DeStress Monday at School
Managing Challenging Emotions
The stress and strain of emotional burnout are all too real. And often, it feels the most overwhelming at the start of the week. You’re not alone. Use this simple, soothing snow globe practice to calm your mind and think more clearly.
- Find a quiet spot. Imagine your worries are like snowflakes swirling around in a snow globe that’s been shaken hard.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. Visualize your negative feelings falling, just like the snowflakes.
- Continue deep, cleansing breaths as your mind begins to settle and the snowflakes rest on the ground.
- Spend a mindful minute or two to imprint your positive, serene feelings. Reflect upon this during stressful moments.
Albert Einstein once said you can’t solve a problem with the mind that created it. This is especially true when you get hijacked by your own anger, what we sometimes call “blind rage.” Even in bouts of small irritation, irrational emotions can take over and critical thinking goes out the door. Our blood pressure rises and simple communication falters.
The first step in taking yourself back from rage is simply to sit quietly. Instead of fighting your anger with an iron fist or repressing it further, you can use mindfulness to simply observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judgment. As you breathe, notice, and label anger as “anger”, you might become aware of what has been hiding underneath your rage — perhaps fear, depression, even intense loneliness. As you continue to recognize but not identify with these deeper parts of yourself, a kind of critical, even revolutionary wisdom begins to dawn — that you no longer have to keep meeting anger with anger. Instead, by giving yourself the compassionate space to feel yourself fully in each moment, you become more able on the spot to transform “angry mind” into “clear mind,” one that eventually will lead you into more positive, loving actions.
The next time you find yourself railing at a co-worker or even a stranger who has cut you off in line, try this:
- Take a few deep breaths and settle back into your own mind.
- Become aware of your angry thoughts as they arise and label each one “anger.”
- Ask yourself what else you’re feeling: sad, angry, desperate, lonely, etc.
- As each new emotion arises, return to the awareness of your breath to soothe and comfort you.
- Allow your mind to clear and relook at your problem in a calmer way.
We all have strong feelings or emotions sometimes. But, sometimes they can feel overwhelming. Sometimes they might feel so strong, so upsetting that we feel like we can’t handle them. That the feelings or emotions are just too difficult. Sometimes that makes us act out with anger or aggression, or it might make us feel so sad that we withdraw into ourselves. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to handle the feelings we’re having. But we can learn to recognize that these feelings do not have to take over everything or define us.
This audio shows how to notice strong feelings without having them overtake you:
See the full DeStress Monday at School Curriculum