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4 Strategies For Self-Regulation in Adults

Physical and cognitive regulation are functions of the mind that can be trained. To effectively deal with what life throws at you, you need to self-regulate. If you can’t, you might find yourself coping in ways that aren’t healthy for you. In the end, your mental health will suffer.  When Satori launched ProMind three years ago, our vision was simple: Get health practitioners to think about their mental health more proactively. In early 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Satori launched The ProMind Experience. This program was designed to be the next generation wellness strategy; to support hospitals in raising awareness of the benefits of workplace wellness and personal development  The ProMind Experience broadened its focus to encompass physical, cognitive, spiritual and behavioural health, and support the full range of wellbeing needs of their employees. My agenda is to  building the best hospitals any nurse could work for, from the outside!

What Is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation is a generic term for the voluntary management of physical, cognitive and emotional processes (Rheme & Rokke, 1988). This voluntary management also falls under the realm of mindfulness. To become more aware of, or mindful of, your body’s response to stress offers you the opportunity to attend to it, and/or shift it. This shift gets you ahead of the emotional-physiological response, thus programming your mind for different results (aka ProMind!). 

Self-regulation is an efficient resource tool inside and outside the workplace. Think about it like the gas tank of your car. You need to keep track of how much gas you have so that your car will run smoothly. Self-regulation is a similar concept. You want to be react to regulate your body before it runs out of gas, so you can lead a joyful and happy life. The most important element of being well is to be able to self-regulate, and manage your health across all areas in your life. 

Here Are 4 Strategies To Support You In Self-Regulation

1.Become Aware of Your Body’s Response To Stress 

Many people are afraid to experience some of their own feelings. Over time that fear holds them back from self-awareness, and self-regulation.  By being aware of your body’s response to stress, you can get ahead of what your brain is about to do. This helps you take full control over your body. Awareness also helps prevent the subconscious mind from running the show. They say that 95% of our actions are subconscious. That means, you need to focus on what’s going on in your body.

Might you be feeling hungry, full or sluggish to get out of bed? Do you frequently have sugar cravings? If so, when do they tend to happen? Is your skin healthy, hydrated and glowing or are you constantly in need of moisturizers? Is your body at a healthy weight? Can you move freely – without joint mobility issues or might you be living with more pain than usual? Once you become aware of your body’s response to stress, you can start to manage your reactions to stress, and access the supports you need.

2. Challenge Your Emotional Responses

Rate your emotional responses on a scale of 1-10 when you check-in with yourself. As I said previously, people can be afraid of their feelings and emotions. Wouldn’t it be great to turn the emotional response of anger into building a super-mind leaning towards more peace and clarity? Think of a few keywords that might represent your top 5 emotions; empowered, compassion, patience, gratitude, appreciation, stressed, acute-stress, hungry, angry, impatient, confused, annoyed, judgemental, non-judgemental, etc….Try not to judge yourself. Instead, learn to be curious and open yourself up to new ways of learning self-regulation, and shifting to more powerful emotions. 

3. Develop A Toolbox of Coping Strategies

Once you have increased awareness of your physical and mental responses to stress, you want to try to stay in the moment.  To stay calm and think – and not act on your big emotions – you will need some strategies.

– >> Take mental breaks like reading a book, or walk away from your work and make a cup of tea.  You can also listen to music or watch a movie but try to develop a routine that gives you a mental break.

->> Have a physical break. I suggest you schedule a regular time in your calendar to do so each day. You can do 2 minutes of deep breathing, a quick walk up the stairs or go lift some weights. You choose, but try to get your body moving.

->> Support your body through grounding activities like yoga, deep breathing or using guided meditation. Close your eyes and breathe for a few seconds. When you build awareness into your day, to pause and take a few breathes, you bring more focus and intention to what you want. Awareness is the pinnacle of mindfulness strategies that can help you stay focused on being sane, instead of the opposite.

Start by taking a few moments each day to practice these skills, in a time of calm. When you take care of your mind and body, pay attention to your thoughts. Are they loud in your mind or soft, pleasant, painful or neutral? By taking a few deep breathes, regardless of what you were doing before or after this moment, you’re putting your prefrontal cortex in charge. The prefrontal cortex is the executor of your brain. But under stress, it gets pinched-off. This is why we don’t make the best decisions when under stress. By developing your toolbox of coping strategies when you’re calm, you can more readily access them in times of stress, giving you an advantage in self-regulating.

4. Add Supplements To Support Mind-Body Health

Many health problems can be linked to nutritional deficiencies. Nutrients like Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, Calcium, Folate Iodine, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc support one’s overall physical, emotional and cognitive health. The rising levels of nutrient deficiencies compounded by added workplace stress puts you at risk for anxiety and burnout. These are impacting one’s ability to perform at work, leading to absenteeism. You can counteract this risk and nutrient deficiency by taking a high quality B-Complex Vitamin and Multivitamin.

Just to be on the safe side, if you’re facing significant mental health difficulties, speak to your family physician before proceeding on supplements and contact the suicide hotline if you’re struggling with thoughts. As well, be sure to check your labels and avoid some of the common ingredients that can sneak-in to your vitamins like Sucralose, glucose, fructose, and maltodextrin (see podcast episode 29 on the truth about dietary supplements)  

Applying Mindfulness Techniques

 Mindfulness just means paying attention to what’s happening within and around you; listening more attentively to our own experiences and to the world around us (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Being able to practice mindfulness allows you to emotionally regulate more effectively. Any moment can become a mindfulness moment. You don’t need to take extra time out of your day to practice mindfulness. Many workplaces have ongoing mindfulness workshops that can help you further develop this skill.

How Do Self-Regulation and Emotional Intelligence relate?

Self-regulation is one core component of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence consists of four main areas: 1) Self Awareness, 2) Self-Regulation, 3) Social awareness, and 4) Relationship Management. If all those areas are working well for you, then you’re one step closer to making better decisions for yourself. But if you can’t manage your stress in a strategic way, you could be faced with some mental health challenges during difficult times. This can happen easily for health practitioners who are lacking in sleep. Sleep deprivation will affect your body, making personal and social awareness a challenge. Ultimately, this rabbit hole effect will negatively impact your relationships leaving you in a bad situation that can catapult to catastrophe.


Download my free 5-day audio program and learn to self-regulate the right way.

During the 5 days, I’m going to share with you exactly how to:

  • Pay attention to what’s happening around you and get you to be more mindful.
  • Create more opportunities for yourself.
  • Improve the relationships in your life.
  • Help you take action towards a goal, from either contemplating a change to preparing for it. 



Self-Regulation Strategies of Adults Jean A. MasseyDaniel J. Pesut Western Journal of Nursing Research.(1991). 13, (5), p. 627-634

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