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4 Strategies For Self-Regulation in Adults

Self-regulation is a generic term for the voluntary management of physical, cognitive and emotional processes (Rheme & Rokke, 1988). In essence, we’re talking about applying cognitive-behavioural strategies to having awareness of our thoughts and feelings – which can also be referred to as mindfulness.

I speak with many health practitioners, hospitals and workplaces, each week, and they all seem to be wondering the same things – how to improve people’s health and well-being before it gets severe enough that they’re heading towards a leave from work. What follows are the best ways to help with self-regulation is prevent yourself from burning out.

How To Self-Regulate & Prevent Burnout

Physical and cognitive regulation are functions of the mind that can be trained to effectively deal with what life throws at you. You want to be aware of your body’s response to stress, so that you can shift it. Of equal importance is to be aware of the stress response on your mind, and getting ahead of the emotional-physiological response.

#1. Be Aware of Your Body’s Response To Stress.

Many people are afraid to experience some of their own feelings. Instead, this fear holds them back from being fully present in their life and it will be stored in the body.

To counteract this, ask yourself the following questions:

Are you hungry? Are you full? Are you sluggish to get out of bed?
Do you have sugar cravings?
Is your skin healthy and glowing?
Are you at a healthy weight? Can you move freely?
What are you holding onto?

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Once you become aware of your body’s response to stress, you can make a choice on whether you want to continue allowing your body to feel stressed-out/burned-out. I wrote a great article on the power of visualization that might help you here.

You can take a few moments of mindfulness each day at your desk or wherever you work most and let go of what you’re holding onto. In my podcast episode on building a healthy routine, I offer you strategies that can help you connect with your body. Relax your muscles and take a deep breath through your nose and inflate the balloon in your stomach. Take a few deep breaths and breath out nice and slowly. And pay attention to your breath, feel it move into your nostrils and just notice the sensation in your nostrils.

Do you need to move or do you prefer to lie still on a yoga mat?
Can you get up and stretch to shift your mindset?

#2. Be Aware Of Your Emotional Response

In order to self-regulate, and manage yourself and accelerate your mindpower, you’ve got to find some way to 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 being a super-mind leaning towards more peace and clarity?

Think of a few keywords that might represent your top 5 emotions that you tend to react in a positive manner, on a consistent basis. I don’t want you judging yourself. I simply want you to be curious and open right now as a way of learning to self-regulate and tapping more into the powerful emotions.

For example: empowered, compassion, patience, gratitude, appreciation, stressed, acute-stress, hungry, angry, impatient, confused, annoyed, judgemental, non-judgemental, etc…

Consider this activity as a way of bringing more awareness to your day or evening.

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#3. Keep Your Thoughts In Check

What kind of thinking are you doing that is generating the thoughts that you’re currently having? Awareness is the pinnacle of mindfulness strategies that can help you stay focused on being sane, instead of the opposite. 

For example: “I’m so pissed off right now”, “I shouldn’t have to put with this”, “I’m worried that I’ll never get this job”, “How can she do this to me after everything I’ve done for her?” Or….” I’m awesome, and I love the life I’m living right now…what can I do to make it better?”

As you’re sifting through the thoughts (contemplating), take note of whether they’re loud in your mind or soft, pleasant, painful or neutral.

By going through your mind, it’s a good thing to question what might be causing you to have the emotions you’re having. Then observe that thought leaving your mind and bringing in a new one. And go back to the breath. If you’re having trouble with shifting to a better thought in this process, consider purchasing Pure Tranquility.

#4. Question If You’re Hearing The Right Info

When we’re in a mindful state, and self-regulating, we’re able to use all of our senses especially for seeing, hearing, sensing. Try to use your senses to gain more awareness of what’s happening around you.

What are you hearing around you, and what ways are you listening to those around you? In order to self-regulate emotionally and not jump to conclusions, you can question what you’re hearing and test its accuracy. 

Many workplaces have ongoing mindfulness workshops that can help you further develop this skill. If you’re unaware of the importance of having workplace health promotion programming, I discuss it further in my Podcast Episode 41 here: The Importance of Having Workplace Health Promotion Programs in place. You can invite me to come and do a lunch & learn at your office.


What is Mindfulness?

 Mindfulness just means paying attention, listening precisely and intimately 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.

How Do Self Regulation and Emotional Intelligence relate?

Emotional intelligence consists of four main areas: 1) Self Awareness,
2) Self-Regulation, 3) Social awareness, and 4) Relationship Management.

Basically, if you can’t manage your stress in a strategic way, you’re going to have trouble self-regulating. That will affect your body, and awareness of what’s going on in your social environment. 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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