Advice for Single Moms: How to Maintain Emotional Stability in Any Situation
Work, family, money, health problems —high-stress levels can make it difficult to regulate our emotions. Stay calm mama. Don’t let your emotions hijack your brain. Learn to maintain emotional stability during tough times and make level-headed decisions at work and at home.
What is emotional stability?
Emotional stability is the ability to remain calm and logical in any situation, regardless of how challenging it may be. Emotional stability allows us to manage our reactions, think clearly, and make sound decisions—even under pressure. Emotionally stable people tend to have high emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to be aware of and understand your own emotions and the emotions of others. People with high emotional intelligence can regulate their emotions, set boundaries, and manage relationships effectively—all skills that come in handy during stressful events.
Emotionally stable people don’t allow their environment or the people around them to dictate how they feel or behave during stressful situations. But unfortunately, many of us were never taught how to cope with stress healthily. Instead, we may have seen our parents or other role models fail to regulate their emotions in a healthy way, thus passing on toxic coping strategies.
The Problem with Emotional Instability
Our logic and reasoning skills go out the window when we get upset. Emotional instability can lead to hasty decisions, regretful words, and self-destructive behaviors. For example, you might find yourself snapping at your children over something small or making a significant purchase you can’t afford in the heat of the moment. Essentially, your emotions drive your behavior rather than your reasoning.
The Biology of Stress
During an emotional meltdown, your brain releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Small levels of cortisol drive the human survival instinct, which was helpful back in the day when we needed to run from predators —but high levels of cortisol don’t do us any favors in today’s world.
When cortisol courses through your veins, it narrows our focus and pulls us into fight-or-flight mode. We become more impulsive and less likely to think things through. When we’re in fight-or-flight mode, the logical part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) takes a backseat to the emotional aspect of our brain (the amygdala).
The good news? You can teach your brain to override big emotions and take back complete control of how your brain responds to stress.
How to Build Emotional Stability
Teaching your brain to manage stress in the moment begins long before you’re face to face with a difficult situation. So start by strengthening your emotional bandwidth with proactive measures to support your overall mental health and well-being.
Identify Your Emotional Triggers
The first step to maintaining emotional stability during high-stress situations is reflecting on your personal triggers. Once you know what sets you off, you can begin to develop a plan to deal with those triggers when they inevitably pop up.
For example, if you know that you tend to get overwhelmed when your work schedule gets too hectic, you can start saying “no” to additional projects and commit to leaving the office on time each day. Think about the choices within your control that can help you avoid stressful situations before they happen.
Develop Powerful Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness is the practice of present-moment awareness. When you’re mindful, you focus your attention on the current moment and let go of distractions from the past or future. Research shows that mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve self-awareness, and promote more effective coping strategies during times of distress.
- Meditation: One of the most popular mindfulness practices is meditation. Meditation doesn’t require any special equipment or training—you can do it anywhere, anytime.
- Journaling: Another easy way to get started with mindfulness is to journal each day. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you gain insight into your emotional triggers and develop more effective coping strategies.
- Breathing Exercises: If you’re not into yoga or meditation, that’s OK. There are other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. Just spending a few minutes each day practicing deep breathing exercises can help you feel calmer and centered when stress strikes.
Support Your Mental Health
Another way to build emotional stability is by proactively supporting your mental health. This looks different for everyone, but there are some general things you can do to support your well-being.
- Get plenty of sleep: Most people need around eight hours per night.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
- See a therapist: If you’re struggling to cope with stress, consider seeing a therapist or counselor. Talking about your experiences with a professional can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and promote emotional stability.
How to Maintain Emotional Stability in the Moment
Take a Timeout
Once you feel yourself being overwhelmed by emotions, take a few minutes to yourself to regroup. Step away from the situation and clear your head. Sometimes, all it takes is a short break to calm down and think more clearly.
Focus on Your Breath
When you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or angry, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This triggers a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, making it hard to think straight.
One way to counteract this stress response is by focusing on your breath. Taking slow, deep breaths can help you feel more calm and centered.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, reframe your thoughts in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” tell yourself, “I can handle this.”
Identify Your Emotional Support System
We all need someone to lean on during tough times. So when stress is getting the best of you, reach out to your support system. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or anyone you know will be there for you.
Emotional stability is key to maintaining relationships, keeping a job, and achieving success in life. If you’re struggling to keep it together during times of stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, you’re not alone in this. We all need help from time to time.
The most important thing is to be proactive about your mental health and take steps to promote emotional stability. Then, with a little effort, you can weather any storm that comes your way.
Alright mama, your turn. What does being emotionally stable mean to you? What tricks do you have for keeping you cool in tough situations? Let us know in the comments?
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