The Significance of Developing Emotional Self-Regulation
Emotional self-regulation refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and control emotions, thoughts, and actions in a healthy manner. It involves using conscious, cognitive strategies to regulate behavioural responses to various events that elicit emotions. It typically starts in infancy, influenced by caregivers, and gradually becomes more self-initiated as we grow and mature.
When you engage in emotional self-regulation, you acknowledge your emotional response, consider the consequences of your response to the emotional event, and choose to respond in positive way that results in positive outcomes. For example, someone with high emotional self-regulation will be able to stop themselves from saying hurtful things to others even when they feel upset. They will notice their emotions and consider how their behavioural response will affect others and their relationships before acting.
Feeling strong emotions is completely natural and healthy. However, learning how to process your emotions and respond with appropriate behaviour is critical to your well-being and the well-being of those around you. Lacking emotional self-regulation can have negative effects on yourself, your mental health, and your relationships with others. Someone who lacks emotional self-regulation may overreact in situations, be quick to react with little thinking process, experience mood swings, and experience negative emotions for a long period of time.
If you have a difficult time self-regulating your emotions, or believe that you could improve your self-regulation, the good news is that there are a variety of skills you can learn to do this. However, it's also important that you regularly practice these skills in order to really build and improve your emotional self-regulation. Coaching and therapy can be two valuable sources that will help you increase your self-awareness and better regulate your emotions and responses.
Some daily practices to regulate your emotions:
- Regular exercise
- Getting restful sleep
- Practicing mindfulness
- Being aware of your emotions and negative thoughts
Strategies to Improve Emotional Self-Regulation
Mindfulness is about intentionally focusing our attention on the present moment without judgment. It involves two important aspects: first, being aware of what's happening in the here and now, and second, accepting our experiences with curiosity and openness. It has also been found that mindfulness helps us to let go of worry, guilt, and anxiety.
Research has revealed that individuals who practiced mindfulness everyday experienced higher levels of positive emotions and lower levels of negative emotions.
Cognitive reappraisal is a strategy that focuses on changing the way we think about a situation before it has a chance to strongly affect our emotions. It involves mentally reinterpreting a potentially emotion-inducing situation in a different way, which can alter how it makes us feel.
Research has shown that reappraisal is associated with positive impacts on our emotional well-being. Individuals who frequently use reappraisal have been found to experience increased positive emotions. When we use cognitive reappraisal, we can become more active and engaged in our behaviours. This opens up more chances for us to experience positive and rewarding situations in our surroundings. As a result, this can lead to an overall increase in positive emotions.
Impact of Emotional Self-regulation on Mental Health
Recent research has found that emotional regulation plays an important role in mental health.
Studies have shown that emotional dysregulation is a core feature of Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD). Individuals with BPD struggle with emotional awareness, distress tolerance, and often engage in harmful emotion regulation strategies.
Depression has been found to be widely associated with dysfunctional emotion regulation, with individuals experiencing difficulties in identifying, accepting, and modifying negative emotions. Similar patterns are seen in anxiety disorders, where lack of emotional self-regulation contributes to ineffective coping and the development of chronic avoidance behaviours.
In individuals with PTSD, difficulties in regulating emotions contribute to the severity of symptoms and impairment in their daily lives. Improving emotion regulation skills in the early stages of PTSD treatment can enhance the effectiveness of later therapy phases.
Substance-related disorders often involve difficulties in coping with negative emotions, leading individuals to turn to substances as a means of regulation. Eating disorders are also linked to emotional dysregulation, involving maladaptive attempts such as binge eating and purging to regulate negative emotion.
If you're facing difficulties in self-regulation and it's causing problems in your life, we're here to help. Through therapy, we can guide you in understanding and managing your emotions, building resilience, improving your relationships, and enhancing your decision-making skills. Don't hesitate to reach out to us today for support.