Why should you monitor your emotions?
Emotions are a key part of your life. They can help you to understand yourself better, and they are also important for your understanding of other people.
The human brain is a complex organ with many functions. It is the most important part of your body and without it, you cannot survive. It controls the way your body functions which in turn has a big impact on the way you think and feel. There is a strong mind/body connection in all of us. As such, it is important to pay attention to any changes in your moods or emotions, as they can even be indicators that something is wrong with your body, your mind or both.
You have emotions of some kind all the time. We are mostly consciously unaware of them, and this can get us into trouble sometimes. For more on this read or listen to my article Emotional Triggers EI Tip 1. By being more self-aware and willing to monitor your emotions, you will give yourself an opportunity to alter or self-regulate, your emotional state to a better one. Note that self-awareness and self-regulation are the first two “pillars” of emotional Intelligence.
That is why you should you monitor your emotions.
BTW – if you prefer an audio version of this, I have included one just for you at the end of this article.
What are emotions and why do we need them?
A short extract from the online American Psychological Association (APA) Dictionary, defines an emotion as being, “a complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioural, and physiological elements, by which an individual attempts to deal with a personally significant matter or event.”
Emotions evolved in early humans for a variety of useful purposes. For example, emotions play a big part in survival, action decisions, attack/defence and two-way social understanding and social cohesion. They also support communication and social harmonisation.
We have had emotions for a while now. They are not always helpful in our rapidly changing, adrenaline fuelled and stress inducing modern lives. It is useful therefore, to monitor your emotions and adapt them when necessary.
Emotions vs feelings vs moods?
Emotions are reactions and physical sensations which we experience in our bodies, when a significant even triggers them. They are pre-cognitive, autonomous, and non-conscious. Some examples of basic emotions are anger, fear, love, joy, happiness, disgust, loathing, fascination, and sadness.
Feelings are more about how you consciously think about your emotional experiences. You link your feelings to what you think and believe about the world around you.
Moods are short-term, low intensity states with no obvious starting point or driving stimulus.
All three elements can have an impact on your thinking and behaviour.
For the purposes of simplicity, I will lump the three conceptual terms together and refer to “emotional state” from now on.
How to monitor your emotions and manage them effectively
I can almost hear you asking the “So what? How do I do all of this” question. This is always the right question to ask in my experience.
I always take a practical stance when it comes to mental wellbeing, so here is a simple four step cyclic model to answer that very question. I have included a few notes and ideas to help you to start to monitor your emotions.
Monitor your emotions process step 1 – Monitor
To monitor your emotions then manage them effectively, you will firstly need to be aware of them. If someone gives you clear and valuable feedback about unhelpful emotions, then take the appropriate action immediately. It is not always so obvious or easy, so pay careful and frequent attention to your own current physiological, behavioural, and mental state. I recommend developing a self-check process for this.
My own method involves a brief physical check-in with key stress areas of my body such as hands, neck, shoulders, and back. Any tense areas can indicate unhelpful emotions at play. Then I think about an important task to gauge what type of thoughts I am having about it. I also check whether I can easily let my mind drift a little. If I cannot then I am most likely to be in an unhelpful emotional state.
You might consider setting up a time-based format to monitor your emotions. You could run a check process every 20, 30 or 60 minutes for example. Maybe you could choose an activity-based format whereby you run a check process before the next activity on your list. I run my own self-check process at regular intervals and especially before critical meetings or activities when I want to be at my best.
Monitor your emotions process step 2 – Identify
This step simply involves you identifying and analysing any emotions then putting a name to your emotional state.
Ask yourself about the bodily sensations you are experiencing, the behaviours you are exhibiting, and the quality of the thoughts you are thinking? What language patterns are you using? Are you stressed and/or anxious? What kind of mood are you in? Ask yourself any other helpful questions you can produce.
Can you put a name to this emotional state? The actual name you choose is unimportant. What is important is that it has meaning and makes sense for you.
Monitor your emotions process step 3 – Analyse
Having named the emotional state, you should now determine whether it is appropriate or not for either the current context or your next activity.
What might be a better or more useful emotional state?
For example, if you are about to have an important interview, do you want to be in an angry, nervous, or unfocused emotional state? Probably not. You would more likely prefer a relaxed, focused, and attentive emotional state.
All of this might seem time consuming and a little over-complicated right now. However, using this process to monitor your emotions really takes no time at all. With diligence and practice it will become an extremely useful unconscious habit.
Monitor your emotions process step 4 – Manage
Now you get to manage your emotional state.
There is no definitive “one size fits all” technique available because the actual emotional states, and how to manage them, vary from person to person.
You could take a break, meditate, be mindful, eat or drink a treat, go for a walk, interact with a pet, talk to a friend, think about a loved one, picture a favourite scene, take a nap, read an enjoyable book, listen to some favourite music, stretch, wash the dishes, take some exercise, or whatever else takes your fancy.
Experiment to find out what works best for you personally, then do that.
Now you can simply cycle back to the start and continue to effectively monitor your emotions as before.
By the way, you could also check out my FREE Rapid State Management Technique audio file which will help you learn to manage your emotional states with confidence.
How else can this approach help you?
When you are able and willing to monitor your emotions, you will be increasing you overall emotional intelligence. This is a good thing because higher emotional intelligence can provide many benefits for you. It can help you manage relationships with others and even improve your communication skills by understanding others more successfully. It can also help you make better decisions and improve your self-control.
Note that understanding others and managing relationships are the final two “pillars” of emotional intelligence.
You could try a mood tracker app for your phone or computer. There are lots available and all come with different quality and functionality levels. Some apps are free, and some are not. Why not experiment a little and see if you can find one which suits you?
Over to you
Start to monitor your emotions right now. Practice and learn from any mistakes. As I mentioned earlier, you do not need precise identifications. You just need to identify them and manage your emotional states in ways which work for you.
That is all for this one
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PS Do you want to maximise your emotional self-control? Here is a link to my very useful and also totally FREE Rapid Emotional State Management Technique audio file which you can download, listen to, and then learn to manage your emotional states with confidence. You’ll also join my monthly newsletter community. In the unlikely event that you don’t like it, an unsubscribe option is available.
PPS Here is the audio version of this article if you would prefer to listen.