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The Importance of Self-regulation

Aug 29, 2022

It’s easy to say that we need to calm ourselves down. But we have all been there. We get frustrated and angry and start to lash out at those around us even though we know we shouldn’t. And then we get frustrated with ourselves and lash out some more. And on it goes. So we know we need to calm ourselves, but how do we do it?

Self-regulation can help us to handle stressful situations, helping us to cope by allowing us to solve problems more calmly and logically. And learning to solve problems before they start can help us to develop self-regulation skills when we are in a crisis.

Here are some tips:

Find ways to believe in yourself and build on that self-belief

The more that you believe you can complete a task the more likely you will be able to. This is true for any new behaviour that we try to learn. Believing in yourself to complete a task is a major contributing factor in your success. Set realistic goals, chose behaviors and thoughts that mean something for you and imagine yourself accomplishing these. If thinking about learning a new coping style seems overwhelming, try breaking it down into bite size and doable chunks.

As you master the step, congratulate yourself and then level up. If needed, remember other things that you have achieved in your life, they don’t have to be big things, but something you were really proud of. Use the skills from that activity to help you achieve your new goals. As you keep reaching your steps and new goals your skills will keep on growing, and you can use these in other circumstances.

Solving the problem before it starts: The hardest work should be before the moment

Practice being aware of your thoughts in any given moment, listen to them with curiosity. You may notice your thoughts going down a pathway, which is familiar. Or notice that you’re finding bits of evidence that support your first thought. When we are upset about something or someone we might start to remember all those things that annoyed us last week and suddenly our emotions are building.

Noticing these patterns can be incredibly helpful.

Listen to your body, it’s trying to give you clues

Taking notice of your body’s reactions can help you identify when you are starting to get angry, upset, and frustrated. Knowing these clues can help you to self-calm, or self-regulate, before it really takes over. Are you starting to get knots in your stomach, can you feel a headache coming on, are your hands twitchy? Take note of these body sensations as they can give you clues so that you can intervene before the feelings escalate further.

Take a breath, and then take another one

Taking deep breaths can help to regulate our automatic nervous system, improves blood flow throughout our bodies, helps to release tension and increases pleasure inducing chemicals in our brain and into our bodies. So, take a really deep breath, hold and count to three, then release. Try this again five times.

Find what works for you

We are all different, so it is expected that different strategies will work for different people. Some people like to get outdoors with bare feet to feel more connected, others may need to shake it out like a jellyfish, deep breathing can really help a lot of people and for some it may be all these things put together!

And when it doesn’t work?

Sometimes, even after we have mastered a new behaviour, we forget and go back to our old ways that we were trying to change. That’s okay, its one moment in time and does not mean you have failed.

Take a moment, reset, reflect on what might have happened for the old behaviour to occur (you were super tired, there are a lot of things needing your attention, you need food), think about how you can overcome this next time and keep on going. You have made positive change before, and you can again!

Our Team

The multi-disciplinary team at Minds Online consists of Clinical & Registered Psychologists and Medicare-Registered Occupational Therapists. We share a passion for delivering quality mental health care to individuals and families across Australia.



Director, Clinical Psychologist



Clinical Psychologist



Registered Psychologist



Mental Health OT / Counsellor