Can Emotional Regulation Combat Stress?

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Feeling overwhelmed and stressed has become a common experience for many of us. It’s not uncommon to find ourselves in a constant state of anxiety, struggling to cope with the demands of everyday life. However, research suggests that prolonged periods of stress can have negative effects on our overall well-being. A recent study conducted by the University of Montreal aimed to investigate whether individuals who perceive themselves as “very stressed out” exhibit higher physiological biomarkers of stress compared to those who are more emotionally regulated. The findings shed light on the importance of emotional regulation in managing stress and improving overall mental health.

The Study

The researchers recruited 123 healthy volunteers who self-identified as either “zen” or “very stressed out.” The participants underwent various psychological and emotional assessments to determine if their perceived stress levels were reflected in their blood work. The assessments measured subjective ratings of stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, emotional regulation, resilience, and mind-wandering. Additionally, the participants participated in the Trier Social Stress Test, which involved a speech and mental arithmetic task in front of judges.

The Results

Interestingly, the study revealed no significant differences in the biomarkers of stress between the two groups. Both groups experienced similar physiological responses to stress, regardless of their self-perceived stress levels. However, the “very stressed out” group exhibited higher levels of symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and poor emotional regulation. On the other hand, the “zen” group demonstrated higher levels of resilience, emotional stability, and positive mental health.


These findings suggest that individuals who perceive themselves as highly stressed may be experiencing psychological distress rather than a significant physiological stress response. This offers a glimmer of hope for those struggling with stress, as it indicates that there might not be an underlying physiological problem that needs to be addressed. Instead, the focus can be on improving emotional regulation skills to better manage daily stressors and move closer to a state of calmness and well-being.

Here are some practical steps for managing stress:

1. Stress Management

Stress management is crucial for maintaining overall well-being. Explore different techniques that help you regulate your emotions, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, or engaging in activities you enjoy. Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.

2. Don’t accept stress as a fact of life

Recognize that chronic stress can have long-term consequences on your mental health. Take proactive steps to address your emotional well-being and seek support from professionals if needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when stress feels overwhelming.

While stress is a common experience, it is essential to understand its impact on our well-being. The study highlights the importance of emotional regulation in managing stress effectively. By developing emotional competence and adopting strategies to manage stress, individuals can improve their overall mental health and move towards a more balanced and resilient state. It’s never too late to start prioritising your emotional well-being and finding ways to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and peace of mind.


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