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Emotional regulation is the reason why we often feel that we’re not reaching our potential. It’s also the leaver that we can map all of our successes to. Read on to find out why.
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As an ADHD coach and someone with ADHD myself, I know firsthand the struggle of managing symptoms in a neurotypical world. Many people turn to productivity tools or systems to try to manage their symptoms, but in reality, applying a new system or tool to a neurodiverse brain is like putting a Band-aid on a broken leg. There’s something bigger that needs to be managed, and that’s where emotional regulation comes in.
What is Emotional Regulation?
Emotional regulation is basically a state of being that impacts our brain, our nervous system and our behavior.
When we are emotionally regulated, we’re calm, grounded, and able to focus on things in our environment and make sense of them. We have the most access we’re ever going to have to our prefrontal cortex, where our executive function is. All those operational and administrative tasks that happen there are going to be a lot easier.
However, when we’re emotionally dysregulated, meaning we are angry, tired, irritated, scared, nervous, feeling rejected, feeling sad, feeling tired, feeling hungry, any of those things, it’s going to pull us into the limbic area of our brain, and all of a sudden our nervous system shifts into fight, flight, or freeze.
Getting Smart About Emotional Dysreguation
When we’re emotionally dysregulated, everything seems harder. We don’t think clearly because we’re emotional. We might find it really hard to plan, execute or be productive. We also struggle to remember things that happen when we’re dysregulated, because we’re not really present for our own behavior.
The hardest part about emotional dysregulation is that it’s hard to know when it’s happening because we’re so caught up in the process. However, if we can start to incorporate mindfulness practices in our life, we can slow down just enough to pause, become aware of what’s happening, and do something about it.
How to get out of a state of Emotional Dysregulation?
This is going to differ for everyone, but overall, it’s ideal to think about things that help you self-soothe, but aren’t self destructive. This can mean going for a quick walk outside instead of eating your feelings. Or putting headphones in and listening to music that really lights you up instead of impulsive online shopping.
If you want to learn more ways to regulate your emotions, head over here for more in-depth ideas.
Ready to Master the Art of Emotional Regulation?
This starts with knowing what triggers dysregulation (so you can make choices that will mitigate it happening), but also knowing what makes you feel your best. When you feel at your best, clear in thought, focused and aligned, that’s whatn your emotions are regulated.
So how do we recreate that magic so it can happen more often? Think back to a recent time when you were totally on your game. Now hone in on this bright spot, what caused you to feel like the best version of yourself?
- How did you sleep the night before?
- What did you eat leading up to this state?
- What were you thinking about?
- What were you doing? Was it engaging?
- Who were you with?
Understanding the things that help you self-regulate is the secret sauce or “recipe” for your best performance, so don’t underestimate the power of being able to reproduce that state.
Write It Down and Make It a Habit
Write down your unique recipe for showing up and start thinking about how you can add more of that into your lifestyle, not just on the days when you need it, but on every day so that you can show up as your best, have the most access to your prefrontal cortex, and reach your fricking awesome potential.
- Emotional regulation is key for people with ADHD to access executive function.
- Managing emotional regulation requires understanding your unique recipe for showing up at your best.
- The key to knowing when you’re getting emotionally dysregulated is to practice mindfulness and being aware of how you’re feeling in the present moment.
Actions to Take
- Identify one bright spot where you were emotionally regulated.
- Reverse engineer the circumstances and write down your unique recipe for showing up at your best.
- Incorporate your recipe into your lifestyle to show up as your best self and access your prefrontal cortex.