We all want things to go our way as often as possible. In an ideal world, it would happen—but in reality, life can be quite messy and unpredictable.
It’s totally normal to feel frustrated, annoyed, and impatient at times. Especially when we feel like our needs are not being met.
Consider our expectations for warmer weather as soon as spring arrives For some, this might involve anticipating feeling more energetic and spending time outdoors. For others, it may be longing for an escape from winter’s chill.
Either way, our expectations can quickly lead to feelings of frustration when the weather fails to cooperate. We can’t always control the things that happen around us, but we can certainly learn to exercise more control over how we react to them.
Self-awareness is key to managing our emotions. When we lack self-awareness, it’s easy to lose our patience and act impulsively.
This is where self-regulation can really help.
What Is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to manage our emotions and behaviours in a way that’s consistent with our goals and values. It involves being able to recognize and respond to our emotions in a healthy way.
Let’s say that you’re feeling impatient to take your yoga practice outside after a long winter, but the weather forecast is still calling for snow and frigid temperatures all week. You might take a few deep breaths to calm down and then think about what you can do to adjust your expectations. Maybe you can go for a walk in the park to get some sunlight or take a hot yoga class at a studio instead.
The goal is to find a healthy way to deal with our emotions, even when they’re unpleasant. Self-regulation is something that we can practise and improve over time. With a little effort, we can all learn to stay calm and patient in difficult situations.
10 Self-Regulation Skills to Develop
According to scientific research, there are certain skills that are most effective in improving calmness and patience.
1. Deep Breathing
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, deep breathing can help to calm and center you. It’s a simple way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for restoring balance in the body.
Tip: Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to help reset your body and mind.
2. Emotional Awareness
Being aware of your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior is key to managing them effectively. When you know what you’re feeling, you can respond more thoughtfully and calmly.
Tip: Try to take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling before reacting to a situation.
3. Perspective Taking
Putting yourself in another person’s shoes can help you to understand their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it—which can be helpful when trying to resolve conflicts or better understand someone else’s point of view.
Tip: Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in the other person’s position.
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Your muscles can tighten up when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that can help to relieve this tension by systematically tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body.
Pick a few muscle groups to focus on (like your forehead, jaw, and shoulders) and tense them for a few seconds before releasing.
Being mindful means being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings. It can help you to better understand and manage your emotions, and can also be helpful in reducing stress.
Tip: Try to focus on your breathing and the sensations you feel in your body. Notice the thoughts that come and go without judgment.
Visualization involves using your imagination to create a mental image of something you want to achieve or experience. It can be helpful in increasing motivation and confidence, and can also be used to calm and relax the mind and body.
Tip: Picture yourself in a calm and relaxing setting—like a beach or a forest—and focus on the peaceful sensations you feel.
7. Goal Setting
When you have specific goals in mind, it can help to give you a sense of purpose and provide motivation during times of frustration or stress. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable, and that they reflect your values and interests.
Tip: Think about the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, and break the goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Being kind and understanding towards yourself, even when you make mistakes, is key to managing stress and anxiety. Accepting your feelings and forgiving yourself can help to reduce negative emotions.
Tip: Challenge any self-critical thoughts you may have and replace them with compassionate ones.
9. Positive Thinking
Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to improve mood and outlook. Positive thinking can be helpful in managing stress and frustration, and can also promote feelings of happiness and contentment.
Tip: Think about what you’re grateful for, and make a habit of looking for the good in every situation.
Having a good sense of humour can help to diffuse tension and make difficult situations more manageable. You can still be mature and sensitive while using humour to lighten the mood.
Tip: When you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, try to find something to laugh about.
Self-Regulation Is Self-Care
Knowing how to self-regulate in stressful situations is essential to taking good care of yourself. Pick on one or two of these skills to use whenever you need to regain your sense of calm and patience.
Do you have any other techniques that help you to manage your emotions? Share them in the comments below! & check out our post about