Managing Emotions in Resilient times

Imagine you are traveling to work. On the way, you are rehearsing this pitch that you have to present to a potential client. You have left well before your usual time, taking into consideration the traffic and the fact that you would want to reach the office before the client for a last-minute run through. As you are traveling, you notice that there is more traffic than usual because of an accident a few kilometers away. You realize that you are not going to make it in time and try to inform your colleagues. However, you keep trying but are not able to connect with them. With great difficulty, you reach the office 45- mins late. You see the client is already there and is interacting with a few of your colleagues. How do you feel? Do you feel your heart rate increasing, sweating, anxious?

What you do next is your fight-or-flight response, our body’s automatic response to a threatening/crisis situation. In such situations, we have a choice to either take or avoid the bait of our raw emotional reactions that make us want to react. In other words, we have the choice to control our anxiety and stress so that it does not overwhelm us and focus on the situation at hand.

The extent to which we are able to control our emotions and remain calm in the face of stressful situations is Emotional Regulation. Measured by the Resilience Questionnaire ™, this interpersonal strategy allows one to think clearly when facing challenges. Regulating emotions is resilience ‘in the moment’. It is having emotional agility, where one mindfully engages and manages with their emotions rather than ignores them.

Those who are able to regulate their emotions in such a way that it does not negatively interfere with their performance and decision-making are:

  • Focused on the main objective even under pressure
  • Composed in difficult or unexpected problems
  • Calm and in control in difficult situations
  • Able to react appropriately/objectively to high-pressure situations
  • Rational and make effective decisions under pressure

To regulate emotions during stressful circumstances:

  • Identify and reframe self from negative and irrational thoughts
  • Take full, deeper breaths to have normal oxygen levels and avoid breathlessness (which is natural physiological change experienced)
  • Use positive imagery to increase confidence to deal with such situations
  • Exercise regularly. It releases endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitter

It is important to understand the difference between emotion regulation and emotion suppression. One needs to learn how to express emotions in a healthy and constructive manner rather than ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts.

How you react emotionally is a choice in any situation.

-Judith Orloff

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