Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Emotional Regulation Strategies

Are your emotions getting the better of you? If so, there are many strategies that you can learn to regulate your emotions. Many people try what is called situation selection. Here, you choose the situations you are in based on how you think you will feel or react in them. For example, if you fear crowds you may choose to avoid crowds. The benefit of this strategy is that it allows you to avoid certain difficult situations and avoid being overwhelmed by negative emotions. But situation selection alone can be very limiting despite allowing you to regulate your emotions...you may avoid driving, socializing, or trying new things...depending on the source of your fear or anxiety. The second strategy builds on the first by focusing on altering the environment. It is known as situation modification. Instead of avoiding or removing yourself from a situation, you're changing the situation to make it more comfortable for you. If you fear crowds, as in the example above, you may go into a crowded area keeping a barrier between you and others if possible. This can help your emotional regulation tactics for the better. Cognitive change is by far the most difficult but enduring and rewarding emotional regulation strategy. This can be accomplished in a number if ways. These include: Reappraisal-reinterpreting a negative event to alter its emotional impact. This is done after the event itself and focuses on the big picture, rather than ruminating on a few smaller details. Distancing- taking on a third person perspective of an emotional event. This allows one to interpret an event from a more neutral, less stressful standpoint. This is a good emotional regulation tactic for neutrality. Humor-redirecting negative emotions into something more positive by making it humorous. Positive good natured humor reduces negative emotions and their impact on the body and increases positive emotion, helping you regulate your emotions properly. Finally, exercise and healthy eating habits can greatly reduce negative emotions by reducing stress and improving your overall health. So, the next time you are in a bad mood or feeling stressed, fight the urge to skip the gym or that run! Remember that exercise can have a positive effect on your outlook. There are many strategies you can use to regulate your emotions. The first step is being mindful of your emotions, knowing how a situation makes you feel or might make you feel. Once you identify your emotions you can use some of the strategies above to change them for the better.