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Self-Regulation Strategies

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Self-Regulation Strategies
by Nicholas Moloney - Wednesday, 24 June 2020, 3:19 PM

Last week I wrote about what we had learnt from the recent COVID-19 experience and how people with developed self-regulation skills appeared to cope better. This week I share some strategies I have read over the years on how to build on the current skills we have in the area of self-regulation.

  • Deep breathing with an exaggerated exhale tells the brain that you are safe and can calm down.
  • Exercise – even a little does a lot for calming the nervous system.
  • Take a walk or stretch.
  • Music can change a mood from negative to positive. Have some feel good tunes ready for use!
  • Thinking about a person you love or a happy memory and holding that in your mind for at least 20 seconds.
  • Identify what you are feeling –“name it to tame it. ”Feelings are never wrong, they are important information that your body is giving you.
  • Try a short meditation just focusing on your breath or maybe a phrase that helps you feel more centred.
The following eight strategies come from an article by Satya Kline titled, ‘The Integrated Home Visitor: Strategies to Promote Whole Brain Integration and Resilience’

1. Leading with Integrity: People who live and work with integrity are often successful because others respect them. To behave with integrity, identify your values. These are the things that you will not compromise on, even if they put you at a disadvantage. Then, start living these values every day. Admit your mistakes, take responsibility for your actions, and listen to your inner voice.

2. Being Open to Change: People who self-regulate cope well with change and adapt their behaviour to different situations easily. Importantly, they think about change positively, and see it as an exciting opportunity for self-development

3. Identifying Your Triggers: An important part of being self-regulated is self-awareness, particularly when it comes to knowing what your weaknesses are, and how other people's behaviour can affect you negatively. Identify your triggers by making a list of all the times when you have given in to your negative impulses. When you have identified emotions and reactions that aren't useful, replace them with more positive behaviours.

4. Practicing Self-Discipline: Develop self-regulation by working on persistence and self-discipline. These are traits that keep you working hard, even when you are not "in the mood" and your goals seem out of reach.
5. Reframing Negative Thoughts: If you experience a negative event or obstacle, tune in to your negative thoughts. Ask yourself whether they are reasonable and stand up to fair scrutiny. By rationally assessing the facts, you can undo the damage that negative thinking may have done. For instance, saying to yourself, "I can do this, I've done it before" is much more motivating than, "I can't do this, I'm hopeless!"
6. Keeping Calm Under Pressure: Self-regulation is about remaining calm in the face of adversity and keeping your cool. If you are in a situation where you're losing control of your emotions, try to remove yourself for a few moments – either physically or mentally. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing can help you to calm down – it interrupts any negative thoughts and puts you back on a more positive path. Breathe in slowly for five seconds, then breathe out for five. Focus on your breathing, and nothing else. Do this at least five times.
7. Considering the Consequences: If you find yourself in a difficult situation, or if you are trying to control your impulses, think before you act and consider the consequences. Remembering what happened when you reacted badly in the past can remind you why it's important to be self-regulated.
8. Believing in Yourself:  Another important element of self-regulation is self-efficacy. This is your belief in your ability to achieve your goals. To develop this, work on your self-confidence. Focus on the experiences in your life where you were successful, to put your mistakes and setbacks into perspective. Choose to believe in yourself and surround yourself with other positive and confident people. The more you see the success of others whose skills and abilities are similar to yours, the more likely you are to believe that you can also achieve that success.