Emotions and Mood Regulation

We all have emotions! The ability to regulate them is essential to our health. When we allow our emotions to get the best of us, we can experience serious, unnecessary mental distress.

Just our normal day-to-day routines can cause stress. However, with planned good self-care, you can generally prevent those stressors from weighing too heavily on you. Emotions and mood regulation is primary in any good self-care plan. Emotions and mood regulation can be considered your front line of defense against negative emotions and unnecessary mental impairment; coping skills your second line of defense. To further explain, EROS Research Group, The Institute of Work Psychology reports, “Emotion regulation affects us all in our everyday lives. If we do it well, it can enhance our well-being, our performance, and our relationships. For example, the ability to regulate one’s own feelings can influence sports performance, and the ability to regulate how others feel is vital to building good relationships with colleagues and customers. If we don’t do it well, it can be detrimental to those same things. For example, the risks we take (e.g., gambling) and the behaviors we indulge in (e.g., smoking) can be forms of emotion regulation. Emotion regulation can affect our parenting, our friendships, our work, our health, and our leisure.”1

Having good coping skills, which is the ability to deal with your negative emotions, is different from emotions and mood regulation. Emotions and mood regulation is what you do to prevent negative emotions. Whereas, coping skills is what you do after you are experiencing negative emotions. Creating and keeping a safety plan with 5 calming activities on you at all times, can help you implement those coping skills in the time need.

Think of a boiling pot and how taking the lid off can prevent it from boiling over. Taking the lid off before it boils over would be considered mood regulation (preventative). Taking the lid off after it boils over would be considered a coping skill (reactive). Prevention should be your goal. However, knowing how to cope is just as important, to prevent prolonged mental stress.

Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery have determined some healthy versus unhealthy emotions regulating strategies as listed in the table below.

Examples of Common Emotion Regulation Strategies 2

Talking with friends


Writing in a journal



Taking care of self when physically ill

Getting adequate sleep

Paying attention to negative thoughts that occur before or after strong emotions

Noticing when you need a break – and taking it!

Abusing alcohol or other substances


Avoiding or withdrawing from difficult situations Physical or verbal aggression

Excessive social media use, to the exclusion of other responsibilities

Some other examples of emotion regulation strategies would be hobbies, do things that you like to do on a regular basis, taking time out for yourself even it it means scheduling it on a routine basis to ensure that you have time to take it! Let’s not forget eating a healthy well-balanced diet, as vitamins, minerals, and nutrients play a huge role in our overall well-being. As reported by Mental Health America, Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function.3

Good mental health practices is essential to our well-being. An annual check-up from the neck up should be also incorporated into our self-care plan. With emotions and mood regulation, good coping skills, and annual mental health check-up in the tool belt, you can have yourself a dandy, functional, manageable and deliberate self-care plan that is both preventive and reactive in nature. This self-care plan (an annual mental check-up,safety plan with coping skills, emotions and mood regulating strategies) could be you saving grace, and play a phenomenal role in good mental health care practices!

1EROS Research Group, The Institute of Work Psychology

Emotion Regulation: An Easy Guide


2Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

What is emotion regulation and how do we do it?


3Mental Health America

Healthy Diet: Eating with Mental Health in Mind