What?!?! There is a blessing inside the storm that is stress?
Yes, I hate to be the messenger of bad news…actually I don’t 😉 but , yes, adversity can change us for the better if we let it (I always say to my teenage kid, Jack…and he has listened!).
So, since that is my stance, there is a “silver lining”, let’s focus on building our emotion regulation skills which will have a beautiful side effect of lowering our stress levels.
Now, wouldn’t that be awesome?!?
Last Week, I talked about the benefits of emotion regulation in my post, Emotion Regulation: Why it Contributes to Academic Success. This week I want to expand on that notion and start sharing strategies that can help.
Here is an infographic that gives some great advice:
I know what you are probably thinking, “yeah, great advice, but what if I can not even get myself to do any of those things?”. I know, most people don’t “feel” like doing anything; however, if you have a idea of “how” to get moving, and that there is a tangible benefit (light at the end of the tunnel), you can kick your own butt and at least get started. Really, between you and me, I rarely feel like doing anything; but I have definitely learned to like the positive outcomes from my effort. Think big picture, think “where will this get me?”, and get moving toward your goals. Today’s goal is to find ways to lower stress so that you can enjoy your life more.
Get Started PsychNerd Style
Did you know that you can do things BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an event to help regulate your emotional state? Yeah! According to Dr. Gross who developed the Process Model of Emotion Regulation (Gross, 1998) employing strategies before, during and after and event can significantly effect your emotional state.
Things You Can Do Before (Anticipation):
- You can decide to participate in events that are good for you.
- You can choose the amount of time you will spend at an event ahead of time.
- You can plan the best way for you to get yourself there.
- You can learn more about what you are getting yourself into.
Things You Can Do During (Change the Experience):
- You can choose to be fully present (Mindfulness) in that moment. Not focused on the past or the future, but focus on what is happening now.
- You can choose to focus on the positive aspects of the situation.
Things You Can Do After (Reminisce about the Experience):
- You can look at photos of the event and remember the fun that you had (delete the ones that are less happy).
- When you describe your experience to others, choose to share the mostly the positive aspects of your experience.
- You can focus on gratitude, noticing how lucky you are to have the opportunity to experience great things in your life.
In the BEFORE, DURING and AFTER experience you also have the opporunity to use the following skills in all 3 categories (mentioned in last weeks blog post):
- You can SELECT the situation that you are participating in.
- You can MODIFY the situation once you are in it.
- You can focus your ATTENTION on the positive or negative (I recommend a lean to the positive).
- You can choose/change your THOUGHTS about the situation.
- You can choose how you RESPOND to the situation.
Check out this great example!
(Quoidbach et al. , 2015)
Ok, now that you know that you have options, let’s get working!
Try This Today: Build Your Character Strength
One way of bolstering your emotion regulation capacity is to start with identifying your top strengths and find a new way to use one of these strengths in a different manner every day (Seligman et al., 2005).
Curious about your strengths? Take this Brief Strengths Test Today!
(you will find the Brief Strengths Test under the Questionnaires dropdown menu)
More Stress Management Strategies?
Check out some of my previous blog posts:
It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. Start working on your reaction to stressful situations by practicing emotion regulation strategies.
Each week I will be blogging about a new Emotion Regulation Strategy.
Mindset, Emotion Regulation and Living Your Best Life
Another instalment in the Emotion Regulation = Academic Success Series.
Ok, I am going to be a bit of a butt kicker today. Probably because I have spent my entire week repetitively kicking my own but; trying to keep the motivation alive and moving. Sometimes we just need to clear out the mental clutter and create a mindset that works for us. Really, who doesn’t feel awesome when they are effective and taking control of their lives? We have to seize the moment that passion meets motivation and get going. Today, I would like to talk a little more about a strategy that can give your mindset a little nudge in the right direction.
Here are the ground rules, for today, to get you in the best state of mind:
I know! Totally not what counsellors generally say, but today we are honing in on our ideal mindset for getting stuff done. Have you ever noticed when you choose to describe a situation in only positive terms that it makes you feel better about the event or, even sometimes, the person that you are talking about? Let’s do it, let’s learn how to create a beneficial mindset today 🙂
Let’s start with a Video Snack to set the stage.
This one’s for you Kelsey C! …because you said you love the TedTalks 🙂
The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin
Amy’s article, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” introduced the world to the bad habits that can keep us from being mentally strong. Her article was reprinted and shared millions of times as it became a viral sensation. Within a few days, her list was republished on Forbes.com, where it became one of their most read articles of all time with 10 million views. Check out her TEDx Talk…simply fantastic!
Nerdy, Nerdy PsychNerdy Time!
Sometimes it is hard to get out of thinking traps and focus on the things that make us mentally stronger. Yes, building a new habit is hard, but really, are you not tired of feeling crappy about yourself and your life at times? I know that I have to work hard to get out of those traps sometimes, so I challenge you to find a new approach, develop a new mindset and create a life that even you are envious of 🙂
Here is a place to start…
Researchers, Burton & King (2004), ran an experiment that was looking at enhancing positive mood and health. Check out their journal article, The health benefits of writing about positive experiences: the role of broadened cognition, for more information. The theory that informed this experiment’s design was The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive emotions (for the really PsychNerdy ones, see below for a link).
What they did:
- They took 90 post-secondary students and split them into 2 groups: experimental (intervention) and control (no intervention)
- For 3 days, both groups were asked to come to the lab and write for 20 minutes. They took a survey about their mood before and after writing.
- The control group was asked to write, in detail, about their plans for the day, their shoes and a description of their bedroom.
- The experimental group was asked to write about Intensely Positive Experiences (IPEs). See the directions below.
What they found:
Three months later…
- Writing about IPEs was associated with enhanced positive mood.
- Writing about IPEs was also associated with significantly fewer health center visits for illness, compared to those in the control group.
- Writing about your day, your shoes or your bedroom has no significant effect on enhancing your health and positive outlook (you probably guessed that!).
Do you want to write about your shoes or would you like to change your Mindset?
I thought you might say that 🙂
Writing About Intensely Positive Experiences
Here are the directions from the researchers, Burton & King (2009), to get you started:
“Think of the most wonderful experience or experiences in your life, happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture, perhaps from being in love, or from listening to music, or suddenly ‘‘being hit’’ by a book or painting or from some great creative moment. Choose one such experience or moment. Try to imagine yourself at that moment, including all the feelings and emotions associated with the experience. Now write about the experience in as much detail as possible trying to include the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that were present at the time. Please try your best to re-experience the emotions involved”.
Check this out:
Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions by Barbara L. Fredrickson or even check out Wikipedia for a better idea of this theory. Pretty cool stuff!
I am thrilled and grateful for all the wonderful comments that I have been receiving from readers. Thank you so much for your feedback and support!
Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.
Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through
Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2, 271-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1089- 2618.104.22.1681
Quoidbach, J. Mikolajczak, M, and Gross, J. (2015). Positive interventions: An emotion regulation perspective. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 141(3), May 2015, 655-693.