By: Tim De Pass
The onset of mental health issues can sometimes feel like a slow burn. Small daily stressors and emotions can build up over time leading to significant stress and health concerns. It is like continuously lifting something heavy with your back. It will get the job done, but eventually, it will render you with an arresting pain in your back. It is similar if you cope with daily stressors or negative emotions in an unhelpful way. It can lead to significant damage in our mental functioning. However, it is not about getting rid of the heavy lifting it is about learning to lift the right way.
One study examined how individuals regulate their emotions on a daily basis and how the type of regulation affected psychological functioning. The study focused on emotional regulation regarding either reappraisal or suppression relating to positive and negative emotions. Reappraisal consists of changing the way a situation is construed to decrease its emotional impact. Suppression consists of inhibiting the outward signs of inner feelings (Nezlek & Kuppens, 2008). Reappraisal results in adjusting our perception of an event whereas suppression results in the individual hiding their feelings. It was found that suppressing positive emotions is associated with decreased self-esteem, psychological adjustment, and increased negative emotion. Whereas regulation by reappraisal is associated with increased self-esteem and psychological adjustment (Nezlek & Kuppens, 2008). This shows that our daily self-regulation of emotions has a significant impact on our mental health in a larger sense. As the study noted, our self- esteem can be impacted by how we regulate our emotions in daily life. If we decide to suppress and hide our feelings it can lead to a lack of confidence and self-respect for oneself. This study demonstrates the importance of learning to understand your emotions and to express those emotions to the outside world. Expressing emotions leads to vulnerability, which can be scary for some people. However, vulnerability can lead to emotional growth, and adapting to how an emotional situation is understood can be helpful in terms of our mental health in the long run.
Experiencing intense emotions, positive or negative, is unavoidable and attempting to eliminate these emotions is not a healthy option. But changing our insight and response to emotion can have positive outcomes on our self-esteem and psychological adjustment. Learning to express our feelings, instead of holding them inside and away from the world, can be impactful.
It is no secret that mental illness can affect anyone, which is why It is so important to take care of our mental well-being on a day to day basis. How we regulate our emotions in daily life can take a toll on our functioning if we do not intervene with timely and efficient action. In a day in day out basis, it is imperative that individuals try to improve their mental well-being. It is important to learn about behavioural responses, thought process, and our subconscious. Learning about a little bit more about our responses and emotional regulation can have an extremely positive impact on mental resilience.
Nezlek, J. B., & Kuppens, P. (2008). Regulating Positive and Negative Emotions in Daily Life. Journal of Personality, 76(3), 561-580