You have probably heard people complaining that they cannot control their emotions, or maybe you have felt that yourself. It’s a frustrating experience. Some think that we shouldn’t even try to control our emotions because it’s not good for us. So where is the truth in all this? Well, as per usual, somewhere in the middle.
Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” wrote an article for Inc. on this matter. She warns about the mistake many people make, confusing emotion regulation with suppression. “Regulating your emotions is about choosing to take charge of how you feel. That doesn’t mean you should force yourself to be happy all the time – in fact, research shows forcing yourself to feel happy all the time backfires. But, it does mean you can make choices to boost your mood when you’re down or calm yourself when you’re upset”, she says.
Here are five tips she provides on how we can change our bad mood:
The more you insist on upsetting thoughts, the worse you’ll feel. Instead, try to change the channel in your brain, by distracting yourself with a pleasant activity, such as listening to your favorite music of taking a walk in the park. Studies show distraction is the most effective way to deal with intense distress. So if you’re sitting in the dentist’s office waiting to undergo a root canal, distract yourself with a magazine or text a friend about an unrelated topic. And try to find something to occupy your mind during the root canal too–distraction can be effective in reducing physical pain as well.
Changing your perspective on a situation can be key to changing how you feel. By trying to really understand the motives behind people’s actions, for instance that your overly talkative friend is just in need of emotional support, can help you stay calm and in control of the situation. Cognitive reappraisal is one of the quickest ways to shift your emotions. Research shows changing the way you think about a situation changes your body’s physiological response.
A good sense of humor has been linked to everything from improved physical health to a better social life. So keep in mind to always have a great joke on hand or hang out with a funny friend and you’ll boost your mood fast.
4. Temporal Distancing
Temporal distancing is all about looking at the bigger picture. To try this, try to think about a moment in the future – a month, a year, five years from now – and ask yourself if today’s concern will still matter then. Studies show gaining proper perspective helps you stay calm–even in tough situations.
5. Situation Modification
A change of environment, however unattainable it may seem sometimes, can have a bigger impact on your mood than you might think. Such a change can involve changing your job or moving to a new city, however, studies show it doesn’t need to be a drastic change in order to be effective. By just deciding to sit next to a positive co-worker instead of a negative one you can change your mood for the better.