Emotions shape our lives in powerful ways. They give us the ability to feel and experience the world around us. They influence us on many different levels and are closely linked to our thoughts, behaviors, and overall mental health. Adults and children alike experience complex emotional states. Consider the variety of “feeling” words that exist to describe our many emotions! There are highs, lows, and everything in between. Because emotional experiences are dynamic and influential, it makes sense that sometimes our emotions serve us well, and other times, they can lead us into difficulty.

What Is Emotional Regulation?

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage your emotional responses. We often cannot control the things that life throws our way, but we can learn to control our response. A person who is able to take charge of their emotions instead of allowing their emotions to take over is practicing emotional regulation. It does not mean you are avoiding negative emotions or negative feelings. You’re simply noticing and monitoring your feelings so you’re able to adjust and respond effectively in different situations. Essentially, emotional self-regulation allows you to keep your emotions in check.

Why is Emotional Regulation Important?

Having self-awareness and being able to tune into how you’re feeling helps you to greet your emotions in a healthy way. It’s almost as if you take a step back and process your emotions before reacting to them. This space between an emotion and a reaction allows you to better understand how you’re feeling and make adjustments to your emotional control as needed. That’s not to say you shouldn’t live in the moment. It just means you are able to supervise and even alter your emotional reactions when you need to.

Emotional regulation is a type of emotional intelligence. People of all ages can practice emotion regulation skills to overcome their emotional dysregulation issues. It starts with learning how to identify and express your feelings in helpful ways. Learn more about emotional regulation skills for kids here.

Benefits of Emotional Regulation

Having better emotion regulation strategies to handle your emotions has numerous benefits. Individuals who practice emotional regulation tend to cope better with life’s stressors and are more resilient. They have better-coping strategies and distress tolerance. Emotion regulation is a protective factor against depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, kids who can regulate their emotions tend to be more flexible in their thinking and have better focus, impulse control, and problem-solving skills. These benefits have a ripple effect leading to increased confidence, emotional well-being, and overall happiness.

Think of emotions as being the flavor of life and our ability to regulate them as kind of like being a Chef. Great chefs don’t avoid certain flavors; they appreciate them, understand them, and learn to work with them. Flavors can be mild or intense, just like our emotions. You don’t want the flavor to overpower your dish, so you moderate it, which creates a much better experience overall.