Recently I attended a professional seminar on emotional literacy. In the seminar, the idea of a “meta-moment” was introduced. A meta-moment is when you take around 5 minutes out of what you are involved in, and take a step back. Use a meta-moment when you feel like your emotions may be getting out of control, or when you are in an emotionally charged situation. When you use a meta-moment, follow these steps:

  • Breathe: Take breaths through your nose. This is important because breathing through your nose activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that calms you down. Breathing through your mouth triggers your sympathetic nervous system, which is your “fight or flight” response. Experiment alternating between breathing through your mouth, and then try breathing through your nose to see if you can feel a difference. When you are taking a meta-moment, inhale, expand your stomach and rib cage. When you exhale, allow your stomach and ribs to sink down slightly.

  • Think positive: This is time to pretend you are a public relations expert. Try your very hardest to look at the situation in a positive light, at least just for this moment.

  • Positive Self-Talk: Like a boxer about to enter the ring, pump yourself up. “I got this, I got this… I can do this. I’m the best.”

  • Distraction: Do something else that requires all your attention

  • Mindfulness: After you distracted yourself, bring yourself back to the present moment as completely as you can. Do this by noticing the details around you and noticing how you feel physically. REMEMBER: notice don’t judge! Allow yourself to have your feeling.

  • Visualize: Think of something that makes you happy.

  • Space: Put some space between you and the thing overwhelming you. Do this both physically and mentally. Walk away and focus on something else that doesn’t require you to think about the situation.