Rigidity affects relationships by making it harder to connect with your partner. You may spend too much time thinking about the past or the present. You can unintentionally socially distance yourself from your partner. Identifying this behavior is the first step to avoiding rigidity and starting your journey toward emotional flexibility.
Emotional flexibility (EF) is the ability to regulate emotions in the context of a given situation. It defines our ability to cope with our emotions during changing circumstances appropriately. Signs that you may need to improve your emotional flexibility are:
- Ruminating about the past
- Constant worry about the future
- Becoming stuck in obsessive thought processes
- Emotional eating
- Substance abuse
Emotional flexibility is a learned behavior. The good news about a learned behavior is that it can be unlearned.
Tips to Improve Emotional Flexibility
Here are a few tips to keep in mind during periods of high stress. These coping strategies can help you practice emotional flexibility.
Surround yourself with other flexible people
The people you surround yourself with make a big difference in your mental help. People who provide support or who you can easily have fun with are great. Resilient people are important for your social circles too.
They will know how to be empathetic toward a situation while giving you space to work through your emotions. This helps you create a support system that supports without fixing and helps you stay calm when you’re frustrated. It also creates a safe space for you to ask for help when you need it.
Practice building self-awareness
Resilience is based in self-awareness. Understanding yourself and your moods allows
you to better adjust to changing situations. When you’re in tune with your body’s cues
and how mood shifts affect you, you can more easily navigate difficult situations. Self-awareness helps acknowledge positive and negative emotions without creating
unwanted outcomes for yourself.
A few ways to practice self-awareness every day are:
- Body scans
Understand that it’s okay to not know
When we’re in high-stress situations, we often hyper-focus on “why?” For instance, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why isn’t this software working properly?” The human mind is strange sometimes, and when we get stuck on thinking about why something is the way it is, we often block off the parts of our brain that are best at problem-solving.
Part of emotional resilience is knowing that it’s okay if you don’t know. This is also an acknowledgment of how much of your world is truly in your control. Adapting your day to accommodate a software malfunction or a traffic jam shows emotional flexibility.
Part of self- awareness is self-care. Self-care often makes us think of bubble baths and aromatherapy. Recognizing that you’re hungry or thirsty is also self-care, and in a lot of ways, much more important than luxury. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and incorporating gentle movement into every day are all important parts of emotional resilience.
Caring for yourself first allows you to see the brighter side of life. Instead of feeling low and like your self-worth is in the gutters, you’ll know that if all else is going wrong in your day, at least you have food and clean water. Providing yourself with these basics also triggers the brain, telling it that there’s no need to panic. You have everything you need.
Stressful situations inevitably bring out the negative thoughts that sometimes hide away in our minds. This drives anxiety, which can then lead to undue focus on negativity and make you feel disconnected from reality. One way to cope with this and get back into the present moment is to write it all down in a journal.
The ebbs and flows of life can take a lot out of someone, but you can learn to navigate this with the flexibility you need to stay happy and healthy. This doesn’t mean making your life all positive all the time. It means coping with the positive and the negative. Read more about anxiety therapy and reach out for a consultation soon.