We all get upset from time to time. And sometimes, we let things roll off our backs. Other times, especially when were overtired, stressed, or vulnerable – it’s not so easy. Here are three examples.

Maybe youre feeling a bit stressed and someone says, Those are interesting shoes.

Pretty benign comment right, but the shoes you are wearing are sort of weird and youre feeling a bit off. So whether or not the comment was meant to be positive or neutral, suddenly youre filled with feelings about your now ugly shoes. You might spend the rest of the day trying to hide your feet from others and youre distracted with thoughts about what sorts of shoes would be less interesting.

Perhaps you are basically doing okay financially (how lucky is that?) but you got your property tax bill which went up but your house value went down; the same day you got your electric bill and your rate has skyrocketed, and the stock market just seems to be spiraling down, out of control. Well, maybe that one day your mind fills with thoughts about eventually running out of money, then losing your house, and possibly affording a studio apartment, or maybe nothing at all and youll be sleeping on the street begging to work for food.

Another day could start out just fine until you open the paper and read about the 3 people who have died eating cantaloupes. Just last week you had cantaloupe. You start to search where the cantaloupes came from and realized it was your area. Its possible that you could have eaten one of those cantaloupes. Symptoms include headache, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Youre starting to feel a bit sick. Could these symptoms be the sign of something horrible? Should you call the doctor or go to the ER?

Okay, three examples of people taking a bit of information that starts out pretty neutral and takes it to the extreme. They begin a negative spiral of thoughts and end up feeling pretty bad-either anxious or depressed. Well, since most people dont have a therapist following them around to help them rethink negative thoughts here are a few suggestions simply using water to calm yourself down.

  • Get a glass of very cold water. Sit in a quiet area and drink it slowly. Think of past good times.
  • Go to a sink and rinse your hands and wrists with warm water think of this as a bit of a purification ceremony. Let your worries run down the drain.
  • Take an ice cube and rub it on your wrist or hand. If someone asks you what you are doing, you can say youve hurt yourself (which is true, you hurt yourself with your negative thoughts).
  • When emotions are really out of control, use lots of ice. Dont do this one in public, but it works. Fill a bowl of water and ice. Put your face in the bowl. This will calm you downcome up when you need to breathe, but repeat until you feel better. For those who wear mascara, be sure to wash your face after this one!

Photo by J E Theriot, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.