The Benefits of Equanimity

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

In last week's post, I shared about the concept of emotional regulation. Regulating your emotions and keeping tabs on your ability to do so is an important part of your mental health strategy and self-care, not to mention your overall physical health. 

Now, don't get me wrong. Expressing emotions is very healthy, whether those feelings are so-called "positive" or "negative" in nature. The expression of anger can be very good for your well-being, especially when that anger is justified. But when those emotions rule us, ruin our day, or otherwise have power over us, it's time for action in the interest of our greater well-being. 

Equanimity's Power

The power of emotional equanimity is the ability to self-regulate, know when it's time to get mad, when it's appropriate to be sad, or when you need a good cry. With an intact ego and emotions that are well-managed and under our control, we can be more productive, have healthier relationships, and communicate more effectively. 

Like I said in my previous post, it's always our choice how we react in response to what others say or do, or to circumstances in our lives. While we may have a natural human urge towards attack, blame, or defensiveness, we can learn ways to short-circuit our knee-jerk emotional reactions and come up with new ways of dealing with conflict or bad feelings. 

Keeping our stress at a relatively stable level can be a challenge, but being able to maintain our equanimity and not overreact can help us to navigate our relationships in a more manageable way, all while helping us to see our circumstances with more perspective. 

Meanwhile, lower stress levels and lower emotional reactivity keeps our blood sugars lower and fewer stress chemicals circulating in our bloodstream, wreaking havoc, and causing unnecessary inflammation and physiological harm. 

Dialing It Down

Like I said, anger and other emotions all have their place, and their expression can be healthy. But if there's a person in your life who is angry, upset, or otherwise unhappy most of the time, how is that person's health? How is their quality of life? Do you think that their level of stress and anger impacts their well-being? 

Such people are like traffic signs to us; they people remind us that we have the choice to "dial it down" and move towards the center, towards emotional equanimity. "Dialing it down" doesn't mean turning off the emotions or burying them in our psyche. It means striving for the center, a place where we can lower our reactivity and increase our ability to respond without overreacting. 

Emotional regulation can do wonders for your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Think about your own level of emotional regulation, and consider the strategies or tools that can assist you in moving towards your own healthy center.