Emotions are a vital part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re having a good laugh over a text message or feeling frustrated in rush hour traffic, you know that the highs and lows you experience can significantly affect your well-being. Gaining control over your emotions will help you become mentally stronger. Fortunately, anyone can become better at regulating their emotions. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication. These Steps to Controlling Your Emotions below would guide you to be more active in controlling your feeling.
Steps to Controlling Your Emotions
Change your thoughts
Your emotions affect the way you perceive events. If you’re feeling anxious and you get an email from the boss that says she wants to see you right away, you might assume you’re going to get fired. If however, you’re feeling happy when you get that same email, your first thought might be that you’re going to be promoted or congratulated on a job well done. At the core of our deepest emotions are the beliefs that drive them. You feel sad when you believe to have lost something, anger when you decide that an important goal is thwarted, and happy anticipation when you believe something good is coming your way. By changing your thoughts you may not be able to change the situation but you can at least change the way you believe the situation is affecting you. In cognitive reappraisal, you replace the thoughts that lead to unhappiness with thoughts that lead instead to joy or at least contentment.
Find a healthy outlet
Now that you’ve managed your emotion, you’ll need to release it in a healthy way. Emotions should never be bottled up. Call or go see someone you trust and recount to them what happened. Hearing an opinion other than your own broadens your awareness. Keep a journal and transfer your emotions from your inner self onto the paper. Many people find it helpful to engage in aggressive exercises, such as kickboxing or martial arts, to discharge their feelings. Others meditate and chant to return to a tranquil state of being. Perform whatever activity is best-suited to you in order to liberate your being from pent-up sentiments.
Forgive your emotional triggers
Your emotional triggers may be your best friend, your family members, yourself, or all of the above. You may feel a sudden wave of anger when your friend “does that thing she does,” or a stab of self-loathing when you remember something you could have done differently. But when you forgive, you detach. You detach from the resentment, the jealousy, or the fury lingering within you. You allow people to be who they are without the need for escalating emotions. As you forgive, you will find yourself disassociating from the harsh feelings attached to your being.
Breathe in deeply to calm yourself
When your emotions get away from you, your breathing will often get out of control as well, compounding your feelings of stress and anxiety. Cut off this spiral when you feel it happening by taking several deep breaths to calm down your mind and body. If you can, try a purposeful deep breathing technique for the most effective solution. Steps to Controlling Your Emotions:
- To try this technique, first, place one hand on your chest and the other below your rib cage. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of 4. Feel your lungs and abdomen expand as you fill them with air.
- Hold the breath for 1 or 2 seconds, then slowly release the breath through your mouth. Aim for 6-10 deep breaths per minute.
- If a full 4-count is difficult for you, you can start with a 2-count and work your way up with practice. Just try to make your breaths as deep and even as you can.
Change your response
If all else fails, and you can’t avoid, modify, shift your focus, or change your thoughts, and that emotion comes pouring out, the final step in emotion regulation is to get control of your response. Your heart may be beating out a steady drumroll of unpleasant sensations when you’re made to be anxious or angry. Take deep breaths and perhaps close your eyes in order to calm yourself down. Similarly, if you can’t stop laughing when everyone else seems serious or sad, gather your inner resources and force yourself at least to change your facial expression if not your mood.