Emotional regulation is the ability to re-regulate your nervous system when it is in a state of fight, flight, freeze or fawn.
These stress responses are responsible for keeping us safe, however if not re-regulated it can affect many areas of our lives. For instance if someone is in a fawn response their default in a conflict is to people please, while it’s a smart tactic in this state we abandon ourselves ( this can include our boundaries, needs and so on).
Emotional regulation will look different depending on which stress response is activated. Thus, use the sample below for some tips and tricks to re-regulate based on which stress response was activated:
Fight: In this state we are irritable and it can be difficult to self-soothe. Thus, when in this state it’s best to leave a situation to re-regulate. This can be going for a walk, taking some deep breaths or journaling as this would slow down your thinking to help you think clearer and calmer.
strong>Flight: In this state it’s when we are overwhelmed and we want to flee or run away from a stressful situation. A great practice for this stress response is to observe. Observation is a mindfulness practice; it can help us recognize our experience without judgment so one can move through it. In addition, journaling also can be a great tool to help validate your experience and to recognize the triggers which were present.
Freeze: Freeze is a state when one becomes immobilized it can feel like it’s too much or too overwhelming to push through, thus the nervous system shuts down to help you cope. In this state it’s best move; this can be moving from side to side, squeezing and releasing areas of your body or going for a walk. Once the nervous system re-regulates you can think about the trigger and get curious. Curiosity is when you are able to work through it.
Fawn: In this state the individual attempts to please people to keep peace in a situation. For this exercise it’s all about setting boundaries in the future. A great way to do this is to consider emotional, physical and spiritual boundaries to identify what you are comfortable with. When you are clear on your boundaries it will be easier to set them if a breach occurs.
Emotional regulation is key to your wellbeing; if your stress response is regulated you will be able to tackle and handle stressful situations with ease (this is often referred to as growing your window of tolerance).