Five Strategies for Regulating Emotions

Emotions are not inherently good or bad; they just are. When we are experiencing big emotions, it is difficult for us to think clearly, communicate effectively, and make good decisions. There are skills and techniques that we can develop to help us regulate our emotions, so that we can feel them without letting them take us over.

1. Self-awareness

Notice what you feel and name it.
You don’t have to act, or judge the emotion. Just notice it and name it.
What am I feeling right now? Am I feeling sad? hopeless? ashamed? anxious?

2. Mindfulness

Notice what’s happening around you – and in your body – right now.
Use breath control or sensory relaxation to calm the storm inside.
My shoulders are tense. I can move them around to relax and calm myself.

3. Re-thinking

This is called “cognitive reappraisal” and can help us get out of habits of negative thinking.
What would you say to your best friend who was having these thoughts?
Is this really true? How do I know it’s true? How can I think differently about this?

4. Self-compassion

Give yourself a break! You’re human! Remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be, of the things you’re good at and the good things you’ve done.
Try these self-compassion hacks:

  • Daily positive self-affirmations
  • Relaxation and breath control
  • Compassion meditation
  • Regular self-care
  • Gratitude journaling
  • Self-soothing

5. Emotional Support

You can get emotional support from yourself by practicing these strategies.
You can seek help from supportive people who will engage in positive communication with you, including friends, family, and/or a counselor or therapist.