Do you ever wish that you could have better control over your emotions? Being able to control your emotions means you are more likely to make better choices, rather than rash decisions in the heat of the moment that you might regret when your brain chemistry settles back down. In the following blog, I will share five super basic emotional regulation strategies that can help you feel more empowered and in control, which will lead to feeling less stressed. How great would that be considering the state of our world?
First, I want to talk a little more about regulating emotions and how important it can be. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of witnessing a young man share his inspiring story of overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. Beside the fact that I was blown away by his honesty and vulnerability in front of over 100 people, I was extremely impressed by his wisdom as he specifically talked about how his lack of ability to regulate his emotions contributed to the development of his addiction. He also talked about using drugs as a coping mechanism to assist with his lack of ability to navigate his emotional responses, which I thought was very insightful. I started to reflect back on my own addiction to food and laxatives and think about this ever-present problem we have: How can young people find a way to obtain emotional regulation skills at an earlier age so that they are not as vulnerable to addiction and other mental illnesses? This made me think about an organization dedicated to helping with that very cause.
Several weeks ago, I was introduced to a young and very inspiring woman named Niki Aviv. Her mom, Robin, helped found a group called Generation S.O.S., which stands for Sharing Our Stories. The Mission: Youth empowering youth to make informed choices about substance use. The Vision: Overcoming the stigma that keeps America from tackling this health crisis head on. For those looking for specific ways to regulate emotions, there are a ton of resources and groups out there like this one and I believe they are making a huge difference with youth communities, in particular.
Niki & Robin Aviv
On a smaller scale, we can all practice regulating emotions on a daily basis with small and big events. Emotion regulation is the importance of being aware of your emotions and labeling them accordingly. Understanding your emotions and how you do or don’t regulate them can provide clarity into how you respond emotionally to your challenges (both big and small). Since we are used to acting or reacting to our emotions, controlling them can be challenging. Don’t worry! I promise you that practicing the following techniques will allow you to feel more in control, which will make it easier to feel better.
Tip #1: Count to 5
Sure, you might think that this is a silly one or too simple, but if you give this a try and practice, you will find out that this simple trick actually works. You can either just pause and count or you can pause and think about something calming like the ocean or green grass. If you find that you are more likely to become emotionally reactive in certain places or with certain people, then I suggest creating a flash card or maybe a few with reminders 1-2-3-4-5 ( you can go up to 10 if you need...).
Tip #2: Remind yourself that negative or painful emotions are NOT bad