Emotion Regulation: What it is and 5 Emotion regulation Skills

Emotion Regulation: What it is and 5 Emotion regulation Skills

Do you ever find that your emotions get the best of you? Maybe you’ve found yourself in a situation where you feel a difficult emotion and don’t know how to cope with it. Not everyone is automatically good at regulating their emotions. Sometimes it takes practice and time to understand why emotion regulation is important and the consequences that come with emotion dysregulation. 

What is Emotion Regulation? 

So what exactly is emotion regulation? It refers to how we as individuals regulate the many emotions we experience on a daily basis, this can include either amplifying or reducing the intensity and the duration of an emotion. Some people struggle more than others with regulating their emotions, including people with borderline personality disorder. This could be in part due to childhood trauma or not being taught how to manage difficult emotions. There are two broad categories of emotion regulation. The first is cognitive reappraisal. This is when you change how you think about something, to change the intensity of the emotion you experience. The other is expressive suppression. This is when you inhibit or reduce your behavioural response to an emotion, for example, hiding a facial expression.

Emotion dysregulation on the other hand, is when you have trouble regulating your emotions and in turn experience a range of negative thoughts or feelings. Signs of emotion dysregulation include: 

  • Depression
  • Relationship problems 
  • Avoidant behaviours 
  • Heightened sensitivity 
  • High anxiety levels 
  • High risk sexual behaviours
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Temper tantrums
  • Fear of abandonment 
  • Self-criticising 
  • Mood swings 
  • Eating disorder
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thought and attempt
  • Substance misuse
  • Excessive conflict

If emotion dysregulation is left too long, it can lead to depression, self harm and other forms of suffering. This can be avoided if you’re willing to do the work! 

The Process Model of Emotion Regulation

The process model is a model that speaks to the process in which we start to regulate our emotions. It involves a situation, attention, appraisal and response. Once you have an understanding of how the model works, you can use it to your advantage. 

  • Situation - All emotions begin with a situation. This could be a thought that pops up in your own head or an external situation that comes about when speaking to another person. When regulating your emotions, you’ll see how you have the power of choice. You get to choose who you interact with and have the ability to change your own thoughts. 
  • Attention - The situation may distract you from what you were previously thinking or doing. You might start focusing on how someone is reacting by what they’re saying or doing but you could be missing nonverbal cues or what’s really going on. 
  • Appraisal - When you’re in an emotionally distressing situation you will start to evaluate what’s going on. This is where you can start to change how you think about the situation. When you start to recognise the stories you’re telling yourself that are harmful such as, “they don’t want to be friends with me anymore”, “I can’t do that”, etc, you can remind yourself that you’re in charge and have the ability to change the narrative. 
  • Response - Your response is how you react physically and/or emotionally to the situation. If you react strictly based on your emotions, without stopping to think, you might say something you will later regret. When you take the time to step back from your emotions, you allow yourself to evaluate what an appropriate response would be. This is especially helpful if you tend to overreact to situations. 

Strategies That Can Help You Regulate Your Emotions

There are many ways to regulate emotions. Doing so will help you find more happiness and a sense of calm each day. Here are some methods you can use to get started

  1. Self-Awareness - It’s important to become aware of the emotions you’re feeling so you can name them. When you can identify if you’re sad or anxious, for example, you give yourself time to think about why you’re feeling that way. It may help to journal about it and write out your thoughts to make more sense of them. 
  1. Mindfulness - Being more present in your everyday life will help with emotion regulation. Some mindfulness exercises include but are not limited to breath-work, sensory relaxation and meditation. These exercises can help calm the storm.
  1. Cognitive Reappraisal - You can change how you think about something to change how you respond to it. Utilising different types of psychotherapies such as CBT will help you find alternative ways to view negative situations. 
  1. Adaptability - You can also build your emotional regulation by putting yourself in situations where you need to adapt. Getting comfortable with life changes will help you realise that a change can be positive and when you’re wiling to adapt, good things will come your way. 
  1. Self-Compassion - Choosing to be kind, empathetic and non-judgemental to yourself instead of constantly criticising yourself will help you continually regulate your emotions. It may be helpful to start a gratitude journal, create a self-care routine or say daily affirmations. 

Author: Antoinette

1 comment

This article came in at the right.
I’m so refreshed and completely renewed by reading this.
I will be recommending this in sphere of Influence.
Keep doing the good work
Thanks a lot.

Ndubuisi Ejim

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