A Mental Health Foundation study showed that, in a 12 month period, 74% of people have been so stressed they felt unable to cope. This is how to regulate emotions so that you can maintain calm and clarity.
Stress, sadness, grief and overwhelm are emotions all of us feel at some point. Sometimes, we are able to regulate these emotions in a positive, solution-focused way. Other times, we can become consumed by them. When strong emotions take over your world, it can be hard to see and feel clearly. Sometimes, we try to self-regulate in ways that can actually make us feel worse. This is where individual psychotherapy and couples therapy can be an invaluable tool.
Unhealthy ways we can self-regulate
Self-regulation refers to the process we go through to try and manage difficult or powerful emotions. For example, when we feel so apprehensive about something that we experience a racing heart and sweating, we might self-regulate by sitting down, taking deep breaths or drinking a glass of water.
In contrast to the above example, which is considered a healthy and normal response to overwhelm, self-regulation can sometimes be very toxic. You might:
- Drink alcohol as a reaction to emotions, rather than for pleasure
- Take medications like beta blockers in response to stressful episodes
- Rely on sleeping pills
- Shout, lash out, throw objects or have fits of rage
- Experience panic attacks
- Experience physical pain, stomach cramps or nausea
- Feel suicidal or threaten suicide
- Fight with your partner
- Overeat or lose your appetite
- Self harm
- And much more…
Self-regulation in any of these ways can cause a spiral of destructive and negative situations, including damaged relationships, lower self esteem, financial struggles, poor life choices and physical health problems.
Healthy ways we self-regulate
Conversely, if you regulate your emotions in a healthy way, you can experience more calm and clarity during uncertain or challenging situations. Examples of health regulation are:
- Deep breathing / taking time to relax / meditating before taking action
- Reflecting on the true nature of your emotions so that you respond mindfully
- Moderate physical exercise
- Self care methods like taking a bath, cooking a fresh meal, watching a film
- Talking it out / socialising and seeing friends
- Awareness of body sensations
- Caring, nurturing self-talk
Therapy for better self regulation
If you identify with any of the above self-regulation methods, it might be time to take positive action. Through individual psychotherapy and/or couples therapy, you can learn to identify your true emotions and then manage and respond to them in ways that are healthy, constructive and solution-focused. You can also learn more about your projections, and how these might be influencing your emotional responses. For example, if you are prone to panic attacks, we would use therapy to identify your triggers, get to the root cause of your problem, explore your emotions that arise around it, and then learn how to regulate these emotions more effectively.
If you find self-regulation to be an ongoing problem, you might benefit from signing up to my 24/7 therapy subscription service. This allows you to access me whenever you need it – whether you feel a negative situation arising or are in the middle of a full blown reactionary episode.
Getting the support you need
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