Being able to feel and express emotions is more vital than you might think. They are important in your reactions because they are the felt response to a circumstance. When you're tuned into them, you have access to vital information that can aid you with success in decision-making relationships, interactions on a daily basis, and even self-care. While emotions can be beneficial in your daily life, when they go out of control, they can have a negative impact on your mental health and interpersonal connections. This is where the concept of emotional regulation comes in.
What Is Emotional Regulation?
Emotional regulation is a person’s ability to successfully manage and respond to their emotional experiences. Ms Kamna Sarin, clinical psychologist at Sukoon Health, Gurgaon states, “Emotional regulation strategies are often used unconsciously to help an individual deal with difficult situations throughout their life. These strategies can be applied to various situations depending on the need of the situation.”
Emotional regulation strategies can be healthy or unhealthy. “Healthy coping strategies include talking with friends, exercising, writing in a journal, and attending therapy, whereas negative strategies include abusing alcohol or other substances, self-injury amongst others,” she adds.
Importance Of Emotional Regulation
In case you’re wondering, Ms Sarin does clarify that we do not have control over our emotions. However, you can utilise strategies to help you accept your emotions and decrease the amount of control they have on you. This is why emotional regulation can help you diffuse or manage strong emotions, thus leading to greater insights about your experiences.
Emotions are vital information our mind gives us. Ask yourself what you might be feeling and why, this can help us access our wise minds. “It is important to remember emotions are neutral, they are neither good nor bad. All individuals have different automatic emotional responses, depending on factors such as their past experiences and current situation,” adds Ms Sarin.
She further quips that while emotions cannot be controlled, you do have control over how you behave. Acknowledging your emotions allows you to increase insight into your emotions and enables you to control how to act or respond to situations.
Tips To Regulate Your Emotions
Ms Sarin lays down the following tips you can follow to regulate your emotions:
• Talking with friends: Having a support system you can rely on to discuss anything that may be bothering you is a great way to put your emotions into words. They can also provide support and suggestions, or just lend an ear to hear you out. This way your initial response to a situation is dealt with and can give you control over your emotions.
• Exercising: A good half an hour to 45 minute of exercise releases endorphins which make you ‘feel good’. This helps in regulating your emotions in such a way that all your focus is not on the situation at hand.
• Writing in a journal: If you’re not comfortable speaking to anyone else about your concerns or thoughts, writing in a journal is a great way to let your emotions out. The goal is to release the emotions, not repress it.
• Meditation: It can assist you in becoming more aware of all of your sensations and experiences. When you meditate, you're teaching yourself to sit with your feelings, to notice them without judging, or trying to change or eliminate them.
• Therapy: If your emotions are still overwhelming you, it's time to seek professional help. Certain mental health problems, such as borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, are connected to long-term or persistent emotional dysregulation and mood swings. Therapy can help you work through your emotions.
• Taking care of self when physically ill: It’s no surprise, that if you don’t give your body some rest and recovery time, it can lead to health issues. And when you’re ill, it becomes imperative to take care of yourself so that you heal faster, without it taking a toll on your emotional wellbeing.
• Getting adequate sleep: Your body needs seven to eight hours of sleep for it work at its optimum level. You wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, ready to take on the day if you’re well-rested. Your mind would be clear and you’re less likely to be irritable after a good night’s sleep.
• Paying attention to negative thoughts that occur before or after strong emotions: And instead of dismissing them, try to understand your triggers. This will help you deal with the situation in an effective and calm manner, instead of getting charged up.
• Noticing when you need a break – and taking it: We all need to take time off and disconnect from our surroundings to connect with ourselves. However, with the kind of lives we lead today, it becomes a difficult task to claim some time for ourselves. So, if you feel like that time off or vacation is overdue, it is advisable to take it without any hesitation. This break can also be beneficial to your mind as it stresses less, which in turn uplifts your mood.