Warning signs you're about to blow your fuse

Everybody has their breaking point, and with the past two years being just a tad stressful with all the changes to how we live, it’s understandable many have found their fuses shortening.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself sometimes gritting your teeth as you ask your partner for the upteenth time to take out the trash, or fighting the urge not to curse out loud when the supermarket shelves are empty and devoid of loo paper when your family has a serious case of “the runs”.

Young woman trying to sleep amid stress
Is there a way to lenghthen your fuse to avoid hitting your breaking point during stress? Photo: Getty

Let’s not even mention how difficult it is to stay calm when you’re not well and stuck in a queue for a Covid test when you have work and family commitments.

But is there a way to lengthen that short fuse?

Donna McGeorge, productivity expert and best-selling author says it’s important to find ways to lengthen your fuse by making space in your life so you are able to respond effectively to unexpected challenges.


Donna, who has just published a new book The 1 Day Refund, says we should practice adaptive capacity; budgeting your time so you are not constantly surging.

“When you have a lot of energy and a lot of time, you have adaptive capacity,” she explains. “This is the ability to take advantage of change, to respond to disruptive circumstances positively and to cope when the unexpected happens.”

stressed person
It's all about learning to cope better with changes. Photo: Getty

Warning signs you’re about to blow your top

So what are some of the warning signs that show us we are beginning to buckle under pressure, and what can we do to prevent that from happening?

Donna clues us in.

“It can be different for people depending on their situation, and typical signs are irritability, short temper, loss of sense of humour, forgetting important things, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness," she explains.

"The best way to overcome them is to recognise your personal early warning signs and stop, breathe, and take stock. Doing a 'wipe the mind' or 'brain dump' of EVERYTHING that is on your mind (not just tasks) so that you can clear the space in your head is my number one go-to."

Top three tips for lengthening your fuse

When it comes to lengthening your fuse, Donna says there are a few things you can do to maintain your calm.

  1. Be aware of your triggers. "Some things bug us more than others, and if you have self-awareness you can prepare yourself for tense or stressful situations. My father always said, 'if it’s predictable, it’s preventable'. If you know your triggers you can manage your response. If the trigger is a person or a behaviour, use the space you have created to ask yourself, 'under what conditions would I have done that?' This is giving others the same benefit of the doubt that you would give yourself. In my experience, people don’t set out to upset others. It’s generally accidental."

  2. Count to 10! "Just like you were told as a kid. When you feel the tension rising, take three deep breaths. Draw in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four. Repeat a few times until you feel the tension start to dissipate and you have access again to your ability to think rationally."

  3. Hit the pause button. "Ask yourself a couple of questions like, 'What’s really going on here?' and/or 'How did I create or contribute to this?. Our instinct is to often blame the situation or someone else, but often when we pause, and breathe and ask ourselves questions, we have access back to our executive, or higher functioning parts of the brain."

If you're experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression contact Beyond Blue or Headspace.

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