Direct from
Dr. Lowenstein

Curb Your Tendency to Overreact

Perhaps life has gotten especially busy, and suddenly you find yourself overreacting to things that you once easily ignored or dismissed. Or maybe you’re more inclined to overreact in certain situations or with certain people. It’s also possible that you could be overreacting more now than you did in the past. Whatever the case, almost everyone knows what it feels like to react excessively and appear as if you’ve lost control of your emotions. It not only complicates the situation, but it can be both physically and emotionally hard on you–and the other people involved.

If you’re concerned that you may be losing the ability to control your emotions, the following tips may help.

Pause and evaluate the situation. When you’re upset, start by taking a few deep breaths. This technique helps you physically relax and gives you time to think about an alternative way to respond. You can also think more clearly about what’s really upsetting you and how to avoid an emotional outburst. 

Determine what’s fueling your reaction. Stress is often the culprit. Sometimes bigger, highly stressful situations can cause an overreaction, but that’s not always the case. Even the little things can pile up quickly, and before you know it you’re operating on a short fuse. 

Think about what’s going on. There may be times when you realize that you’ve been overreacting or that your thoughts are a bit irrational. Maybe you’ve misinterpreted the situation and it’s not as bad as it seems. Or perhaps you’re making an assumption based on past circumstances that no longer apply. The ability to recognize when you might be overreacting makes it easier to adjust your response.   

Learn from past behavior. Take some time to consider how you’ve responded to certain situations in the past. You may be able to identify specific triggers or patterns of behavior that cause you to overreact. Once you understand what’s behind the behavior, you can learn how to avoid impulsive overreactions.

Improve your communication skills. When something or someone triggers your emotions and you’re tempted to overreact, find a different way to express how you’re feeling. By learning to communicate effectively, you can prevent outbursts and minimize misunderstandings. Start by being a good listener and try to understand the other person’s point of view. At the same time, let people know how you feel in an assertive but respectful manner.

Manage your life. Because overreacting often occurs when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to establish boundaries with your time. Try not to take on more than you can handle, and learn how to say no when necessary. When you are overcommitted, it can lead to frustration and in turn a tendency to overreact.

Image by Davidqr from Pixabay

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.