It is simple to picture the busy scenario in Mumbai’s crowded streets, where people are racing to keep up with their fast-paced lives. Amidst this chaos, Rekha Sharma, 42, a working mother of two, prepares her children for school while getting ready for her work. Arav, her younger son, would not’ stop playing video games despite Sharma’s repeated requests for him to get dressed.
Eventually, her patience wears thin, and she feels the accustomed wave of annoyance swelling inside her. However, Sharma uses a self-control technique rather than giving in to the need to chastise her child. “If you get ready on time, then I will spend some extra playtime with you in the evening,” she says to her son. Junior Sharma initially objects but soon agrees as she motivates him to take charge of the morning routine and praises him for doing each task.
Sharma’s ability to control her emotions ultimately helps her manage them and creates a great mood throughout the day. “Self-regulation helps me manage my emotions and responses in a constructive way, making me a better parent, employee, and person in general,” she says.
Her story serves as an example of how self-regulation can help individuals take control of their emotions and responses, making them better equipped to handle challenges and achieve their goals.
Developing the skill early on
Dr Seena M Mathai, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala, says that self-regulation is a collection of abilities that aid people in becoming more introspective, self-reliant, and self-aware. “These abilities are necessary for success in many facets of life and can be learnt and developed through time,” she adds.
A 2018 research done by Dr Sara Sahranavard, assistant professor at the Birjand University of Medical Sciences, Iran, and her team, highlights the importance of teaching self-regulation skills to students to improve their academic achievement and performance.
According to Mathai, self-regulation develops over the course of a person’s life, beginning in childhood with parental supervision and the gradual formation of cognitive control. As people learn to manage brand-new issues and responsibilities during adolescence, the development of self-regulation is essential. While adulthood offers chances for further development of self-regulation skills, it can also bring new challenges that necessitate adaptability and flexibility.
The many benefits
Mathai outlines several benefits of adopting self-regulation skills in one’s life:
- Increased productivity and efficiency by staying on task and avoiding distractions.
- Better management of emotions and stress responses to lessen their negative effect on well-being.
- Improved communication, conflict resolution, and relationship-building by controlling emotions and behaviour.
- Better ability to recover from setbacks, face challenges, and adapt to new circumstances.
- Enhanced self-management and personal effectiveness.
- Increased capacity to achieve goals, maintain well-being, and succeed in daily activities.
Strategies for emotional self-control and well-being
According to Aditi Tulshyan, certified trauma therapist and a marriage and family counsellor at XpressIt Mental Health Services in Delhi, if one wants to improve one’s self-regulation abilities, one should consider setting practical goals, practising mindfulness and self-reflection, dividing bigger goals into smaller, achievable tasks, seeking support from reliable people, and consulting professionals when necessary.
Tulshyan recommends the following practices for enhancing emotional self-control:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices increase self-awareness and help us regulate our internal experiences effectively. It allows us to manage our thoughts and emotions and take appropriate action.
A 2012 research done by Dr Malte Friese and team, indicates mindfulness meditation improves emotional regulation and aspects of attention regulation, which is a crucial aspect of self-control processes.
Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for the body’s self-regulation processes to maintain physical and mental health. Despite this need, individuals often engage in stimulating activities when fatigued. Prioritising relaxation and sleep can improve energy, mood, and cognitive performance.
Exercising regularly: Enjoyable physical activity can enhance self-regulation and provide various physical and mental health benefits. Exercise does not necessarily require gym membership or strenuous workouts. Engaging in activities such as dancing, walking, or running can improve physical well-being.
Self-reflection: It involves carving out dedicated time to analyse one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours to identify patterns and develop effective strategies for self-regulation. This practice can be an effective tool in cultivating self-awareness and enhancing overall self-regulation.
Having an important support system: Surrounding oneself with individuals who provide positive reinforcement and are supportive of personal goals can foster a sense of connection and enhance personal growth.