I like this topic and it came from a book I read: Say What You Mean, A Mindful Approach to Non-Violent Communication. I interviewed the author Oren Jay Sofer for my podcast.
There are many great topics in the book, but one of many great topics that caught my attention was learning to monitor your internal pressure of sympathetic arousal. That means noticing if you feel pressure building in your chest or somewhere else. It could feel like wanting to interrupt, it could even show up as you shaking your head. Sympathetic arousal can also be noticed in sports- like when your heart rate is too high, your hands are shaking, and you’re too jacked to perform properly. This also can happen with things like public speaking or having a difficult conversation.
Step one is to notice when it’s happening.
What can you do about it? You can first make a mental note and/or do something physical like take a breath or shift your weight. Oren says, “it takes mindful awareness to pause, track reactivity and ride the wave of activation instead of being capsized by it.” That internal pressure or being overly activated is a feeling of discomfort. I you can recognize sitting with it as learning to tolerate the discomfort, it helps you from having to act on that feeling right away.
Pausing creates space to notice activation and grounding yourself to steady attention instead of losing center. An easy way to ground yourself when you get amped up is try to be aware of a body part – like how your feet feel on the floor in that moment or doing a quick body scan.