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Navigating Emotions in Extraordinary Times

Monday, November 14, 2016 4:34 PM

In light of recent news events, people have felt a range of emotions from happiness to anger, excitement to fear, and a combination of stress and anxiety. As we prepare for the busy holiday season, life will undoubtedly get even more hectic. Robert Farra, PhD, Psychotherapist at NorthShore, offers some guidance on how to handle the next several weeks with grace and compassion as we head into 2017.

HandlingEmotionsNews

  • Be gracious in victory: This has been what the media calls an historic election with many people who are very happy with the outcome. Now is an opportune time to show respect to everyone—not just for those who are like-minded but for everyone who has differing opinions. It’s important that we care for our fellow human being with compassion regardless of our differences.
  • Be gracious in defeat: Yes, it’s difficult to accept defeat but channel that anger or frustration into something positive and productive—make a home cooked meal for a senior, help a friend run errands, serve at a soup kitchen, offer a friendly hello to a stranger you pass on the street. Also, it’s fine to vent with like-minded people in a non-destructive way, and then move on for your own peace of mind.
  • Avoid fighting with family: The holidays bring together family which can prompt debates over politics, religion or rival sports teams. You don’t need to respond. You’ll feel better in the long run. You can also diffuse the situation by redirecting the conversation toward something general like the weather, food, a funny family memory; or shout out a word like “broccoli!” You’d be surprised how that can break the tension and diffuse a tense situation.
  • Unplug from media: Remove yourself from the noise—whether you agree with it or not. Pay attention to your own emotional and physical health. Go for a walk, feel the sun and fresh air, read a favorite book, listen to music, organize your closet, go window shopping.
  • Avoid discussing personal opinions at work: Though it may be tempting, it’s best to focus on your work and not on personal issues. If coworkers discuss sensitive issues openly, you must be willing to listen to all opinions and views. If your views don’t jive with theirs, it’s best to step away. Have a plan: say you need to prep for a meeting, run a quick errand or make a call. 
  • Take care of you: Most importantly, you must be in control of you. Controlled breathing is but one example to help calm the mind, body and soul; and steer away from anger. Clear your mind—get rid of the psychological noise. Focus on something soothing.

How do you relieve stress in hectic times?