How To Reduce Emotional Reactivity


Ever feel like a live wire, buzzing with emotions at the slightest provocation? That’s emotional reactivity in action. Like an unpredictable thunderstorm that turns sunny days into storms, it can wreak havoc on our mental health and relationships.

The emotional turbulence we experience is not just about feeling too much. It’s about reacting impulsively to those feelings—stress, anger, or hurt—that prevent us from seeing things objectively.

This post promises a deep dive into understanding this reactive state of mind, its implications on your well-being and interpersonal relationships, how mindfulness practices or therapy approaches could offer solace, and, more importantly, strategies for reducing emotional reactivity before it starts messing with your life.

Sounds intriguing?

A wave of revelations awaits you. Are you ready to navigate these stormy seas?


What is emotional reactivity?

Emotional reactivity is like a temper tantrum of the mind, an overblown reaction to stress, anger, or hurt. This intense emotional reaction can distort our perceptions and prevent us from seeing situations objectively.

Picture this: You’re on one of those never-ending Zoom calls when someone makes a comment that rubs you the wrong way. Suddenly, you feel angry and overlooked; your pulse quickens, and adrenaline surges through your veins – congratulations. You’ve just had an emotionally reactive moment.

Our brains are divided into logical and emotional parts. The issue arises when we let emotions steer our reactions instead of reason.

The key to reducing such impulsive reactions is emotion regulation skills like mindfulness practice and active listening; instead of lashing out at colleagues or loved ones because something ‘triggered’ us, we can learn how to take deep breaths (yes, literally) before reacting impulsively.


examples of emotional reactivity


Examples of Reactivity

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where your emotions got the best of you, you’ve experienced emotional reactivity. We have that immediate, knee-jerk response to certain conditions or comments. But what does it look like in real life? Let’s explore some examples.

Sudden Outbursts at Work

Imagine this: You’re a small business owner, and one of your employees makes an error that costs the company time and money. Instead of calmly addressing the issue, you explode with anger on the spot. This is a classic example of emotional reactivity – letting your feelings dictate your actions without taking a moment to think things through.

Taking Things Personally as Healthcare Professionals

Maintaining composure in healthcare can be challenging due to high stress levels and emotionally charged situations. For instance, if a patient criticizes how long they had to wait for their appointment or questions your competence as a professional based on something trivial like handwriting clarity, reacting defensively by snapping back at them would display emotional reactivity.

Frustration Over Student Performance As Educators

Educators often face moments when students struggle with understanding concepts despite repeated explanations. In such instances, feeling frustrated and responding impatiently shows emotional reactivity instead of approaching these challenges with empathy and patience.

Note: Recognizing these patterns is the first step towards learning to become less reactive.


How To Be Less Emotional?

Becoming less reactive starts with awareness – noticing when our emotions are taking the driver’s seat. It also involves developing healthier coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness practices, or seeking support from a holistic coach who can provide personalized strategies for managing emotional reactivity.

Remember: Emotional reactivity is not a life sentence. You can learn to respond rather than react with practice and patience, leading to more balanced relationships and overall well-being.


why am I so emotional


Breathing Deeply & Listening Actively: Weapons Against Emotional Reactivity

If you find yourself often high-strung due to emotional reactivity but don’t know how to stop being so emotionally reactive, signs flashing all around—there’s hope yet. Start with practicing active listening during discussions, which involves hearing what’s said and understanding it deeply before responding.

Taking some time off—stepping away—from heated discussions can also help cool down strong emotions.

Mindfulness Practice: Your Personal Zen Master

Mindfulness practice, a hot favorite among wellness enthusiasts and everyone messing with their lives, is another effective tool to reduce emotional reactivity. It helps us stay focused on the present moment without being swayed by our biases.

So next time your emotions threaten to run amok—remember—you have the power within you to tame them. Let’s no longer allow emotional pain or stress to be breeding grounds for reactive responses.

Key Takeaway: 

When stress or hurt kicks in, our minds can overreact, skewing how we see things. Have you ever felt that surge of anger during a Zoom call because someone rubbed you incorrectly? That’s emotional reactivity for you. But guess what? You’ve got control over this. With active listening and mindfulness exercises, taking slow breaths before letting your impulses take charge, and choosing to step back from tense situations—you can reign it in.


The Impact of Emotional Reactivity on Mental Health

When you’re experiencing intense feelings, it’s like being on a wild rollercoaster with no safety harness. You might feel out of control, high-strung, and even scared. That’s emotional reactivity at play.

Sometimes, these intense reactions stem from trauma history, making us react impulsively to stressors. And while feeling overwhelmed is normal now and then – we are human, after all. You continually have explosive reactions instead of thoughtful responses to scenarios; it may be time for self-examination.

Understanding the Effects of Emotional Reactivity on Physical Well-being

But let’s not forget that our mind-body connection isn’t one-way traffic: our bodies also bear the brunt when we experience extreme emotional pain.

This hyperactive state releases hormones like cortisol into your system, leading to inflammation and increasing mortality risk over time. Breathe deeply. Discover how activating your parasympathetic nervous system can help diminish cortisol concentrations in the body – something with scientific backing. 

The bottom line? While being emotionally reactive tends to come naturally to us (we’re wired for survival, after all), there are ways to manage it. Your emotional well-being is worth the effort of practicing active listening to couples or cognitive behavioral therapy.


Strategies to Reduce Emotional Reactivity

Emotional reactivity can feel like a runaway train, but there are effective ways to reduce it. One strategy is active listening, which lets you understand others’ perspectives and control your emotional responses.

The Role of Active Listening in Reducing Emotional Reactivity

Active listening means fully engaging with the person speaking and showing genuine interest in their words. Rather than waiting for your say, it’s all about genuinely grasping what the other person is conveying. Listening actively makes us less likely to react impulsively as our focus shifts from self-centered thinking to empathy.

If you’re asking yourself how to be less emotional, start by practicing active listening techniques during conversations—especially heated ones. Doing so gives you time and space to process what’s being said before responding.

This practice also promotes mindfulness—a state where one focuses on the present moment without judgment—which can further help manage emotional reactivity. Incorporating mindfulness practices into daily routines allows us to calm amidst chaos and regain perspective when strong emotions threaten our peace.

Avoiding immediate reactions isn’t easy; sometimes, we need a temporary break from certain situations that trigger high-stress levels or anger. Stepping away allows us some breathing room – if deep breaths are part of your calming routine. This is enough time for cooler heads (yours included) to prevail.

Note: “Diffusing heated situations requires patience – let go of pride if necessary because harmony should always win over ego.”


Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

Emotions can get messy. But imagine if you could regulate your emotional reactivity just by being present in the moment. Welcome to the realm of awareness.

Mindfulness involves focusing on your current experience not letting past regrets or future anxieties hijack your peace. It’s about taking a deep breath and acknowledging our feelings without judgment or immediate reaction.

So, how does this tie into emotional regulation? When practicing mindfulness, we train our brains to respond rather than react impulsively. This is especially beneficial for reducing emotional reactivity because it lets us step back from our feelings and examine them objectively before acting out on them.

The Role of Mindfulness Practice in Reducing Emotional Reactivity

If you’ve ever felt like strong emotions are messing with your life, incorporating a mindfulness practice may help bring much-needed balance.

Studies show that those who regularly engage in mindfulness exercises have improved emotion regulation skills – they tend to feel less overwhelmed by their feelings and can manage stressful situations more effectively.

Active Listening: A Key Element in Mindful Communication

A crucial part of effective communication is active listening – not only hearing words but also understanding their intention. Have you ever had someone listen so intently that you felt honestly heard? That’s active listening.

Regarding emotional regulation, active listening helps reduce misunderstandings, often leading to emotional reactivity. When we feel heard and understood, it reduces the chance of reacting impulsively.

Bottom line? By cultivating mindfulness, we can gain greater insight into our own emotions and be more sympathetic to the feelings of others – a beneficial outcome for everyone.

Key Takeaway: 

Keeping emotions in check is easier said than done. Mindfulness can help you save a cool head by letting you stay present and take note of your feelings without judgment. This awareness leads to better emotional regulation and less reactivity. Active listening also plays a considerable part – when we truly understand others’ intentions, it curbs impulsive reactions.


active listening skills


Therapy Approaches for Emotional Reactivity

The journey to better emotional regulation can feel like a mountain climb. But with the right therapy approaches, it’s more of an invigorating hike than a grueling ascent.

Behavior Therapy as a Solution for Emotional Reactivity

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may offer a reprieve from extreme reactions by teaching practical emotion regulation skills to those feeling overwhelmed by their emotions. CBT helps manage powerful emotions by teaching practical emotion regulation skills.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, often used in couples therapy settings, focuses on understanding and changing thought patterns that lead to harmful actions or feelings. It can be highly successful in diminishing responsiveness to emotions and enhancing connections between people.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), another form of behavior treatment, combines standard CBT techniques with mindfulness practices to help individuals balance their intense emotions without dismissing them entirely. This approach encourages taking deep breaths before reacting impulsively – transforming those knee-jerk reactions into thoughtful responses.

In couples therapy, these strategies are applied within romantic relationships. The goal is managing emotional reactivity and actively listening to your partner’s experiences and feelings—ensuring both parties feel heard and understood even during heated moments.

Treatment isn’t limited just to individual sessions or couples’ encounters either. Many online platforms now offer cognitive-behavioral treatments tailored towards helping emotionally reactive people. These include Zoom calls facilitated by therapists skilled at assisting clients to reduce their emotional pain while boosting self-esteem through mental health awareness activities.


Health & Life Coaching Approaches

As a dedicated health and life coach, I understand the unique challenges women in high-achieving roles face. The pressures of running your own business, being at the forefront of healthcare, or shaping young minds can often lead to emotional reactivity. But what exactly is emotional reactivity, and how does it impact our lives?

Understanding Emotional Reactivity

Emotional reactivity, by definition, refers to instances where an individual’s internal emotional responses are disproportionately intense compared to their external stimulus. This could mean feeling overwhelmed with anger over minor inconveniences or experiencing anxiety from seemingly harmless situations.

An Example of Emotional Reactivity

To better illustrate this concept, consider this scenario: you receive a slightly critical email from a client about your work. While constructive feedback is part of any job role, you find yourself spiraling into negative self-talk and questioning your capabilities as a professional – that’s emotional reactivity in action.


Becoming Less Emotionally Reactive

The good news is that there are effective strategies for managing these emotions! As part of my coaching approach using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques, we will work together on developing healthier thought patterns and coping mechanisms. Here are some steps we might take:

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: We start by recognizing when you’re becoming emotionally reactive so we can intervene early.
  • Mindfulness Practices: I encourage mindfulness exercises like meditation or deep breathing, which help create space between stimulus and response.
  • Reframing Thoughts: NLP techniques can reframe negative thoughts into more positive, empowering ones.

Incorporating these strategies helps manage emotional reactivity and contributes positively to your overall health and wellness. Remember, the journey towards a healthier you should be embraced with patience and self-love.


Strategies for Managing Emotional Reactivity in Relationships

We all have moments when we feel overwhelmed by our emotions. But what if these intense feelings are messing with your life? The bottom line is that emotional reactivity can harm interpersonal relationships and affect mental health.

Addressing Emotional Reactivity in the Workplace

In professional settings, high emotional reactions can disrupt productivity and teamwork. A reactive person might react impulsively to feedback, stressful situations, or colleague tension.

To reduce emotional reactivity at work, try practicing active listening. This strategy lets you truly hear others’ perspectives without letting your emotions cloud judgment. Deep listening, an aspect of mindfulness practice, also aids emotion regulation skills development.

Breathing deeply can help, too. Taking a deep breath before responding allows time to process information and respond appropriately rather than impulsively. HealthLine’s guide on calming techniques has more tips.


The Power of Open Communication

Open communication is vital in friendships or romantic partnerships, where one may feel angry or overlooked. Expressing feelings honestly helps both parties understand each other better. Plus, it allows the loved one to adjust their behavior accordingly – because no one wants constant temper tantrums.

Couples therapy could be beneficial for partners struggling with managing emotions. Find out more about couples therapy here.


Mindfulness Practices: An Effective Strategy?

A study from Harvard found that mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can help reduce emotional pain and lower cortisol levels, the hormone that increases under stress. Read more about this Harvard study here.

Whether through active listening, open communication, or mindfulness practices – managing your emotional reactivity is possible. Remind yourself to take good care and do not hesitate to seek expert assistance if required.

Key Takeaway: 

High emotions can mess with your mind and relationships. To stay level-headed in personal or work situations, practice active listening to people without letting feelings cloud your thoughts. Open conversations are fundamental to mutual understanding in tight-knit bonds where tempers often fly. But if things get too complicated, seek professional help – like couples therapy.


FAQs about Emotional Reactivity

What is an example of emotional reactivity?

If someone snaps at their partner because they had a stressful day at work, that’s an example of emotional reactivity. They’re letting stress dictate their reactions.

What causes emotional reactivity?

The root cause of emotional reactivity can be past trauma or current stressors. Mental health conditions like ADHD, depression, and anxiety also increase the likelihood of being emotionally reactive.

What are the symptoms of emotional reactivity?

Symptoms of emotional reactivity include frequent overreactions to situations or people’s actions, impulsiveness in response to emotions, and difficulty seeing things objectively when upset.

What are the characteristics of emotionally reactive people?

An emotionally reactive person often reacts impulsively without considering consequences. Due to impulsive responses, they may have intense mood swings and struggle to maintain healthy relationships.


But remember, every thunderstorm passes eventually.

Mindfulness and active listening aren’t just buzzwords—they’re your shields in the face of strong emotions. Use them wisely.

Therapy approaches such as couples therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy are allies on this journey and turn to expert aid when necessary.

In relationships, open communication is vital is critical. Addressing emotional reactivity at its root helps prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for misunderstandings and conflict.

Your emotions don’t have to control you—you have the power to manage them effectively!


Learn how to respond calmly.

Let me help you boost your emotional health starting today!

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About Denise Morrison

I’m a licensed and certified health care professional with over 30 years experience in healthcare, wellness, fitness, physical therapy, yoga, NLP, TLT, hypnosis and mind-body practices.

During my career I’ve seen too many women struggle with self-doubt and fear leftover from their past, making them stuck in their health, happiness, and success.

This is why it’s my passion to help you discover and release any of your limiting beliefs, old stories, and unconscious obstacles so you can finally know, trust and value yourself and confidently make decisive action to create your most fulfilling life.

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