How Mindfulness Can Help You Regulate Emotions
We live in a day and age where people are consumed with daily pressure and overloaded with stress from work, family, finances and other obligations.
What do you do to cope during these moments of stress and frustration?
Whether you’re personally struggling to manage your emotions or you know someone in your life who seems to be emotionally sensitive, practicing mindful awareness can be a tool for regulating these difficult emotions.
Mindfulness is generally characterized as having present moment awareness, where we observe our current experience of thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental manner.
Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for therapeutic purposes by decreasing emotional distress and helping to reduce depression – though mindfulness can also be a valuable means for dealing with everyday pressures as well.
Learning to be mindful of our ongoing experiences can help us cope with stress while still remaining productive and goal oriented. It is a practice to help us accept the present moment in a calm and collected manner, without getting caught up in racing thoughts or overwhelmed with uncomfortable emotions.
This works for me when I have an exceptionally busy day. I may have numerous appointments and a string of different things to do. Instead of getting overwhelmed and trapped in thinking about the next scheduled deadline or how busy I am, I can remain present in the moment and keep an objective perspective.
I typically use mindful breathing during these moments when I’m on the go. Here is an article for learning more about mindful breathing if you’re interested.
So how does mindfulness help with regulating emotions?
Less emotional reactivity
Often when emotions emerge they lead to an urge to take action and react. Mindfulness can help us be less reactive and deal with fluctuating emotions by developing greater awareness of how we feel, as well as learning to accept the current experience in a more objective manner.
This can ultimately help us reframe how we perceive the situation so it is less emotional and upsetting. When a distressing feeling emerges we can acknowledge it and let it pass with the awareness that emotions come and go.
Differentiating between emotions
An important function of managing emotions is being able to identify and acknowledge the feeling. When we can recognize and be aware of our emotions it allows us to cope and respond in a more conscious manner. It provides greater clarity on the emotional experience overall and gives a means to describe our feelings.
Overall greater emotional intelligence and regulation
All in all, being mindful helps keep us in the driver’s seat of our behavior and actions.
We can remain in a position of greater control and manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us. Emotions and feelings communicate to us, and by practicing the skill of mindfulness we can begin to respond to emotions more effectively.
Wilner, J. (2012). How Mindfulness Can Help You Regulate Emotions. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 27, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2012/04/how-mindfulness-can-help-you-regulate-emotions/