Emotional regulation is the ability to control one’s emotional response to the vast variety of experiences and circumstances we encounter every day. Emotional regulation can include controlling spontaneous reactions, regulating one’s feelings, and modulating behavior.
As we move through the world, we are all faced with potentially irritating or triggering stimuli and many of us engage in emotional regulation without even knowing it. The ability to regulate one’s emotional response to external factors is key in maintaining the organization and quality of one’s thoughts, actions, and interactions.
Although emotional regulation often comes naturally, there are times when keeping one’s instinctive emotional response in check can be a challenge. To help improve your emotional regulation in those moments, use these four strategies.
Take A Step Back
To avoid reacting on impulse with negative or disproportionate emotions, take a step back and allow yourself to regroup before responding. Make it a rule to take five deep breaths before reacting to an emotional trigger. Deep breathing helps an agitated heart rate return to normal and reduces the anxiety or anger that may have triggered you.
Find An Outlet
Once you’ve calmed your initial emotional response, find a healthy way to release your anxiety or anger. Write in a private journal to release your thoughts and feelings. Exercise is also a great way to sweat out your negative emotions and replace them with positive endorphins.
Talk It Out
Sometimes we just need to vent into order to let go of a negative experience. Find a trustworthy friend or family member to listen to your story or consult a coach for an unbiased and safe space to talk it out.
Build Your Toolkit
Engaging in healthy habits throughout your everyday life can build an emotional regulation toolkit. This way, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotional triggers when they arise. Meditation, good sleep patterns, and self-care have all been shown to reduce the likelihood of disproportionate emotional reactions.
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