The Emotional Self-Control Over Anxiety

It's every person's responsibility to exercise self-control over anxiety. One way to do it is through a series of emotional techniques. Continue reading to find out what they are!
The Emotional Self-Control Over Anxiety
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The key premise of having emotional self-control over anxiety arises from the need to learn to control yourself in a world where you can control very little. Therefore, what can you actually control? Actually, you have control over many more things than you think but the most important one is your own peace of mind.

This is a reality dominated by constant change and uncertainty. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that anxiety and stress are like a barometer that reflects the psychological challenge much of the population goes through. It’s quite easy to feel a certain sense of chaos, to feel like you’re at the mercy of external events, and that almost everything is out of your hands.

However, you can better manage any threatening situation when you’re able to control your emotions. Relaxing with the proper strategies will allow you to feel safer.

You can skillfully overcome most difficulties with some emotional management strategies. Therefore, you must be able to understand how to better deal with anxiety at such moments.

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle, no need to be anybody but yourself.”

-Virginia Woolf-

A woman trying to exercise self-control over her anxiety.

What’s the emotional self-control of anxiety about?

Research on the impact of emotional self-control on anxiety has increased significantly in recent years. The field of self-awareness and the regulation of these psychophysiological states are key. In fact, this is determining in anxiety disorders. Thus, keep it in mind.

You may associate the term “self-control” with ideas like “containment”, “repression”, or “an effort to dominate something at a high energy cost”. However, this is a mistake.

The area of control in the field of emotions is related to identification, acceptance, and regulation. One should neither repress pain nor hide anger without first understanding it; without knowing what’s behind such feelings. Thus, only when you understand it will you be able to reduce its impact.

Studies such as the one conducted at the University of Arkansas indicate that fear and anxiety are almost the same entity these days. Furthermore, fear is nothing more than a defensive emotion that puts you on guard. Therefore, proper education in the area of regulation and emotional self-control will facilitate better management of these psychological conditions.

Here are some keys to the emotional self-control of anxiety.

It isn’t a matter of avoidance but of acceptance

There are few things people passionately avoid like that which disturbs, hurts, and worries them. In other words, humans are rather skilled at avoiding uncomfortable emotions, not knowing that by doing so we further intensify their presence. For example, the emotion you feel when faced with the threat of something you’re worried about is sometimes a lot worse than the stressful stimulus itself.

For instance, the anxiety you may feel before an exam is much more disabling than the academic test itself. Therefore, the first strategy of emotional self-control of anxiety is to accept every emotion you feel. You must leave space for it without repressing it and accept it for what it is: a psycho-physiological state with a concrete purpose.

Fear is about taking action. The purpose of anxiety is to put yourself in motion to solve anything that’s distressing you. Sadness needs introspection, reflection, and decision making. Similarly, anger needs a resolution of whatever’s taking away your peace of mind.

Focus on what you can control and accept what you can’t

Life is full of challenges, twists of fate, and complications no one expects. Nobody is in control of many of these events but one thing is in everyone’s hands: dealing with them in the best possible way. This is where your emotions come into play.

  • This is because you have the right to feel fear, anger, stupefaction, and discouragement but you can’t let these states block or invalidate you.
  • You’re in control of yourself and there must be a purpose to every single one of your reactions: to adapt to the situation. Keep in mind that adaptation isn’t about giving up but about responding appropriately and moving forward in a balanced manner where you use your ingenuity and your resilience.
A distressed man.

Emotional self-control of anxiety, the technique of extended self-awareness

People tend to withdraw or overreact when we feel anxious and distressed (kind of like a panic attack).

An adequate strategy to work on the emotional self-control of anxiety involves becoming aware of the present moment and releasing or extending those emotions in a cathartic, adequate, and healthy manner. How? Here are some keys:

  • What do you feel in the here and now? Write down every thought and feeling, analyze them, and try to rationalize those ideas.
  • Become aware of how your defensiveness and alertness are the same reactions you feel when something bad’s about to happen. Thus, ask for help and talk to someone you trust about how you feel because together you’ll relieve some of your fears and worries.
  • Have you been immersed in your thoughts for a few days? Are you tense? Does your body hurt? Is your mind continuously going over the same issues? It’s time to release tension, then. Therefore, do a physical activity, walk, run, or do some creative activity that can help you.

In conclusion, it’s true that these strategies won’t help you completely deal with an anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, they’re useful for dealing with your daily anxiety during those states of stress and worry that often hold you back. Keep it in mind and apply these techniques when you need them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.