When you’re feeling anxious, upset, angry, or otherwise in a bad emotional state, a good general approach to fix it, in escalating levels of time and probability of success, is to do emotional CPR. CPR stands for cognitive, physiological, and reset.
Cognitive refers to cognitive approaches, using just your mind. They’re usually the quickest and least intensive ways of fixing something. They aren’t necessarily easy per se, but they are not very disruptive. If you’re having a bad time at the office or in a difficult conversation, you can do it without anybody noticing. They also are often quite quick.
These involve things like:
If those don’t work, changing your physiology will often do the trick. Sometimes your thoughts cause your feelings, but sometimes your feelings cause your thoughts, and a way to kickstart your feelings is to change your chemistry. This can be things like:
Lastly, if none of those work, you can do what I call a hard emotional reset. If physiology is like closing a program and restarting it to see if it stops glitching, an emotional reset is restarting the whole computer. What constitutes an emotional reset will vary from person to person, but the general approach is to pull out all the stops. Some examples might be:
Whatever your cup of tea is, it’s one of the things that reliably gets your mind off the problem (perceived or actual) and gets you in a good mood. This, understandably, should be saved for last because it takes more time and energy investment. Sometimes it can be short, but from what I’ve seen, for most people, if the things before haven’t worked, usually it takes at least an hour to fully reset.
So the quick recap is:
I hope that the next time you’re feeling down that following this method will help you.
I'm an effective altruist who co-founded Charity Science Health and Charity Entrepreneurship.