Emotions are powerful. Your mood determines how you interact with people, how much money you spend, how you deal with challenges, and how you spend your time.
Gaining control over your emotions will help you become mentally stronger. Fortunately, anyone can become better at regulating their emotions. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication.
Experience Uncomfortable Emotions But Don’t Stay Stuck in Them
Managing your emotions isn’t the same as suppressing them. Ignoring your sadness or pretending you don’t feel pain won’t make those emotions go away.
In fact, unaddressed emotional wounds are likely to get worse over time. And there’s a good chance suppressing your feelings will cause you to turn to unhealthy coping skills—like food or alcohol.
Acknowledge your feelings while also recognizing that your emotions don’t have to control you. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you can take control of your mood and turn your day around. If you are angry, you can choose to calm yourself down.
Here are three ways to regulate your emotions in a healthy way:
1. Label Your Emotions
Before you can change how you feel, label the emotion you’re experiencing right now. Are you nervous? Do you feel disappointed? Are you sad?
Put a name your emotions. Keep in mind you might feel a whole bunch of emotions at once—like anxious, frustrated, and impatient.
Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the sting out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.
2. Reframe Your Thoughts
Your emotions affect the way you perceive events. If you’re feeling anxious and you get an email from the boss that says she wants to see you right away, you might assume you’re going to get fired.
If you were feeling happy when you got that same email, your first thought might have been that you’re going to be promoted or congratulated on a job well done.
Consider the emotional filter you’re looking at the world through. Then, reframe your thoughts to develop a more realistic view.
If you catch yourself thinking, “This party is going to be so boring,” remind yourself, “It’s up to me to have fun. I can talk to people about interesting subjects and make the best of my time.”
Sometimes, the easiest way to gain a different perspective is to take a step back and ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Answering that question will take some of the emotion out of the equation so you can think more rationally.
If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, you may need to change the channel in your brain. A quick physical activity, like going for a walk or cleaning off your desk, can help you stop ruminating.
3. Engage in a Mood Booster
When you’re in a bad mood, you’re likely to engage in activities that keep you in that state of mind. Isolating yourself, mindlessly scrolling through your phone, or complaining to people around you are just a few of the typical “go-to bad mood behaviors” you might indulge in.
But, those things will keep you stuck. You have to take positive action if you want to feel better.
Think of the things you do when you feel happy. Do those things when you’re in a bad mood and you’ll start to feel better.
Here are a few examples of mood boosters:
- Call a friend to talk about something pleasant (not to continue complaining).
- Go for a walk.
- Meditate for a few minutes.
- Listen to uplifting music.
Keep Practicing Your Emotional Regulation Skills
Managing your emotions is tough at times. And there will likely be a specific emotion—like anger—that sometimes gets the best of you.
But the more time and attention you spend on regulating your emotions, the mentally stronger you’ll become. You’ll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make healthy choices that shift your mood.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.