We all have times when emotions get the best of us. We may have an angry outburst or be overcome with anxiety.
Though, by gaining self-awareness about how we feel and learning to regulate emotions, we can start to experience more positive emotions and elevate our mood.
Just as anger, sadness, and fear have a trigger, so to do positive emotions such as joy, passion, and love.
You can start to prompt positive emotions by learning how to recognize and manage emotional cues, what you think about, and the habits you have.
Here are a few skills to help you learn how to regulate emotions.
Identify and label emotions
The first step to regulate emotions is learning to identify and label the current emotion. This is not always an easy task as emotions occur quite rapidly.
So, a good starting place is to begin examining:
- What prompted the emotion: What was the trigger for the emotional response? Where were you, who were you with, what were you doing…?
- What was going on in your body: The heart rate may increase, breathing increases, pupils dilate, and the mouth may become dry. Notice how your body changes.
- How you felt about the event: Feeling gives emotions labels such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise. Labeling is often learned through culture and experience. How are you labeling the way you feel?
- What behaviors you were expressing: When experiencing emotions people have certain facial expressions, body movements, and actions that indicate how they are feeling.
Be proactive and seek balance
When it comes our emotional response, it is more likely we will be reactive to how we feel when we are under high levels of stress and feeling on edge. So, trying to keep emotional balance provides a buffer against times when we might feel overwhelmed or exhausted.
This includes balancing nutrition and healthy eating, getting the proper amount of sleep, exercising, staying off mood altering drugs, and continuing to develop mindfulness.
When we have high-levels of stress it is tough to problem solve effectively. So learning to recognize emotional changes before you are overwhelmed is the key.
Increase positive experiences
What do you enjoy doing?
Engaging in positive events and activities is a great way to increase positive emotions. You might have to make life changes in order to have time for these experiences if you don’t currently do so, but finding time to engage in pleasurable activities is an important part of increasing subjective well-being.
Make efforts to partake in activities that stimulate your mind and offer an experience of self-expression. Seek activities where you are fully immersed and personally motivated.
Taking opposite action
A great technique to change the way you feel, is to change your behavior and the way you act. Behavioral expressions are an important part of emotional experience, so by changing our expressions we can change how we feel.
When you are angry and want to attack someone, try doing something nice for them instead. When you’re feeling upset and having a bad day, try putting a smiling on your face or doing something that makes you laugh.
All emotions are a natural expression of human life. For this reason we don’t want to be critical of ourselves when we aren’t “happy.” There are ways to enjoy life and feel more pleasure and meaning, but through the process there will be ups and downs we have to deal with.
Learn to be mindful of how you feel and don’t denying or judge your emotional experience. You aren’t a bad person for feeling angry, sad, or fearful. Embrace the emotional experience and work through it.
Let yourself get in touch with your emotions and learn how to use them more effectively so you can begin having more positive emotions and start feeling better.