The Vast World of Emotion-Regulation


Emotion-regulation has been on my mind lately, as I'm noticing myself piling up good novels on my bedside table, making a to-do list for the next day, and longing for walks outside (and sometimes taking them). 

Emotion-regulation is a fancy way of saying that you're adjusting something within yourself or your environment to feel more or less of an emotion. The intention of emotion-regulation is to get to a point where you can listen and respond to your emotion(s) in a conscious way.

We do hundreds (maybe thousands) of actions every day to help us regulate our emotions, so that we can get necessary information and move forward in a slightly more conscious and intelligent way (let's be honest, it's a process). 

We all do this, to varying degrees, with varying success. Sometimes we do things to up-regulate, or to feel things more intensely, such as drinking coffee (for some people), or listening to loud music (again, for some people).

Sometimes we do things to down-regulate, such as having a glass of wine, or bingeing on a Netflix show.

So when I say that I'm piling up good novels, it means that I'm looking forward to diving into someone else's life for a while. I think of it as borrowing their emotions so that I can give myself enough distance from what I'm feeling to be able to see it, name it, and work with it. 

Making a to-do list helps me harness the energy of my anxiety (which is about planning for the future) into a concrete list that I can look forward to tackling the next day. And when I look forward to something, I'm inviting in happiness.

When I long to take a walk, that's my envy telling me that I'd like more exercise and nature in my life right now. When I do take a walk, physically using my body helps me connect with my emotions and it gives me an outlet for excess energy. I'm also inviting in soft joy, as I'm focused on staying present in the moment and appreciating the natural beauty around me.

Almost any action can be emotion-regulating. Tapping your foot, stretching, picking your nose, working in the garden, taking a walk, going for a drive, cooking a meal, going shopping, meditating...the list is endless.

I'd like your help to create a list of emotion-regulation actions or practices to post on my website for anyone to access. Would you be willing to contribute?

What you do to regulate your emotions? 
What do you do to up-regulate your emotions? 
What do you do to down-regulate your emotions?

I'd love to hear from you.