Without realizing it we make use of emotion regulation strategies all the time and they are crucial for everyday life. This is the control we subconsciously exert over our emotional impulses just before we react to any given event. The more skilled you become at using adaptive strategies, the better you become at making healthy everyday life decisions. The good news is that you can change the way your brain to responds in different situations, leading to better decision-making and improved mental health.
One of the most researched adaptive strategies is Cognitive Reappraisal. This is an 'antecedent-focused' approach which means that you use the strategy before you have an emotional response. This first entails mentally attending to an emotional situation that elicits an automatic judgment of the situation (called an appraisal). It then employs a cognitive re-judging of the situation in a more neutral or positive way (called a re-appraisal). This split second reappraisal can reshape your emotional response entirely. This is particularly good for impulse control issues, like a stress, or for other conditions like depression and anxiety.
Studies show that cognitive reappraisal can change one’s emotional experience very quickly. These changes can even been detected by measuring differences in physical arousal in the body, such as changes in heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance . continued use of reappraisal also improves memory for emotional situations, and improves social functioning with friendships and romantic relationships.
Researchers at the Center for Health Minds based at University of Wisconsin-Madison have made a available a free Cognitive Reappraisal programme. This is based on a worksheet and a recorded MP3 audio that supports your through the guided reappraisal.
To download or listen to the guided audio click here.
To download the accompanying worksheet click here
Or go to E-Learning page here.
To read more about the fascinating research of the Center for Healthy Minds click here.
To read on overview of cognitive reappraisal click here.
To read an academic study of cognitive reappraisal training click here.