Controlling Your Reaction


When you wake up in the morning, you never know how your day will unfold.

You don’t know if traffic will push your buttons, if you’ll feel overwhelmed at work, or if you’ll bicker with your spouse. Yet, by the same token, you also don’t know if your body will be feeling energized, if you’ll get to see your best friend, or if you’ll have time to finish the book you’ve been reading.

Life often has surprises for you, both good and bad. Your natural emotional response to these surprises affects your mood more than the events themselves.

When you can’t control the things that happen in your life, there is one thing you can control: your reaction. You can’t control if your boss is having an especially angry day. You can’t control when a friend cancels plans you were looking forward to. You especially can’t change the weather and how it impacts your day.

However, if you can pause for a moment to remind yourself that you are in control of your reaction, you can prevent an emotional tailspin before it happens. So, how should you react when you’re faced with circumstances outside of your control? Take a deep breath, remain calm, and if you need to, walk away. Then, you can spend time reflecting on your feelings about the event in a calmer, safer environment.

Working on how you respond to situations can help you reduce stress, a risk factor for cognitive decline. It can also help you remain focused and positive, two helpful strategies when working on your cognitive health goals like improving your nutrition, exercise, and social interaction.