Everything You Need to Know About Emotion Regulation


person with head down in distress

Emotion regulation describes the mental and behavioral processes by which individuals influence their own feelings to correspond appropriately to a situation. If you have struggled with addiction in the past, you may realize that you have viewed situations as more negative than they needed to be or reacting more harshly to a situation that what was necessary. Emotion regulation isn’t the same as coping, because coping is an action that is done in response to a negative event, whereas emotion regulation relies on regulating the inward feelings towards the event. They are connected, however.

Consider a time in the past when you became a little “too” upset over a minor issue. How did you respond? How did you feel? There are two key tactics that have proven effective for emotion regulation: reappraisal and distraction. Reappraisal involves thinking about the situation from a unique perspective; a 2014 study conducted by a team of researchers from Italy found that reappraisal was shown to be healthier for participants’ well-being in terms of short-term emotion regulation, as well as cognitive and social consequences. Distraction involves thinking or doing something different to assist in changing one’s feelings towards something.

It may seem that some people are better at regulating their emotions than others – this is connected to emotional intelligence, the ability to manage and control one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships with respect and appropriateness. If you feel that your emotional intelligence is low, however, don’t worry. Emotional intelligence can be developed further, improving your overall emotion regulation.

A reputable treatment center should provide you with a variety of activities to help you develop this area; tools such as mindfulness and meditation, group activities and discussions, music therapy, art and writing therapy, and more can help you to tune more into the ways you naturally respond to upsetting events. In addition, psychotherapy provides you with an opportunity to learn newer skills and ways of thinking. A study published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that emotion regulation has a direct affect on stress level. By working toward strengthening your emotion regulation capabilities in treatment, you are progressing towards your happiness, health, and well-being.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse treatment program. We believe in holistic recovery, meaning that we will work with you to restore your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re seeking treatment for either substance abuse or dual diagnosis, call us at 888-743-0490. There are many people that can help you develop the tools you need to succeed.