How to Recover From Emotional Exhaustion

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Morning After: The Worst News

First Thing: You’re under no obligation to start making lemonade immediately. Know yourself: “I’m not good at emotional multitasking, so when I try to soldier on like nothing’s wrong, things start to fall apart,” says Stein. Stay put beneath that duvet, and wallow if you need to. That said, many people benefit from staying in motion (rallying friends, organizing meals). “Meditation or exercise, when followed up with concrete action, can help shake the brain out of its threat mode— when we’re primed to anticipate future negative events and remember past ones,” says Ian Robertson, Ph.D., a scientist at the Center for BrainHealth, at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the author of The Stress Test. Or try this light-hearted (and temporary) distraction: “I call it ‘rando Baying,’” says Stein. “I enter three random words into the eBay search bar, and when I hit a combo with a single result under $10, I buy it. It sounds crazy, but it’s a reminder that life can be totally random. Sometimes it’s horrible, life-changing news, and sometimes it’s ‘blue,’ ‘chili,’ ‘fishhook’ earrings.”

Keep in Mind: When the show absolutely must go on, even with bad news weighing you down, name the elephant in the room. “I was once scheduled to give a speech at a conference, and right before that I got word that my daughter had been hospitalized,” says Marti Erickson, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and a cohost of the podcast Mom Enough. “I couldn’t get a flight home until a few hours later, so I went ahead with the event. I began by telling the audience very briefly what I was facing. Just naming it helped me shift my focus to my topic and give a good speech.”

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