When your emotions are under control, everything in your life becomes easier. You’ll be able to focus on what’s important, accomplish your goals, and build stronger relationships.
It is said that the only constant in life is change. This is especially true when it comes to the human brain. Although the brain is capable of forming long-term memories, it’s constantly changing in response to the individual’s environment and experiences.
This flexibility allows the brain to adapt to new situations and learn new information. However, it also means that the brain can be susceptible to changes that impair its ability to function properly.
One type of cognitive change that can occur is known as emotional dysregulation.
What is emotional dysregulation?
Emotional dysregulation is a term used to describe difficulties in regulating intense and varied emotional states.
This can manifest in a number of ways, such as feeling overwhelmed by emotions, having difficulty controlling emotional outbursts, or being prone to mood swings.
While everyone experiences some level of difficulty relating to managing their emotions from time to time, it can become a problem when it starts to interfere with everyday life.
According to research, emotional dysregulation is a key factor in various psychiatric disorders including borderline personality disorder, depression, suicidal behavior, depression and post traumatic stress.
We might be the master of our own thoughts, still we are the slaves of our own emotions.Unknown
What causes emotional dysregulation?
Emotional dysregulation can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, trauma, negative childhood experiences including childhood abuse and neglect, problematic relationship/attachment issues with caregivers, stress, and medical conditions.
Fortunately, there are ways to help the brain regain the control of emotions.
Step 1: Recognize when you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated
The first step to improve emotional dysregulation is to be aware of when you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated.
This can be difficult, as emotions can be overwhelming and hard to control.
However, it’s important to try to notice when you’re starting to feel out of control.
Tips for recognizing when you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated
(a) Pay attention to your body
Your body can be a good indicator of when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.
For example, you may notice that your heart rate is increasing, you’re starting to sweat, or you feel tense.
(b) Notice your thoughts and feelings
If you’re feeling out of control, your thoughts and feelings may become more negative and intrusive.
You may start to worry about things that normally wouldn’t bother you, or you may feel like you’re in a dark place.
(c) Be aware of your behaviors
When you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated, you may find yourself acting in ways that you normally wouldn’t.
For example, you may start to scream, cry, or lash out at others.
Step 2: Take a step back to control your emotions
Once you’ve recognized that you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated, it’s important to try to take a step back from the situation.
Try to distance yourself from the emotion and observe it as if it were happening to someone else.
This will help you to avoid getting caught up in the emotion and will allow you to better control it.
STEP 3: Identify the trigger to avoid emotional dysregulation
Once you’ve recognized that you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated, the next step is to try to identify the trigger. What was happening when you started to feel out of control?
Was there a particular event or situation that set off your emotions?
Tips for identifying the trigger
(a) Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings
What were you thinking about when you started to feel out of control? Were you worrying about something specific?
(b) Recall the situation
What was happening when you started to feel out of control? Was there a particular event or situation that set off your emotions?
(c) Be aware of your environment
Was there anything in your environment that may have contributed to your emotions?
For example, if you’re feeling anxious, was there a lot of noise or stimulation?
Emotions are temporary states of mind. Don’t let them permanently destroy you.Unknown
STEP 4: Self-soothing techniques for emotional dysregulation
Once you’ve identified the trigger, the next step is to use self-soothing techniques to try to calm yourself down.
Tips for using self-soothing techniques
(a) Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing can help to calm your body and mind. Consider taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on the sensation of the breath going in and out of your body.
(b) Use positive self-talk
Positive self-talk can help to reframe negative thoughts and emotions. Reassure yourself that you’re capable of handling the situation and that it will eventually pass.
For example, you might say something like, “I can handle this,” or “I’m strong enough to get through this.”
(c) Visualize a calm place
Visualization can be a powerful tool for calming the mind. Close your eyes and picture a peaceful place where you feel safe and relaxed.
This could be a beach, a forest, or anywhere else that makes you feel calm.
(d) Engage in relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce stress and promote calm.
Mindfulness training involves learning how to focus on the present moment and developing an increased awareness of thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Research has shown that mindfulness training can help to improve emotional regulation by reducing the reactivity of the amygdala, a region of the brain involved in processing emotions.
In addition, mindfulness training can also help to reduce stress and increase well-being.
Thus, it is an effective way to help the brain master the control of emotions.
STEP 5: Create a plan to improve emotional dysregulation
After you’ve taken some deep breaths and used positive self-talk, it’s important to create a plan.
This will help you to better deal with the emotion and will prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
For example, you might decide to take a break from the situation, or you might set some boundaries with the person who is causing you to feel emotionally dysregulated.
Tips for creating a plan
(a) Break down the task
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to break the task down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
For example, if you’re feeling anxious about a presentation, make a list of the things you need to do in order to prepare. Then, focus on one thing at a time.
(b) Set realistic goals
When you’re setting goals, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t try to do too much at once, or set goals that are impossible to achieve.
Start small and build up from there.
Read also: How to create a personal wellness plan
STEP 6: Practice self-care
When you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated, it’s important to take care of yourself.
This includes both physical self-care (e.g., getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet) and emotional self-care (e.g., spending time with supportive people, doing things you enjoy).
Failing to do so may result in burnout or further worsening of symptoms.
Tips for practicing self-care
(a) Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for managing stress and emotions. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
(b) Eat a balanced diet
Eating a healthy diet can help to improve your mood and energy levels. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
Exercise can help to release tension and improve your mood.
A moderate amount of exercise is the key – too much or too little can actually make emotions worse.
(d) Do things you enjoy
Make sure to schedule in time for activities that make you happy.
This could be reading, spending time outdoors, or listening to music.
Don’t allow your emotions to overpower your intelligence.Unknown
STEP 7: Join a support group
There are often support groups available for people who are dealing with emotional dysregulation.
This can be a helpful way to meet others who understand what you’re going through and to share coping strategies.
You can ask your therapist, doctor, or local mental health agency for recommendations.
When you’re looking for a support group, it’s important to find one that feels safe and supportive.
This may mean finding a group that specializes in the issue you’re dealing with, or it may simply mean finding a group of people who you feel comfortable with.
Once you’ve found a group, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of it:
Tips to improve your support group experience
(a) Be open and honest
For a support group to be beneficial, you need to be open and honest about your experiences.
This can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that everyone in the group is there to offer support.
(b) Listen and share
In addition to sharing your own experiences, listen to what others have to say.
This can help you to feel understood and can give you new perspectives on your own situation.
(c) Respect confidentiality
Be cognizant of the fact that what’s said in the group stays in the group.
This will help everyone feel safe and comfortable sharing their experiences.
If you’re not sure if a support group is right for you, you can always try attending one or two meetings to see how you feel.
You may also want to look for online support groups if you’re not comfortable meeting in person.
STEP 8: Be patient to improve emotional dysregulation
Managing emotions can be difficult, so be patient with yourself. It takes time and practice to learn how to effectively regulate emotions.
Give yourself grace and know that you’ll get there eventually.
Tips for being patient
(a) Try not to be too hard on yourself.
(b) Set realistic goals.
(c) Take things one step at a time.
(d) Remember that progress takes time.
STEP 9: Professional help to improve emotional dysregulation
If you find that you’re struggling to cope with emotional dysregulation, seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.
This can be especially helpful if you’ve experienced trauma or if you have a mental health condition.
You intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”Roger Ebert
Emotional dysregulation in children
Emotional dysregulation can arise in children of all ages, though it is most commonly seen in toddlers and preschoolers.
Emotional dysregulation can manifest in a number of ways, including tantrums, emotional outbursts, and difficulty transitioning between activities.
While emotional dysregulation is a normal part of child development, it can become a problem if it begins to interfere with daily life.
If your child is having difficulty managing their emotions, it may be time to seek professional help.
A therapist can teach your child coping skills and help them to develop better emotional regulation.
Final words on emotional dysregulation
Emotional dysregulation can be a difficult thing to deal with, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
There are many resources and people who can help you to cope with this condition.
With the right support, you can learn to manage your emotions and live a full and satisfying life.
How can I control my emotions under pressure?
Learning to control your emotions under pressure is a process that takes time and practice.
However, there are some things you can do to get started. Click here to find out exactly what they are.
Why is it important to control my emotions?
Everyone has experienced feeling overwhelmed by emotions at some point in their lives. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to control what you say or do.
However, learning to control your emotions is important for a number of reasons. Read more
Bradley B, DeFife JA, Guarnaccia C, Phifer J, Fani N, Ressler KJ, Westen D. Emotion dysregulation and negative affect: association with psychiatric symptoms. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 May;72(5):685-91.