Everyone experiences moments when their emotions become beyond their control and they are not able to keep their feelings in check. You might cry or yell at someone in anger and then regret your inability to control your emotions. The occasional emotional moment is normal and not a serious problem but if you begin to find that your emotions are running your life or you can’t control your behavior then you might need to focus on emotional regulation strategies.
The average person has appropriate emotional responses in times of sadness, anger, or excitement. Some individuals have issues of emotional dysregulation which means that their emotional response to certain situations is poorly modulated and is stronger than other people’s natural emotions. People with emotional dysregulation might have frequent angry outbursts, problems with aggression or other behavioral problems.
When emotions become out of control people might turn to coping behaviors to help them handle their feelings as they engage in destructive habits. They might start to have issues with smoking, using alcohol or drugs, develop an eating disorder, or engage in self-harm. Those who have difficulty regulating their emotions have a much higher risk of developing an addiction or symptoms of a mental illness.
If you feel that your emotions cause you to frequent behave in ways that seem inappropriate to the situation then you may have a problem with emotional regulation. Whenever emotions begin to interfere with our life and hinder our relationships or ability to work it is necessary to get help. There are many ways to try to improve your ability to self-regulate your feelings and prevent problematic emotional responses.
Learning to Self-Regulate
Having an emotional reaction to certain events is a natural part of life and attempting to suppress emotions is not healthy. Regulating is different than suppressing feelings because it allows you to still feel your own natural response without letting it get out of hand. If you have problems with your emotions getting out of hand then you can learn healthy coping mechanisms which allow you to channel the feelings before they become uncontrollable.
Negative coping mechanisms such as drinking, using drugs, self-harm or lashing out should be eliminated to improve emotional regulation. These behaviors only make the problem worse and are not effective ways to manage your emotional state. Make an effort to quit any substance abuse in your life if you haven’t already.
There are plenty of more positive options for coping mechanisms that can help with emotional regulation. Strategies like counting to ten when you feel angry, talking with friends when you feel lonely or sad, going for a walk when you are stressed or journaling when you are upset can all be effective coping mechanisms. It is a matter of finding out which coping strategy works best for you in any given situation.
Meditation as Emotional Regulation Strategies
Using positive coping strategies any time you are experiencing extreme emotions can give you time to let yourself cool down without attempting to bottle up your feelings. One of the most beneficial emotional regulation strategies to try is meditating regularly. Meditating can have numerous benefits for your mental health and can make emotions less intense throughout the day.
Meditation consists of sitting quietly in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Keeping your attention on your breathing tends to quiet down your thoughts, relax your body and release some of the tension that can be associated with strong emotions. People who meditate regularly are less likely to have intense emotional outbursts and can often remain more calm in difficult situations.
Mindful meditation is one of the most effective methods for emotional regulation because it helps people become more present so that they are not holding onto past hurt and letting their history of emotions build up. Mindfulness can make people more aware and less reactive because they can keep themselves in the present moment. It can take time for meditation to change a person’s emotional responses but with regular practice it tends to have great benefits on the ability to self-regulate.
Therapy and Treatment
One of the best strategies for learning to regulate your emotions is getting regular sessions with a therapist. With the help of psychotherapy you can begin to understand why you have such extreme emotional reactions and your therapist can help guide you through emotional regulation strategies for handling your feelings. In some cases there can be underlying issues such as a traumatic childhood or an undiagnosed disorder which could be to blame for your emotional issues.
With professional treatment from a therapist you can learn how to release your emotions in healthier ways and avoid some of the negative consequences that can occur when your feelings become out of control. If you are struggling with emotional issues then look for a treatment center in your area that can provide you with individual psychotherapy sessions.