This content has been produced by DeltaV Partners.
Understanding your emotions
An emotion is a complex state or feeling that results in both physiological and psychological changes that influence thoughts and behaviours. Therefore, emotional management is critical, not only in the moment but longer-term as well.
In the moment
When managing emotions it’s important to understand what’s happening within our brains and where these emotions are being formed. Two key areas in action are the prefrontal cortex (logical) and the limbic system (emotional).
The limbic system is far more dominant than the prefrontal cortex, so when faced with a shock or emotional situation, we often act hastily without thought or lose control. It is only after a period of reflection that our prefrontal cortex steps in and calms the situation or enables us to think rationally again.
We don’t have control over this, however with thoughtful practice we can implement the following strategies that allow us to stay in control.
When in the moment we will often be led by our stress response (fight or flight) which is completely natural. As we know, there will always be a time for reflection which will come after the event. It is then that we either approach our emotions or avoid them. This is so important to our overall health and wellbeing.
Research from the University of Westminster has recognised key behaviours associated with approach and avoidance of emotions. Do any apply to you?
Use of alcohol
Understanding these characteristics is essential when considering coping mechanisms. Have you noticed any differences while working from home?
Why control emotions?
Being driven purely by emotion can sometimes pay off, however I’m sure you’ll agree that this is not a sensible strategy. It can lead to anger, regret and anxiety in the short-term, and can cause many health implications in the long run. Poor emotional management can lead to increased stress and anxiety, physical health problems, relationship breakdowns, poor sleep and in some cases, long-term illness.
Individuals who possess high levels of emotional intelligence frequently foster an environment that encourages creativity, commitment and authenticity. High performing teams often possess people with high levels of emotional intelligence.
Let’s take control
As with physical fitness, we must be aware of what we want to develop and then train to target that area. The same applies when managing emotions. We should recognise triggers and act on them accordingly.
Write a list
Consider all triggers including home, work and sport.
First of all, accept that you will become stressed from time to time. It’s only natural. Be comfortable with that.
Listen to your body
You need to be able to recognise when you are starting to feel stressed.
Some natural, early signs of stress include:
- Slightly increased heart rate
- Feeling excitable, nervous or alert
- Tension in your muscles
- Feeling short-tempered
- Having trouble concentrating.
When you begin to feel a little stressed, try to decide what emotional state you need to be in to resolve the situation.
Do you need to:
- Calm yourself down
- Get excited to motivate others
- Dig deep to find extra energy
- Be more assertive.
Prevention is always better than cure. When you begin to feel stressed and know what emotional state you need to enter, that’s the time to act and take control.
Some simple and practical ways to take control of your emotions include:
- Going somewhere private and slowly counting to ten
- Going for a short walk
- Talking a problem through with someone
- Creating an anchor – it might be pressing your forefinger and thumb together, or an affirmation such as “I’m in control of this”
- Try a breathing technique.
- Inhale through your nose for four seconds
- Pause for four seconds
- Exhale out of your mouth for four seconds
- Pause for four seconds
- Repeat for as long as you have