One of the nine proposed points to protect mental health during quarantine in the first installment of the campaign #EnCasaconSalud of Facebook, Instagram, INECO Foundation, Infobae and UNICEF It’s of connect with loved ones, call them and interact with those who live with them. It is an action that helps to feel accompanied and to better regulate emotions. Emotional regulation encompasses all the processes by which we influence the emotions we have, when we have them, and how they are experienced and expressed.
In dialogue with Infobae, the doctor Fernando Torrente, Bachelor of Psychology at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), academic doctorate in Medicine at the Favaloro University and director of the Department of Cognitive Psychotherapy at INECO explained: “The context of the pandemic poses a serious challenge to our ability to regulate emotions. We are at times more anxious and down. We are exposed to a sustained and uncertain danger to our health and to our loved ones. We must exercise strong self-control to maintain security measures: stay at home, wash our hands, maintain social distance, among others. “
According to the expert, “That effort can make us tense and exhaust us. At the same time, we are deprived of many things that do us good, such as friends, outings, sports, hobbies and many others. That deprivation can harm our spirits. In summary, our unpleasant emotions can be increased in frequency and intensity, and the pleasant ones can be decreased ”.
“Thus, we must put into practice and develop more than ever our resources to regulate emotions. In order to do this there are some things that it may be important to know. First of all, we have to know that against the myth that emotions are ungovernable, research shows that there are different strategies to regulate our emotions that people naturally display. Second, it is clear that some people have a greater ability to regulate emotions, but we can all do it. Lastly, our ability to regulate emotions can be improved. ”
Recommendations that, according to studies in emotion psychology and neuroscience, help to regulate emotions better:
-It is necessary to recognize and accept emotions, even if they are annoying. Among the strategies that we usually use there are some that usually have bad results. These are suppression and avoidance: Suppression means trying to hide our emotions and avoidance involves avoiding situations that promote our emotions. These two ways of dealing with them generate negative effects and prolong negative responses in the long term. On the contrary, recognizing and accepting that we are feeling a certain emotion, even if it is unpleasant, is usually the first step to effective regulation. In contexts like today, where fears and concerns are universal and inevitable, it is important to recognize when we are feeling bad.
-It is convenient to name accurately and talk about emotions. Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, an expert in the scientific study of emotions, suggests that Those people who are older manage to recognize in more detail and to name more specifically the emotions they experience are more efficient in regulating them.. This also allows us to better communicate them to others.
-Contextualize them. Current scientific conceptions of emotion teach us that emotions are valuable resources for dealing with our circumstances and even unpleasant emotions have an advantageous function. Thus, it is beneficial to try to understand and contextualize emotions. It is about understanding that they have a reason, they are the answer to situations that have relevance and importance for us as people. Therefore, instead of suppressing or avoiding them, we should try to understand what their meaning is, what message they are giving us within the context in which we are. For example, fear signals danger and sadness may be telling us that our attempts to solve a problem are not working or that we need to ask for help.
-Also, research in emotion neuroscience shows that in some cases it is useful to redefine and reevaluate emotions. This is called cognitive regulation and it means changing the way we think to change how we feel. Many times emotions are accompanied by ideas or thoughts that can magnify our negative emotions. So catastrophic or unrealistic ideas can raise fears in a way that is disadvantageous to us. In those cases, reviewing those thoughts and looking for alternative interpretations can help us gauge our emotional response.
-Finally, research also shows that the use of meditation and relaxation techniques are good tools to support the regulation of emotions. In particular, meditation called mindfulness is associated with different beneficial effects. Neuroscientific studies show that areas of the prefrontal cortex, associated with emotions and social functions, are intensely stimulated with meditation, while areas of the brain typically associated with the processing of negative emotions, such as the amygdala, decrease their activity. during your sustained practice.
What can I do if I frequently participate in family conflicts?
According Fernanda Giralt Font, graduated in Psychology and director of the Department of INECO Bienestar, “family relationships are not always easy. Conflict is part of life and sometimes unavoidable. Conflicts are not negative or positive in themselves, but the ways we face them, are those that can harm or benefit our relationship with others. So in the face of a disagreement situation, one can take different positions. If it is not something really significant that causes the discomfort, we can choose to avoid that discussion. ”
“But if it is something that is really affecting us, the most constructive way to face a conflict, may be to listen actively, carefully, without becoming defensive, the position of the other, trying to empathize to understand his point of view and explaining at the same time clearly and without aggression, his own point of view. If the two parties to the conflict manage to move from each other’s position to delve into the interests and needs of both, to seek together a solution that addresses the needs of the two parties, this may be the most collaborative way of solving a conflict ”, he added.
According to what the specialist stated, “sIf discussions and fights are frequent and a hostile climate of conflict ‘escalation’ is easily or quickly generated, where anger predominates, it will be necessary to distance oneself and do what is called ‘time out’, which means run from that same place where the discussion is taking place, to make a stop, take distance, to be able to stop thinking and seek to distract the mind, until we can regulate emotion and find the words that allow us to resume the conversation in another way ”
“The bodily sensations (tachycardia, muscle tension, flushing, anxiety, upset stomach or throat) are what first warn us that anger is taking place. Those physical sensations can be good allies to know that this is the moment to take distance. Once the emotional intensity has subsided, trying to communicate without attacking and expressing the message by talking about our feelings instead of blaming the other person, can help you to listen more actively instead of feeling attacked.“He explained.
Another point named by the graduate in psychology to take into account is that this may not be the time to try to resolve historical conflicts, and all together, but to maintain a coexistence as harmonious as possible. That is why the use of kindness, respect, patience and tolerance can be excellent allies for coexistence in this period.
Facebook, Instagram, the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO), Infobae and UNICEF joined forces to promote the emotional health of people during this period of social isolation that affects millions of Argentines.
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