Emotional Regulation Techniques (7 Important Strategies)
Here, we will take a look at seven important emotional regulation techniques that can help you obtain emotional well-being. At first, we will understand what emotional regulation is. Then, we will discuss these techniques in more detail.
What are Emotional Regulation Techniques?
Emotional regulation techniques are strategies that help you process your emotions healthily. The emotional regulation techniques that we are going to discuss here are listed below:
- Carving Out Me-Time
- Paying Attention to Your Narrative
- Always Aiming for Positive Self Talk
- Paying Attention to Your Body
- Grounding & Relaxation Techniques
- Trauma Releasing Exercises
- Knowing My Triggers
What is Emotional Regulation?
Emotional regulation is the ability to process or respond to your emotional needs at any given moment. It requires you to be able to feel a full range of emotions brought by internal or external stimuli.
In simple words, when something happens that elicits an emotional reaction in you, your ability to regulate your emotions allows you to choose how to respond optimally. So, for example, if you are feeling a negative emotion, emotional regulation will help you pick a context-appropriate response.
This response includes how you accept the emotion, understand it, express it, and communicate it. If you’re good at emotional regulation, you can choose to spontaneously react or delay your reaction based on what is good for you.
7 Emotional Regulation Techniques
In this section, we will talk about seven emotional regulation techniques so that you can learn how to try them in your life. We will explain the relevance of each technique and break it down into simple steps.
Carving Out Me-Time
Before you can learn any other technique, the fundamental strategy to apply is making time for you to process your emotions. On a daily basis, you will encounter situations that evoke an emotional response within you. Sometimes, it will be okay to respond spontaneously. At other times, you may not have the liberty to do so.
For example, if you are at a social gathering, or you have some urgent work to attend, or the people around you will not appreciate you being vulnerable. In times like these, it’s crucial for you to hang tight and find a way to get some privacy soon.
It doesn’t have to be immediately but the lesser the delay, the better. If you aren’t very familiar with your emotional self, you might try and skip this step and carry on with your routine. However, bottling up emotions is never a good idea as they always come back to haunt you.
The best thing to do is to prioritise this me-time and make it happen as soon as you can. Once you’re alone, let yourself feel it. For beginners, this can be a little hard, but make sure you don’t get back to work without feeling at least a fraction of it. Keep making time for this till you feel satisfied and at peace.
Paying Attention to Your Narrative
If there is only one thing that you take away from this list of techniques, let it be this one. When you start paying attention to the narrative in your head, you take the first step towards healthy emotional regulation.
Our perspective of events plays a huge role in deciding how we feel about something. To be a stoic, you don’t need to pretend your feelings don’t exist. You just need to change the narrative in your head to one that elicits peace and serenity.
If you’re wondering how to do that, you’re not alone. It’s easier said than done. Sometimes it helps to consult professional or self-help books that guide you through the process. Essentially, what you’re trying to do is assess whether your narrative is rational, helpful, and worth your energy. If not, you have to change it to one that is.
Always Aiming for Positive Self Talk
One effective way of changing your narrative is to focus on maintaining positive self-talk. Your self-talk is the voice inside your head that tells you what to think or feel about yourself. Negative self-talk might make the following statements:
- “I’m so stupid”
- “I’m not worth loving”
- “I’m going to die alone”
- “I can never get things right”
In contrast, positive self-talk can look at the same situations and respond a lot more healthily and realistically:
- “I have a lot to learn”
- “I have many issues to overcome and I will because I love myself”
- “I will always be my biggest cheerleader”
- “I need a lot of practice at this”
As you can see, the situations remain the same but the way you talk to yourself is completely opposite. Positive self-talk makes emotional regulation a lot easier because it comes layered with tonnes of self-acceptance. You accept that you are not perfect and yet you are worth self-love.
Paying Attention to Your Body
Emotions are rarely ever just in the mind. Once you start being mindful, you’ll realise that your whole body gives a reaction when you feel an emotion. For instance, if you’re scared, your heart will beat faster, your breaths will be shorter, and all your muscles will go tense.
Similarly, if you’re feeling amused, your stomach will feel lighter, your face might go read and warm, and you might have to pee a little because you’re so relaxed. Learning emotional regulation warrants a greater awareness of what’s happening in your body.
That’s why this technique will take you far in training yourself in emotional regulations. You must recognise what bodily reactions co-occur with which feelings. Paying attention to your body will also help you notice when you have successfully regulated an emotion.
Grounding & Relaxation Techniques
You can’t learn how to regulate intense emotions without the ability to ground and relax. Don’t worry, these aren’t inborn skills, they have to be learned through experience. Babies learn to do it when their caregivers show up for their needs and desires.
But if caregivers are absent or unreliable, these skills can be underdeveloped or not exist at all. So, it’s quite common for adults to have to relearn grounding and relaxation techniques. A grounding technique is something that lowers the feeling of being overwhelmed and brings you in touch with the present moment.
Typically, these use the sensory information is perceived by your body to ground you in reality. There are also other ways to do the same that can be explored using this worksheet. Relaxation techniques aim at decreasing the tension built-up in your muscles. Doing so gives your brain the signal that you’re not in danger.
Trauma Releasing Exercises
Trauma Releasing Exercises, or TRE, are evidence-based practices that help release any trauma stored in your body. There’s a lot of research done on this subject that proves that this is an effective strategy for posttraumatic growth or trauma survivors.
These exercises can help with emotional regulation because sometimes we get triggered subconsciously without even realising what triggered us. This usually happens because there is some unresolved trauma within us from painful memories.
By practicing TRE, we give our bodies a chance to heal from that trauma. The best part about it is that it doesn’t require any talking or recollection of past events. After sufficient amounts of trauma are released, you’ll find emotional regulation a lot less challenging.
Knowing My Triggers
Finally, in order to master emotional regulation, one must be aware of what kind of things triggers them. Triggers are of various kinds and there is no limit to what can qualify as a trigger. You might get triggered by people, places, objects, situations, activities, thoughts, and more.
Each person has their own set of triggers so it’s very important to know which ones are yours. You can learn about your triggers by paying attention to what happens inside you. You can tell that you have been triggered by checking for these signs:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Tightened muscles
- Urge to cry
- Anger outbursts
- Inability to speak
- Feeling frozen
- Urge to do something impulsive
- Uncontrollable thoughts
Once you have identified your triggers, work on building strategies to cope with them. While some strategies help you avoid the trigger, others help you face them head-on. Keep both kinds prepared for each trigger.
Here, we took a look at seven important emotional regulation techniques that can help you obtain emotional well-being. At first, we understood what emotional regulation is. Then, we discussed these techniques in more detail.
The emotional regulation techniques mentioned here included Carving Out Me-Time, Paying Attention to Your Narrative, Always Aiming for Positive Self Talk, Paying Attention to Your Body, Grounding & Relaxation Techniques, Trauma Releasing Exercises, and Knowing My Triggers.
FAQs (Emotional Regulation Techniques)
How can you teach kids emotional regulation?
Keep in mind the following strategies to help teach children how to regulate their emotions:
- Belly breathing
- Box breathing
- Stretching and yoga
- Mood charts
- Mood meters
- Games to build emotional intelligence
- Storytelling to build empathy
- Drawing out feelings
How do you recognize emotional triggers?
One can learn to recognise their emotional triggers by paying attention to what’s happening in their body. An increased heart rate, shorter breaths, tightened muscles, restlessness, an urge to cry, impulsiveness; are all signs of being triggered. Mindfulness is key in identifying one’s triggers.
What are the 3 areas that emotional well-being influences?
When someone has attained emotional well-being, they have a much easier time being in tune with their emotions. They’re able to handle them in a healthy way and focus on learning. Emotional well-being also influences your ability to be vulnerable; a key ingredient for trust in relationships. It’s also easier to be your authentic self when emotionally well.
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