Regulating Intense Emotions

Understanding what to do with big emotions

Understanding and managing our emotions is crucial for our well-being and personal growth. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Primary and Secondary Emotions: Emotions are complex and can be categorized into primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are your initial reactions to situations, such as happiness, sadness, fear, or anger. Secondary emotions are those you experience in response to these initial feelings, often delving deeper into your emotional landscape.
  2. Emotional Competence: Developing emotional competence, including emotion regulation skills, is essential for social and academic success, particularly for young children (Housman, 2017). Emotional competence allows individuals to focus their attention, use strategies to manage emotions, delay gratification, and tolerate frustration and distress (Housman, 2017).
  3. Body-Mind Connection: Emotions are not just mental experiences; they also have physical manifestations in the body. Paying attention to where you feel emotions in your body can provide valuable insights into your emotional state. By making connections between emotions and bodily sensations, you can better respond to challenging moments and redirect your thoughts and behaviors.
  4. Emotion Regulation Techniques: Various techniques regulate emotions and maintain emotional well-being. Some of these techniques include:
  • Square Breathing: A deep breathing exercise that involves inhaling, holding the breath, exhaling, and holding the breath again in equal counts.
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing and accepting the present moment and your emotions without judgment or resistance.
  • Mindful Coloring: Engaging in coloring as a conscious and meditative practice to reduce stress and enhance focus.
  • 54321 Grounding: A sensory grounding technique that involves identifying and focusing on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
  • Mental Imagery: Using visualization and mental imagery to calm the mind and manage emotions.

Together, these emotion regulation techniques can be valuable tools on your healing journey, helping you navigate challenging moments and promote emotional well-being. Experiment with these techniques to discover which work best for you and incorporate them into your daily routine to build emotional competence and resilience! Want to learn more? Check out our emotion regulation toolkit in our shop page!


Housman. (2017). The importance of emotional competence and self-regulation from birth: a case for evidence-based emotional cognitive social early learning approach. Retrieved from: 

McRae and Gross. (2020). Emotion regulation. Retrieved from