Emotional regulation is about being intentional about how we handle our emotions.
But we cannot regulate anything we’re unaware of, right?
I don’t want there to be any confusion about this concept so let’s get a few things cleared up, shall we?
Emotional regulation is not about suppressing or ignoring your feelings.
That can be harmful.
Emotional awareness is not about letting emotions spill all over the place and excuse your behavior.
That wouldn’t be a good look, my friend.
Instead, emotional awareness and regulation involves being conscious of our emotions and expressing them in healthy ways.
This helps us respond to situations thoughtfully instead of reacting impulsively, you feel me?
So, in essence, emotional awareness and regulation is a form of self-regulation, where we learn to manage our feelings and behavior effectively.
There are 5 daily practices that I have found extremely helpful in my journey of emotional awareness and regulation.
These practices are essential for me as a mom of two hyperactive teenagers, a business owner and full-time employee.
These daily practices are simple and do not take a lot of time to complete.
Daily practice 1: journal your feelings
I was the quiet one in my family. I always appeared to be cool as a cucumber externally, even in times of emergencies, yet internally there were a wide range of emotions happening on any given day.
Since I found it difficult to express how I was feeling verbally, I took to journaling early on in life.
I loved writing.
Writing helped me clarify my thinking and sort through my feelings.
It was a safe space for me to be completely honest about what I was experiencing, what was on my mind and what was on my heart.
I encourage you to avoid censoring or judging your feelings while journaling. Honesty is key to unlocking invaluable insight.
Daily practice 2: mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness means paying attention to yourself, your surroundings, and others in a focused and non-judgmental way.
It’s often practiced through meditation, where you observe your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them.
The goal is to train your mind to be more aware and accepting of everything around and within you. This helps you respond thoughtfully to situations, rather than automatically.
Mindfulness is about being aware and accepting things as they are.
Meditation, on the other hand, is about focusing your attention and not letting thoughts or emotions control you.
It helps people become more aware of their thoughts, notice when they get distracted, and refocus on the present moment, like their breathing.
Meditation and mindfulness work together. Meditation is used to calm the mind and bring peace, while mindfulness is about being aware and present, both during meditation and in everyday activities like walking or talking.
Don’t worry about doing it “right”. Practice over time will refine your technique. When starting out, your goal is simply to start and be consistent.
Daily practice 3: expressing gratitude
Gratitude can shift your focus from negative emotions to positive ones.
This practice involves actively recognizing and appreciating the positive aspects of life, no matter how small or ordinary they may seem.
It’s a shift in focus from what’s lacking or negative to what’s abundant and positive.
Four benefits of gratitude includes:
- Improves Mental Health: Studies have shown that gratitude can significantly decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. By focusing on positive elements, people can naturally shift their mindset away from negative thought patterns.
- Enhances Physical Health: Grateful people tend to take better care of their health. They experience fewer aches and pains and are more likely to engage in healthy activities and seek help for health concerns.
- Promotes Resilience: Gratitude helps in developing a stronger mental fortitude. It enables individuals to recover more quickly from stress and trauma by focusing on the positives in their life, even during tough times.
- Improves Relationships: Expressing gratitude can strengthen existing relationships and help build new ones. Thanking others, acknowledging their help, or simply appreciating their presence can enhance social bonds.
Don’t just go through the motions. Try to genuinely feel the gratitude as you reflect on each item.
Through regular practice, gratitude can not only change how you see the world but also how you experience it.
Daily practice 4: effective communication
Effective communication involves more than just speaking verbally; it’s also about being aware of nonverbal cues like eye contact, body language and tone of voice.
Communicating emotions clearly and effectively is crucial in developing emotional awareness.
Emotionally charged situations often require patience and tact.
It’s important to recognize when to speak and when to listen.
Practicing assertiveness while maintaining empathy ensures that your emotions are communicated respectfully and effectively.
Remember, it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.
It helps to practice active listening, where you not only hear but understand and empathize with what others are saying.
This skill allows for a deeper connection with others and helps to avoid misunderstandings.
Avoid bottling up emotions until they overflow. Practice expressing your emotions in a clear and constructive manner. Consistent and honest communication is key.
For more on communication, read this:
Daily practice 5: reflecting on emotional responses
Understanding why you react the way you do in certain situations can improve emotional regulation.
Reflection involves examining the root cause of your emotional responses.
- Are they rooted in past experiences, fears, or unmet expectations?
Sometimes, our emotions are influenced by physical factors like stress, fatigue, or even hunger, which can distort our perception and reaction to situations.
Other times, our emotions are influenced by the meaning we assign to people and situations.
- Is that person “really” out to get you or have you created a story based on your assumptions and assigned meaning to their behavior?
Maybe you caught them on a hangry day and their behavior/mood has nothing to do with you. ( Just something to consider….)
Reflecting on emotional responses also includes recognizing patterns in your behavior.
- Do you tend to react impulsively under stress?
- Do certain types of situations or people trigger strong emotions in you?
Identifying these patterns can help you prepare and respond more effectively in the future.
Over time, you’ll start to notice patterns and can work on strategies to manage similar situations better in the future.
Don’t ignore or suppress your emotional responses. Acknowledge them as a critical step in understanding and managing them.
Improving emotional awareness and regulation doesn’t require drastic changes to your daily routine.
Small, consistent practices can lead to developing an emotionally intelligent version of yourself.
Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can lead to significant improvements in how you understand and manage your emotions, contributing to both personal well-being and professional success.
Remember, the journey to emotional intelligence is ongoing and unique for each individual. Embrace it with patience and self-compassion.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this story. If you need additional support, I’d love to help!