Overreacting to small things? Here are 9 ways to stop being emotionally reactive

We all overreact to small things from time to time. But if your impulsive nature is causing more harm than good, here's how to stop overreacting.
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Learn how to stop overreacting to everything! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 17 Dec 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Has it ever happened to you that you overreacted to something that another person could easily let go of? Well, all of us are guilty of doing this. Overreacting is when your reaction is much bigger than the problem. This can come out in the form of yelling, slamming things, or feeling extremely angry. The things that trigger these overreactions are different for each of us. If you find yourself getting overly angry, upset, or defensive over little things, take comfort in knowing that there are certain things you can do to manage your emotions more effectively. Come, let us tell you how to stop overreacting.

What is overreacting?

Overreacting means having an emotional reaction, or reacting to something in an excessive manner. It  can be a result of piled-up emotions, too much stress that makes even small things seem larger than they are. Other times, it might be linked to personal expectations that are not fulfilled. While it’s okay to feel upset at times, overreacting can make things more complicated. Instead of helping, it might create more mess and add to the stress.

Hence, to help you control your emotions and reactions, Health Shots got in touch with Koushani Sarkar, a certified counseling psychologist. She says, “Dealing with situations where we tend to overreact requires us to develop coping mechanisms and adopt methods to better control our emotions.”

How to stop or avoid overreacting?

1. Pause and take a breath

One of the simplest yet most effective way to not overreact is to avoid having a conversation or saying anything when your emotions are high or you come across a potentially triggering situation. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly. This brief moment allows you to step back from the immediate emotional response, providing the opportunity to collect your thoughts and approach the situation with a clearer mindset.

2. Collect yourself

Taking a step back doesn’t only involve a physical pause but also an emotional one. Collect yourself by consciously disengaging from the intense emotions. Find a quiet space if possible, and give yourself a few moments to reflect. This will prevent impulsive reactions and pave the way for a more composed response.

3. Understand your thoughts

Overreacting often stems from distorted thoughts or misinterpretations of a situation. Take a moment to analyse what you’re thinking. Are your thoughts based on assumptions or facts? Understanding your thought process allows you to challenge irrational beliefs and replace them with more balanced perspectives.

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Try to understand what you are thinking! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment without judgment. Engaging in mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can enhance your awareness of your emotions. Sarkar says, “By staying mindful, you create a mental space that enables you to observe your reactions without immediately acting on them.”

Read on: How to start meditation if you’re feeling too stressed in your life

5. Identify triggers

Understanding the specific situations or words that trigger your overreactions is crucial. Reflect on past instances where you’ve overreacted and identify patterns. By recognising your triggers, you can prepare yourself for challenging situations. This self-awareness empowers you to choose how you respond, rather than reacting impulsively based on emotions.

6. Communicate effectively

Often, overreaction occurs due to a lack of effective communication. Improve your communication skills by expressing your thoughts and feelings assertively and respectfully. When you feel triggered, communicate your concerns calmly and listen actively to the perspective of others. Effective communication can prevent misunderstandings that may lead you to unlock the secret to stop overreacting.

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Put your points effectively in front of someone. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Set realistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations can set the stage for overreacting. Evaluate whether your expectations align with reality, and adjust them if necessary. Setting realistic expectations for yourself and others reduces the likelihood of disappointment and frustration, minimising the potential for overreaction.

8. Establish healthy boundaries

Overreacting can be a result of feeling overwhelmed or invaded. Establishing healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life is essential. Clearly communicate your limits and learn to say no when necessary. Having well-defined boundaries protects your emotional well-being and prevents overreaction triggered by feeling of being stretched too thin.

Also read: Dating a highly sensitive person? 10 ways oversensitivity can ruin a relationship

9. Develop empathy

Cultivating empathy enables you to see situations from others’ perspectives. When you empathize, you acknowledge that people may have different experiences and emotions. This understanding can mitigate knee-jerk reactions, fostering more compassionate and thoughtful responses. Before reacting, take a moment to consider the other person’s feelings and intentions, creating a more empathetic environment.

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Try to understand someone else’s perspective as well! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We hope these tips will help you manage your emotions and avoid overreacting to small things!

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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