By Ian Kennedy Founder of True Wellness
Emotional regulation refers to the ability to manage and control one's emotions effectively. It is an essential skill that allows individuals to maintain emotional balance and respond appropriately to a variety of situations. Emotional regulation has numerous health benefits, including improved physical and mental health, better relationships, and increased resilience.
Improved Physical and Mental Health
Individuals who can regulate their emotions effectively are better equipped to cope with life's challenges, and they are less likely to experience physical illnesses such as digestive issues, headaches, and fatigue. In addition, controlling anxiety and anger helps to stabilize heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, individuals who can regulate their emotions are also less likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness.
Emotional regulation also has a significant impact on relationships. Individuals who can regulate their emotions are more empathetic, better listeners, and more capable of responding appropriately to their loved ones' needs. They are less likely to lash out or become defensive, leading to more positive interactions and stronger connections with others. Lastly, they are less likely to experience loneliness and isolation.
In addition to improving mental and physical health, as well as relationships, emotional regulation also increases resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from adversity and maintain a sense of well-being, even in challenging circumstances.
Individuals who can regulate their emotions effectively are better equipped to handle stress and adversity, and they are less likely to become overwhelmed or give up in the face of difficulty. They can maintain a positive outlook and find constructive solutions to problems, leading to greater success and fulfillment in life.
Strategies for Improving Emotional Regulation Skills
The health benefits of emotional regulation are numerous and far-reaching. However, achieving emotional regulation can be challenging, particularly for individuals who have experienced trauma or who struggle with mental health problems. There are several strategies that individuals can use to improve their emotional regulation skills.
Mindfulness involves paying outwardly attention to the present moment without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, allowing them to regulate their emotions more effectively. Growing into the knowledge that emotions are information received through the five senses, giving us feedback as to what is being perceived in the environment also can lessen emotional stress.
Meditativeness involves paying inwardly attention to the present moment without judgment or aspirations of any attainment. This creates distance and perspective as to the manifestation of one's emotional life.
Emotional Release Technique is a kinesiological based therapy that helps individuals identify old stored negative thought patterns and perceived emotional stressors that are patterned in the system and replace them with more positive and adaptive ones. This approach can be especially helpful for individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, phobias and other emotionally triggered reactions.
Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress. Engaging in regular physical activity can help individuals regulate their emotions and improve their overall well-being.
Practicing self-care or taking time to care for oneself, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy, help individuals regulate their emotions and maintain a positive outlook.
Try the “lean back” approach created by Zen master Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) who advised his students to “lean back.” Applying it to emotional regulation reinforces the ability to take a moment before responding to any outward situation emotionally. Sometimes when things get difficult or emotionally charged, the body begins to react in undesirable ways, and the best thing to do is “lean back” for a moment. Leaning back gives other aspects of our conscious mind, subconscious mind and emotional mind to assess, address and respond.
Silence, Stillness and Solitude: Being in silence, being alone and being still for even short periods of time will increase resilience and emotional awareness and regulation. (Reference the articles on Silence, Stillness and Solitude.)
In conclusion, emotional regulation is a critical skill that can have numerous health benefits. By improving emotional regulatory skills, individuals can improve their mental health, physical health, and relationships as well as increase their resilience.
Working on emotional regulation increases health and wellness in many ways both seen and unseen. Building emotional resilience as well as emotional congruence within one's present life offers physical relief, mental flexibility and emotional resilience that fortifies a person to gracefully move through life.
SpringerLink. (2020). Emotion Regulation. https://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_811
ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Emotion Regulation - an overview. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/emotion-regulation
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. (n.d.). What is emotion regulation and how do we do it? https://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/perch/resources/what-is-emotion-regulationsinfo-brief.pdf
Kanske, P., Böckler, A., Trautwein, F.-M., & Singer, T. (2015). The ability to regulate emotion is associated with greater well-being, income, and socioeconomic status. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175372/
Positive Psychology. (2019). Emotional Regulation: 6 Key Skills to Regulate Emotions. https://positivepsychology.com/emotion-regulation/
Weymar, M., Schwabe, L., & Hamm, A. O. (2020). Emotion Regulation in Everyday Life: The Role of Goals and Situational Factors. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00877/full
Ian Kennedy, Founder of True Wellness