functioning.
When we bring our awareness to these facts we could in fact prevent an emotional eruption that can only make things worse.
Reset in 20
According to emotional researchers, we need 20 minutes to reset our bodies after getting flooded with explosive emotions. Should you feel calm a few minutes after a certain argument, be vey wary that your body may be tricking you, and you could actually still blow up. Make sure to take the required 20 minutes to cool off, resist the urge to vent to anyone including yourself during those 20 minutes. Do any physical activity that can take your mind off your problem such as taking a walk or doing housework.
Yes again and again:) Mindfulness when practiced right will be your life saviour in these situations. While you’re in the heat of the moment, make an effort to detach and observe. Observe yourself, your tone of voice, concentrate on any physical feelings you may be experiencing such as butterflies in your stomach or tightness in your throat. With time and practice you will come to recognise these sensations and they will start to tell you when you’re feeling threatened and about to blow over. Don’t judge yourself during those moments, simply observe what’s going on inside of you so you can learn to override your fight-or-flight instincts and thus manage your flooding emotions.
Despite the fact that we are encouraged to vent and not keep things bottled inside, but if we can’t manage our emotions and responses, no amount of work done afterwards can undo the harm caused by an accidental outburst. Just make note of the three points mentioned above and practice till you make perfect!