Emotional Regulation with Dr. O'Shea
And here is your Tip Sheet: drag onto your desktop or hold down on it to save to your phone as a reminder of how to respond instead of react!
Hi, I’m Dr. Lindsay O’Shea and today I’m going to teach you about the most important skill that you were never taught in school. It’s called emotional regulation and having this skill will help you be able to choose how to want to respond in any given situation rather than just impulsively reacting. When we have really big, intense feelings like we’re angry or upset or we’re really nervous about a test so we just procrastinate and totally freeze when the test time comes we feel really flooded and what that does is it makes it really hard to stay in the present moment and really hard to control how we feel.
When these big, intense feelings come up, it’s oftentimes really hard in the moment to remember that feelings are just temporary- they come and they go. We can’t control when these intense feelings come up but we can choose how we want to respond to them behaviorally and the words that we say. Eventually, you’ll want to learn what your triggers are. When these strong feelings start to come up, notice what your reaction is. How do you feel in your body right before things get super intense? Sometimes it’s really helpful in the moment just to recognize it – that you’re feeling something come up, it feels really big, and try to stay as non-judgmental as possible. It’s also really important to make space later on in the day to unpack these feelings when you’re feeling a bit more calm. Ignoring them oftentimes makes them way bigger. It’s like when someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant and then all you can think of is a pink elephant. When we try to ignore these big feelings, they tend to impulsively come out in different ways and it gets acted out upon rather than understanding where they come from so that we can really think about how we want to respond. This is completely easier said than done sometimes.
Learning this new skill is really important but it’s also really hard in the beginning. Just like a muscle, the more you work at it, the stronger this skill will become. So, here are a few tips to help you in the moment when you feel these big, intense, flooded feelings coming up and you can feel yourself reacting to something but you want to create more space so you can figure out how to respond. Something that’s really helpful is to verbally create space for yourself.
Let’s say that you’re in an argument or you’re feeling “flooded” because you have to make a big decision and you’re feeling pressured to do it right in the moment. It’s okay to say something like, “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, I’d like to come back to this decision and have more of a conversation around this when I can think things through a little bit further.” That’s completely fine – it creates more space for yourself and helps you communicate with the other person. Another thing that’s really helpful is to physically take some space. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, excuse yourself, go to the restroom or a quiet place, and do something to help you feel more grounded. Maybe it’s taking deep breaths, maybe it’s stretching, maybe it’s doing a downward dog – whatever helps you to feel more grounded in the moment. It’s also important to remember that our feelings get way more intense when we haven’t slept well and we haven’t eaten.
So, make sure that you take time out for those self-care things because it’s really going to help you feel more regulated throughout the day. Also, take a look at my tip sheet because I’ve created some really cool, easy ways to start to create more space between your reactions and responses that are pretty easy to remember. Some of them include journaling, creating a routine for yourself, playing “the color game” which is basically where you choose a color and then you see how many things in your environment you can find that are the same color. So I hope this works and let me know how it goes!