Although keeping some emotions and reactions private can be beneficial to ourselves and others, bottling up everything – especially raw and powerful emotions – can become a hindrance to our health, and potentially our relationships with others.
Having the tools to regulate and release emotions healthily are paramount to ensure positive relationships with our minds, and those around us.
If we suppress powerful negative emotions, we will witness these feelings build to a point of potential explosion. This can also lead to these emotions taking a physical toll on our body through tension in our muscles, stomach pain and headaches.
In the workplace this accumulation can result in shouting at colleagues, bursting into tears in public, and even suffering from panic attacks. This build-up of emotions can cause a butterfly effect of similar and increasing behaviours which ultimately affect working, familial and romantic relationships. To prevent this, we need to ensure we have the correct tools and resources to healthily deal with these feelings. Luckily, there are several ways we can regulate these emotions, and to spot the early warning signs of anger, sadness, or anxiety.
A good thing to keep an eye on is what might trigger these emotions. Keeping a physical record of what situations have brought on these feelings can help address why these circumstances trigger us. For example, if we feel anxious when we receive an email from a manager, why do we feel this way? Can we discuss this with our manager, or a friendly colleague?
Another key element of emotional regulations is taking time to focus on breathing exercises. This can be for as short as five minutes and can be done during a lunch break or before work – there are several free apps available such as Headspace or iBreathe that just require a few minutes to focus on breathing regulation and unclouding the mind.
For something a little more in depth you may want to look at Inner Calm which can be found here. See the end of this article for a discount code.
If you have the ability to, taking a walk on your lunch break or after work not only promotes exercise, but gives us time to breathe fresh air and be amongst nature. I often find a lot of small problems can be solved whilst walking with a friend or in solitude. It’s also beneficial to get yourself physically away from your workspace so as to not feel claustrophobic, and to remind ourselves work isn’t all life is about.
One thing we can’t control is other people’s emotions, but we can control how we respond to them. We can utilise our own emotional regulation tools to see if there may be a trigger to their behaviour. If there appears to be a pattern, we can predict when these expressions may occur. If appropriate, you could discuss their behaviour with a friend or colleague to attempt to get to the root of the problem. You could also share resources with them to work on their own emotional regulation – again, if appropriate.
It’s important to remember that these expressions aren’t personal, but a reflection of their own mental state. It’s advisable to not feed into their negative feelings, but instead ask what you can do in that moment to help them. Emotions are often high in the workplace, and all of us have bad days, but it’s important to look out for our colleagues and warning signs of emotional situations to prevent outbursts.
Even out of the workplace it’s important to consistently utilise these resources to improve general emotional regulation in work and at home. By regularly practising breathing, exercise, and meditation, we can reduce negative feelings that can become debilitating if not acknowledged. I would recommend starting by downloading a mindfulness app (or two!), and googling videos on meditation and breathing. Meditation is best to be tried at home, as this will often take more time, but is incredibly worth it to clear the mind and relax the body. A daily walk, short or long, will also benefit our minds greatly to distract from the monotony of life and work.
Make these small changes today, and you will swiftly reap the benefits of being compassionate to yourself, and to others.
Remember, if you want an app that does more than just meditation and mindfulness and provides you with a comprehensive assessment of your emotional health as well and all the tools you need to work on yourself try Inner Calm Here we can even offer you a code (CALM05) to try it out for one month free or an equivalent discount on a longer subscription. Try it out here.
Holly Bennett Mental Health Writer