With today's stressors being multiple, constant and prolonged it is quite easy to loose one's cool, which unfortunately, just makes any situation worse.
I call it having a "short fuse syndrome".
So how can you keep your cool and "lengthen your fuse" during times of strife such as your commute in terrible traffic, with angry clients or terrible customer service agents, with aggressive co-workers or with fussy family member? Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain!
Our brain is equipped with two sides of a nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is that which control our response to these multiple, constant and prolonged stressors, our fight or flight is carried out here. On the other side, the parasympathetic rules our ability to rest, relax and repair.
One of the biggest problems we are having in our modern day is the imbalance in the activity of these two parts. This simply means that the sympathetic part of your brain is getting way too much action and the parasympathetic part is being completely left in the dust. However, you can successfully balance this situation out by purposefully engaging in powerful parasympathetic behavior (PB).
PB is different for everyone. It is that person, place or thing that helps you unburden. For some people it is taking a bath, for others it is spending time with their grandchildren. For me, I love to be outdoors near any type of wild life.
The key is you need to do it daily that is right, daily. I have noticed that in order to do break this cycle and work towards creating a balanced nervous system and therefore longer fuse, it isn't the quantity of time spent in PB but the quality and consistency.
I have a patient who lives on the west coast yet works on the east coast. Every morning when he turned on his computer he was greeted with 3 hours of work (due to the time difference) and it was making him a stress ball. So we initiated a "power pause" for his PB.
Each morning, before he turns on his computer he stops, breaths deeply, reflects on his gratitude and purpose, reminds himself of what is really important and centers himself for his day. He started out doing this for only 3 minutes at first, but he is now up to 20. He does it daily and he reports that it has helped him in all stressful situations because he feels more in "control".
WOW! I love that!
It doesn't take long to have the powerful parasympathetic part of your nervous system activated again to help you grow your fuse, balance your brain and keep your cool!