Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Dancing Through Life's Lessons: Emotional Regulation

You can’t control how some people will treat you or what they’ll say about you. But you can control how you react to it.

February is Psychology Month, where psychologists, therapist and even psychology majors (such as myself) raise awareness about why psychology is important in our daily lives. We do this by talking about a topic we know a lot about. Today, I will be talking about what emotional regulation is, why it matters and how to alter your reactions to what people say about you.

First of all, what is emotional regulation? According to Psychology Today, emotional regulation is a complex process that involves initiating, inhibiting or modulating ones state or behavior in a given situation. For example, let’s say you’re having a fight with someone who hurt you and you want to hurt them back. Instead of acting upon those feelings, walking away from the person to calm down would be a way to regulate the anger you were feeling. 
So why is emotional regulation important? Emotions are an extremely important part of our life, and they have a profound affect on our daily lives. If we continuously act upon our feelings of not being loved, hating everyone, or wanting someone to die, it could have some tragic consequences on our life and the lives of others around us. I’m not saying, we should ignore what we feel, we just need to utilize them in a safe manner which is exactly what I’m going to talk about next.
Due to being a empath, I feel emotions on a stronger level than most people. Sometimes I feel emotions that aren’t even mine, such as my parent’s stress or anger when my younger brother is acting out again. I love calming and mindful ways to channel my emotions. These tips can work for most situations. So let’s begin.

         1. Walk Away
The first and foremost thing to do to regulate your emotions when someone is bothering you is to walk away. You are not obligated to tell them why. Just walk away. Far away. Switch seats, change rooms, get in your car and drive somewhere, just do anything reasonable to get away from the culprit of your emotions. 
2. Meditate
Once you’ve left the situation, find a private place, whether it be your room, your car or even a public restroom if need be, and meditate. I try to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, usually first thing in the morning (even before I look at my phone). When I’m out and about or short on time, I’ll turn on the 5 minute mediation on my Simply Being app. It takes me through a simple exercise that helps me calm down. The purpose of meditating is to concentrate on your breathing which will clear your mind and help relieve a fast heart beat or any other physical symptoms you may be feeling.
3. Express it
When I say express it, I do not mean, act upon your feelings. That can cause some detrimental consequences if you’re not careful. The way I express my feelings is through music and dancing. I’ll put on a song that I feel a connection with and I’ll just dance to it, regardless if my technique is correct or not. When I dance I can leave the real world and enter my own. For some people, this could be drawing, singing, acting etc. Utilize your emotions in a way that is healthy for you. 
4. Cry
This one is sketchy. Naturally, as you get older you think that crying is a sign of weakness. In fact, as cliched as this is gonna sound, crying is a sign of pain leaving the body. I’m not saying that you should burst into tears if someone confronts you. In that situation, crying would only make it worse. I’m saying that if you need to cry, go to a private place like your room, a public bathroom or my personal fave…the shower. Crying releases endorphins which is the “feel good” hormone. So naturally, after a good cry, you’ll feel better.
5. Talk about it
Sometimes all you want is to be heard. You want people to acknowledge that you have feelings too. By expressing your emotions verbally, they are validated and allowed to exist. You are allowed to feel and to be as you are, without being requested or expected to change.
So call up a friend, or a trusted adult. Ask them just to listen and to give you empathy. Make sure to tell those “fix - it” friends that you just want to talk and be heard. Ask them not to say anything but just to open their ears and nod.
6. Change it
This is probably the hardest way to regulate your emotions. To change feeling sad to feeling happy. Remember the prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you can’t accept the situation - change it. 
Make sure all the more prevalent emotions like anger, hate, jealousy etc have been completely dissolved in the way that helps you. Next, instead of wallowing in your emotions, take action to change the situation that caused you to feel that way. If you aren’t sure what to do, try something small. This would be the perfect time to ask a trusted someone for advice.

So all in all, what you choose to do depends on you and the situation. You actions will make the situation better or worse. Before you do anything, meditate for two minutes. Get a clear head and then take action. I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you did please give this post a +1 on Google+, share this with all the people in your lives and leave me a comment with one thing you learned from this post! See you all later!

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  1. This post was honestly so meaningful, and you know I feel passionately about mental health so I really enjoyed reading this. I totally agree with everything you said xxx

  2. I never even knew about emotional things like these! I am an empath too and I overthink loads so I find it hard in those situations! I find it difficult to speak up about my emotions so I keep it all in until bursting point which I know is the worst! Have you got any tips for that?
    Chloe ♡
    thank you for this post x

    1. Yay! Empath buddies! Definitely read my "Strategies for Empaths" post. It has lots of tips. I always try to keep my emotions hidden until I have a breakdown. I suggest you try writing your feelings down in a journal. And once you're done writing them down, stop thinking about whatever it was that made you mad or sad. It's almost like when you write them down and close the journal, they are trapped in the pages.
      Also if someone makes you mad, walk away, breathe until you feel calm and then kindly explain to them what made you mad. It's hard to do but it definitely works. Hopefully they help!