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Self-Regulation Skills

Self-regulation is the skill of managing your behaviours, thoughts and emotions. Many people feel capable of handling their behaviours but struggle with thoughts and emotions, especially concerning mental health difficulties. It is one major component of emotional intelligence and works by allowing you to take a moment between receiving and reacting, so you can approach issues in a calm, collected and thoughtful manner.

Self-regulation aids in managing intrusive and disruptive aspects so you can supervise your mental state. It is also helpful in maintaining a sense of control over reactivity and resiliency, so you can proceed in a way that aligns with your values, thereby preventing undesirable consequences.

People who can self-regulate, act following their values, communicate seamlessly, maintain adaptability and resiliency against adversity, and take control of situations. Positive health outcomes include increased happiness and overall well-being among others. People who struggle with self-regulation can lack self-confidence and self-esteem, in addition to feeling stress, frustration, anger or anxiety.

Effective methods of self-regulation include:

  • Naming: Attributing a title or statement to your thoughts or emotions to help validate what you are experiencing. For example, perhaps your thoughts are “imaginative”, or you’re feeling “sad”.

  • Mindfulness: Focusing on the present moment in a neutral yet observant position, resulting in increased awareness. For example, as you are reading this, notice your consumption of the words, the voice in your head, your breathing, and the way you are seated.

  • Cognitive Reframing/Reappraisal: Changing your thoughts surrounding a situation, to alter your emotional response. For example, instead of thinking that your friend didn’t call you intentionally, consider how their phone battery may have run out.

  • Attention-Shifting Strategies: Changing your focus to something else. For example, instead of waiting in line and staring at the cashier, you can pull out your phone and begin checking messages.

  • Forward-Looking Skills: Focusing on the pleasurable reward. For example, you may anticipate a dessert after an intensive workout.

Maintaining control of your behaviours, thoughts and emotions can be challenging, but these techniques will help you manage your day-to-day stressors better. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we are here to help.


For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a therapist, please contact We offer free consultations as well as online and in- person therapy in our Georgetown office location.


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