We continue a series on how to effectively manage emotions, so that we can engage more thoughtfully in relationship. All of the skills we discuss are designed to support the ultimate goal of wisdom (see post titled, “Emotion Regulation 1.0”).
For several posts, we looked at various mindfulness (awareness) skills; next we covered several distress tolerance (crisis management/survival) skills; then we looked at a few interpersonal effectiveness (assertiveness) skills. Today we’ll begin covering four emotion regulations skills, starting with how to reduce vulnerability.
Reducing vulnerability means that we take charge of what we can control so as to invite as little harm as possible. Of course, we can’t control many things, and that’s why we have to learn how to respond effectively to painful things beyond our control. But making sure we control what is within our power can diminish the risk of falling prey to those things that can enter when a door is ajar that we neglected to shut.
Let’s use another cheesy acronym: PLEASE. (Warning: this one’s the cheesiest yet!)
PL – Physical Illness…tend to it responsibly. Don’t neglect going to the doctor if it would be responsible to go. Some people go too often; some not enough. Be reasonable, and treat your body like the machine that it is. It’ll serve you well if you treat it with proper care. Take your prescriptions and supplements. Use an electric toothbrush and go to the dentist. Get a flu shot. Whatever will reduce your susceptibility to illness, do it.
E – Eat balanced meals. Not everyone eats the same. Some people do well on one large meal per day. Others graze throughout. The important thing to remember is to eat only when you’re hungry (when your body give you a real hunger signal, such as when your belly grumbles), and only until you’re satisfied, not full. Also remember that, although there are no righteous and unrighteous foods, the foods your body will utilize best are on the outside edges of the grocery store, not in the aisles.
A – Avoid mood altering drugs and alcohol. Moods, emotions, and feelings are all signals from your body that you need to be aware of and pay attention to, or you will be missing important information you’re body’s trying to communicate to you. Your emotions are part of being human, and if you dull them, you reduce your ability to identify those things that need your attention, which opens the door to more of the unwanted things that your body is trying to get you to attend to. Kicking the can down the road by dulling your body’s natural signals only steals peace from your future.
S – Sleep. Get an adequate amount. Plan for it. Protect it. There are few things your body needs more from you than that you make sure you’re well rested. This protects you from all manner of illnesses, emotional dysregulation, physical ailments, etc. Guard your rest religiously.
E – Exercise. A preponderance of research shows that there is nothing better you can do for you mood regulation than getting regular, adequate exercise. A good rule of thumb is 30 minutes, five times per week of aerobic exercise. As we get older, it also becomes more important to be sure to include weight training, as well. Find a kind of exercise you enjoy enough to sustain it. Not everyone loves to exercise, but the endorphins released from vigorous movement can motivate you to keep coming back. Your sense of well-being will love you for it.
7.5 Billion Healthy, Happy People
You’re worth taking good care of, and you have no higher responsibility. Imagine what a good mood the world would be in if everyone took charge of their own health and well-being. A world of 7.5 billion happy people would be pretty cool.