Unlock the Secret to Mastering Your Emotions: 5 Neuroscience-Based Techniques Revealed

From a young age, we were taught by both our caregivers and society that it’s important to manage our emotions. Reflect on your childhood moments when you threw a tantrum. Were you encouraged to express your feelings, or were you swiftly told to quiet down and behave?

In our early years, displaying strong emotions often resulted in being advised to settle down. Yet, what if we were never provided with the essential techniques to genuinely ease our own tensions

Learn 5 ways to control your emotions based on neuroscience:

1. The physiological sigh

A study conducted at Stanford University investigated the effectiveness of cyclic sighing in reducing stress and anxiety. David Spiegel, the associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, partnered with neurobiologist Dr. Andrew Huberman for this research.

The fascinating aspect of breath is its proximity to conscious control,” noted Spiegel. “Typically, breathing takes place automatically… Yet, it’s simple for us to manage our breath, influencing our body’s general function and reaction to stress.

This specific breathing method entails two inhalations followed by one extended exhalation.

To engage in the physiological sigh, begin by inhaling through your nose. Then, take another deep breath, fully expanding your lungs—think of it as a second sip to complete the breath. Afterward, exhale slowly through your mouth until all the air is expelled. While you might notice a difference after just one repetition, continuing this cyclic sighing for approximately five minutes ensures you receive its complete effects.

Huberman highlighted the importance of the second inhale, as it offers increased oxygen intake and “enables the expulsion of carbon dioxide.”

The exhale is also crucial because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate and produces a calming effect on your body.

2. Take a walk

When we feel stressed or unsettled, it’s a good practice to step outside, take in some fresh air, and soak up the sunlight.

Akana observed that as we walk, our eyes naturally scan from side to side, inducing relaxation in the body and deactivating the amygdala.When you go for a walk, try leaving your phone at home so you can completely relax and reset.

3. Acknowledge your emotions

We often spend a significant portion of our lives trying to control our emotions, often resulting in suppression. 

Instead of suppressing feelings of sadness or heightened emotions, it’s beneficial to verbally acknowledge them. Ignoring our emotions can worsen our distress. Affirming our emotions is an expression of self-compassion.

Akana recommends engaging in physical movement to release endorphins after acknowledging emotions. 

This movement doesn’t have to be complicated; it can simply involve standing up, stretching for a few minutes, or enjoying a brief dance session in your living room to shake off negative energy.

4. Peer through the window

Dealing with anger can be quite challenging. When we experience anger, our body enters into a fight, flight, or freeze response, releasing high levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In such heightened emotional states, it becomes tough to think clearly and calm down.

To alleviate anger, try gazing out of a window without focusing on anything specific. Maintaining a soft, unfocused gaze can help diminish noradrenaline levels, enabling you to pause and regain a clear mindset.

 5. Note down your strengths

Feeling insecure is a common aspect of being human, one that can diminish our confidence and self-worth. This type of low energy often leads us to question our value and feel bad about ourselves. 

One effective way to prevent this spiral from deepening is to journal about your strengths and skills. 

Akana noted that “logical thinking overrides your limbic system,” emphasizing her own practice of journaling when feeling down. Journaling is a somatic practice that allows us to express our thoughts and feelings, providing a sense of release by transferring them onto the page.

According to Akana, ‘mastering emotional regulation ranks among the most crucial abilities for adults.’

“Who showed you healthy habits for controlling your thoughts and emotions when life throws challenges your way?” Akana questioned. “Chances are, it wasn’t your parents, unless you were lucky. If so, good for you.”

 She pointed out that mastering emotional regulation is part of self-reparenting, “by allowing ourselves to practice and excel in managing our own emotional states.”

 When embarking on the journey of learning emotional regulation techniques, remember to be gentle with yourself. It’s a new skill you’re acquiring, and like any skill, emotional regulation requires time and practice. Offer yourself patience and understanding as you navigate through this process.

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