Sometimes emotions can be extremely intense, causing you to lash out and say or do things you don’t mean. This is especially true for angry emotions. However, there is a way to teach yourself to take a step back, breathe, and learn how to not lash out when you are feeling heavy emotions such as anger, sadness, grief, etc. Practicing emotional regulation will help you keep your emotions in check and under control, allowing you to avoid potentially negative consequences if you were to lash out in anger at someone or something. This will discuss some tips to improve your emotional regulation skills.
What Is Emotional Regulation?
Emotional regulation is a set of skills that helps you manage your emotions in stressful situations. These skills are especially important because emotions that are not managed properly can cause you to engage in behaviors that have serious consequences for your life. Knowing how to properly regulate your emotions gives you the power to slow down, think, and cope with difficult situations in stride without reacting on the spot. You will find yourself with a more positive perspective and living a more balanced life.
Ways to Improve Emotional Regulation
There are a variety of ways to strengthen your emotional regulation skills. By taking part in any of the listed activities, you can be successful in managing your emotions.
While this may not be accessible for everyone, therapy is a great option to talk about any issues or concerns you may be having. After all, anger is commonly understood to be a defense mechanism for something deeper, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, sadness, etc. Talking to a therapist can help you relieve what strong emotions you are feeling. In turn, the therapist can give you exercises, worksheets, or just advice on how to deal with your emotions in order to keep them in check. Therapists are trained to help individuals with stressful emotions, so you know you are talking to the right person if you seek therapy for this.
Talk to a Trusted Friend
Therapy is not accessible for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from not knowing how to regulate your emotions. Talk to a friend that you trust deeply about what you are going through. Sometimes you just need a place to vent and release any tension or issues you may be holding back. Talking to a friend will also make you feel less alone and more understood, meaning you can relax a little. Your friend may even know exactly what you are going through and can empathize with you, giving you advice that worked for them.
Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a healthy and balanced diet can do more good for you than you realize. Eating the proper foods gives you the nutrients and vitamins you need to function through the day. They will keep your body healthy and give you the energy needed to exercise, sleep better, and just be more productive overall. Exercise can also help lift your mood because it releases endorphins, which work to boost your mood, relieve you of stress, and improve your quality of life. You’ll find yourself able to cope better with your emotions as you take care of your physical body because your mind will be able to function better.
Get Enough Sleep
You should never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep is around eight hours because it gives your body enough time to enter REM sleep, which is needed to keep you healthy and energized in the waking hours. Proper sleep also helps reduce stress, boosts your mood, gives you energy, improves your memory, lowers blood pressure, and more. Sometimes you may lash out because you are irritable from not getting good sleep. A great way to combat this is to make sure you have a consistent sleep schedule with which you get at least eight hours a night.
This method, created by Carol Vivyan, is a great way to take a step back when you are placed in a difficult situation. STOPP stands for: stop, take a breath, observe your thoughts and feelings, pull back and see the bigger picture, and practice what works (“What is the best thing to do at this moment?”). This is a great way to keep you from instantly reacting and saying or doing something you don’t mean. Eventually, this will become second nature and you will be able to do this without thinking about it.
Practicing mindfulness brings you into the present moment, allowing you to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. You become more aware of yourself, what you are feeling, where you are feeling it, and of the environment around you. This helps you center your mind and calm it down, especially in the face of stress or situations that make you angry. You can find meditation methods online for beginners if you need help getting started.
Emotional regulation is a skill that each and every person should have because it keeps the peace in distressing situations despite what you may be feeling on the inside. Even those that are good at regulating their emotions need to strengthen this skill to maintain it. At Hired Power, our staff can help you strengthen your emotional regulation skills in recovery, which will help your sobriety in the long term. You don’t have to be working with professionals to learn emotional regulation, you can do so on your own by practicing any of the activities listed above. Either way, you are bound to see some improvement in your interpersonal relationships and life in general. Emotions can be strong, but they don’t have to control your life. By learning to regulate them, you will be on your way to a better and more social and sober life. If you have any questions, call us at (714) 559-3919.