Emotional Stress: How to Regulate Your Emotions During Times of Stress

By Dr. Ryan C. Warner

How to Regulate Your Emotions During Times of Stress (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Improving your ability to manage emotional stress can radically transform your life. Everyone experiences emotional stress, no matter their condition. And no matter what you do, there will always be something that gets in the way or causes some kind of aggravation. People also have a tendency to get comfortable with where they are in life. When something happens to disrupt that comfort zone, it often leads to distress.

These reactions are normal, and everyone will experience them at some point in their lives. Most of us can handle most of these problems most of the time. However, when things get hard, it can make you feel like things are spinning out of control, and your stress can feel unmanageable. It can be tempting to yell, slam the door, and stomp around the house. But there’s a better way. You can express your feelings in ways that elevate your emotions and leave you feeling more satisfied.

Keep reading to learn more about what stress is and how you can make your life easier. There are solutions.

Symptoms of Emotional Stress

When you feel tension, get headaches, experience insomnia, or have an emotional outburst, you may be experiencing symptoms of stress. There are also many symptoms in addition to these, so before we continue, take a moment and reflect on how stress manifests in your life.

Anger management issues are one of the most common warning signs that you have unmanaged emotional stress. You probably have unique coping mechanisms to help you deal with difficult emotions.

If you are more extroverted, for example, emotional stress can lead to loud outbursts like shouting or crying. You may even be tempted to throw things. If you’re more introverted, you may handle your feelings by turning inward. You might get quiet, grind your teeth, feel hopeless, or experience a lack of motivation.

Most people have a blend of extroverted and introverted responses. Learning how you cope with stress is the first step to making positive changes.

Some ways that we can regulate our emotions and better manage stress may be achieved through reappraisal, acceptance, and self-compassion. People who spend a few minutes every day practicing self-compassion exercises experience less negative stress in their lives. If you give it a try, you will probably see some immediate results, and over time you may even experience radical transformations.

Taking an active approach will help you obtain more control over your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.

How to Manage Stress

Self-compassion and accepting who you are can increase your resilience to the effects of stress on the body. It’s tempting to think that you cannot change how you react, especially if you’ve had the same responses your entire life. There are reasons for hope, however. You can improve your self-compassion and acceptance by following a few steps that are simple to learn and easy to practice.

Meditation is one of my favorite stress reduction techniques. You probably already have some experience with meditation, even if you don’t realize it. When you sit quietly and think, this is a form of meditation. You can expand on this kind of behavior and turn it into a larger and more intentional practice.

One of the most powerful ways to reduce stress is by building and maintaining healthy relationships with your family, friends, and loved ones. You can turn to many people in your life to help you learn and grow. Spiritual leaders, family members, and mental health professionals can all be a part of your growth and healing process. Getting sunshine and exercise also helps.

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Some coping mechanisms are healthy, as you probably know, while others can make things worse. For example, many people vent their anger to find relief, which is neither healthy nor helpful. In many cases, it can actually make you feel more stressed out. When you embody and express negative feelings through venting, sometimes you actually deepen your connection to those bad feelings.

Finding healthy forms of expressing your stress can help you reduce your overall stress load and make you feel better at the same time. Adopting healthier forms of expression can even help you find solutions to the underlying problems.

Build Resilience to Emotional Stress With Distress Tolerance

Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to develop better stress management strategies. A vigorous workout releases endorphins and lowers the levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hiking, biking, and outdoor sports are fun activities that can make a world of difference. I like to pair strength training and cardio exercises when I need to relieve stress, but what matters most is that you are fully engaged. What kinds of exercise do you enjoy most?

How to Deal with Negative Emotions — Distress Tolerance

You can increase your emotional strength and have more self-control when you take a proactive approach toward addressing your feelings. Taking a regular emotional inventory of yourself can help you spot problems when they are small and easier to manage. If you practice this over time, you will find yourself getting stronger. Little things won’t bother you as much, and you may find the number of big stressors in your life getting smaller.

Many people have discovered that a proactive approach can radically change their lives. Being proactive helps you do better at your job. You enjoy your hobbies more and can even see improvements in your interpersonal relationships. Additionally, working on skills like meditation and self-compassion can help you right now and build healthy habits that will help you for years to come. These skills can help restore your sense of inner peace.

I recommend you explore these ideas and select one that you like and can do right now. Focus on it for a month so that it becomes a new habit. You might be surprised at how much better you will feel, and how much more stress resilience you can build.

*This post may contain affiliate links to the products and services that we talk about.

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