Diabetes Blogs

Emotional Regulation, Relationships and Your Health

Interpersonal relationships can have a positive or negative impact on your mental and physical health. Thus, a great deal can be said for the power of emotional regulation to help you to keep your head, and, in the end, experience less relationship-based stress.

Emotions Run Amok

No matter what the other person has said or done, it’s always our choice how we react in response. For better or worse, we humans often have a natural proclivity towards either attack, blame or defensiveness.

Knowing that symptoms of diabetes and many other conditions can be worsened by emotional stress (with the release of stress hormones and other physiological processes), it then behooves us to reduce stress, while also learning techniques for doing better next time, diffusing anger, improving our communication skills, and negotiating conflict.

Emotional Regulation

Many psychological terms get bandied about these days, and emotional regulation is one that this writer has been hearing more frequently as of late.

To give a simple definition, you could view emotional regulation as the ability to maintain your internal emotional equilibrium, as well as the ways in which you demonstrate your emotions through body language, speech and behavior (whether in reaction to other human beings or particular situations).

For many of us, this process is like a tightrope walk through life, especially if our family history or other life experiences have caused us any form of emotional trauma or distress. And if we have been faced with deep trauma, abuse, or other forms of psychologically damaging experiences, these can be more difficult waters to navigate.

Whether we actually have a psychological or psychiatric illness is beside the point. Our tics, reactions, and ways of reacting to situations and people that upset us are to some extent habitual, and it takes concerted effort (and a lifetime of conscientious attention and honest self-awareness) to change those patterns for the better.

Getting Help When You Need It

If you find yourself challenged to maintain your emotional equilibrium, or if you find your health being negatively impacted by stress (ie: headaches, increased blood sugars, hypertension, insomnia, digestive problems), you may be receiving clear messages that some help may be in order.

Getting assistance with managing stress and improving your emotional regulation can look very different for every individual. For one person, it may mean connecting with a faith leader or trusted elder for counsel or advice. For another, regular exercise and improved sleep hygiene may be the best remedy.

 Meanwhile, any individual may at some time feel that a professional counselor or psychotherapist would be best, whether for themselves, or for a couple or entire family. In another direction, various people may find great solace and support in acupuncture, yoga, massage, and other less mainstream healing modalities.

Change is Incremental

Small and large changes in behavior and self-care practices can help you to reduce stress and increase your powers of emotional regulation, and those changes may be slow and steady, rather than sudden or precipitous.

Whether you turn to a trusted professional, alter your self-care regimen, take an appropriate medication, or turn to alternative medicine and complementary modalities, improving your emotional regulation and decreasing the stress response can only be beneficial for your acute and chronic conditions, overall wellness, and longevity.

Remember to use the tools you have at your disposal, something many of us forget to do under duress.

Be patient, be kind to yourself, and maintain an open mind when it comes to improving these important areas of your life. 

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