“My message for everyone is the same: that if we can learn to identify, express, and harness our feelings, even the most challenging ones, we can use those emotions to help us create positive, satisfying lives.” – Marc Brackett
Emotions comprise feelings that arise from situations, moods and relationships. They can be a response to internal as well as external stimuli. They are the central and usual part of life. The imbalance of emotions causes a lot of problems. The world is observing the increase in depression, anxiety, stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emotional regulation is the ability to control our emotionality. Some methods include focusing on happy and calm moments to reduce anxiety. This is called down-regulation, that is, to reduce the intensity of emotions. There is a process model given by James Gross that states that people can control their emotions at different points in time. Several techniques can be used to effectively manage emotions.
When people are unable to manage their emotions this refers to dysregulation. People fail to abide by the accepted range of emotional expression. This may lead them to criticism. It can even cause lifetime problems like relationship issues.
Research on incoming college students in 2016 reveals that 12% of 137,000 respondents felt frequently depressed in the past year. Moreover, one-third of them often felt anxious during the same time period (American Freshman Survey). Does the cycle ends here? No, this becomes a vicious circle that leads to insomnia, frustration, poor lifestyle and a weak immune system. The consequences of imbalance are devastating. But there are ways to handle and regulate emotions.
The ways to regulate emotions can be generally divided into healthy ones and unhealthy ones. The unhealthy ones come into play when an individual is unable to adapt and resolve the irregularities of their emotions. Unhealthy emotional regulation habits include judging yourself, low self-esteem, irregular lifestyle, always stressing and overthinking, not acknowledging your feelings, suppressing and not attempting to regulate emotions. Thus, it becomes vital to effectively manage and regulate emotions in an adequate way.
Some ways to regulate emotions in a healthy way are as follows:
Meditation: This widely used word is beneficial for emotional well-being as well as for good health. It calms your mind, increases self-awareness, imagination and creativity, reduces stress and blood pressure and relaxes the whole body. It is one of the best ways to reduce distress as studies have shown that meditation checks anxiety levels around 60% of the time. Statistics for productivity in correlation with meditation are fascinating. It shows that meditation increases the productivity of an employee by 120%. It is even advantageous for children as it reduces school suspension chances by 45%. Aren’t the statistics attractive enough to make meditation a habit?
Journal: When there is no one to let your feelings out, a journal arrives for the rescue. It allows you to express your feelings that were stuck inside. Moreover, studies have concluded that people journaling results in reduced symptoms of depression. (Koopman, Ismailji, Holmes, Classen, Palesh, & Wales, 2005).
Attention - Shifting Strategies: It is a temporary method to divert our mind from a situation that is bothering us. We must take care that we don't overdo it. One example is shifting our attention to entertainment that releases dopamine and makes the mood fresh. It is effective but for a short period.
Positive - self-talk: This is a way to be empathetic with yourself. Research studies have shown that using your first name in self-talk drops the chances of distress. Avoid negative thoughts which might occur during self-talk. Just focus on the positive ones.
Identify and accept: Many problems would curb at an initial stage if we identify the source of something that is troubling us and accept it. For example, an individual is worried due to low marks in an exam even when efforts were enough. Here the person has to identify that an exam and expectation of certain marks is making him upset. He needs to accept that it is okay to feel sad and absolutely okay to have fewer marks in an exam. One exam doesn't define his life. A good way forward could be to have an action plan that serves well for you. There has to be a balance of identifying the root cause, accepting and working on it.
When the youth is heading towards depression, anxiety, stress and imbalance, the future stands at risk. It is time to re-think that emotion are an integral part of life which needs attention. Emotion regulation assists in focusing better on tasks, controlling impulse and having problem-solving potential. It helps in coping up with stress better. It enables a person to respond efficiently to the situation. Emotions should help us feel powerful and complete instead of irritating us.
Credits: Reetu Ravani
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