Moran Cerf is a professor of neuroscience and economics. The past two weeks have been dramatically stressful and there has been an unprecedented series of events across the country. It seems impossible not to watch the news, but it also seems impossible to watch the news without being emotionally disturbed. Is there any specific advice that can help regulate emotions in these events? It turns out that some emotions are part of a neural circuit that is not completely under our conscious control. For example, we don’t “choose” to feel things at will; like saying, “My mom is sick. I should be sad. Now turn sadness on for 10 minutes and then turn it off.” Sadness “is born upon us” rather than chosen by us. However, we influence certain aspects of our emotions that we can train to control. An interesting mechanism to govern our emotions is language. It turns out that using words to articulate our emotions aloud helps the circuits label emotions so that they are more regulated. So the quick and easy answer. If you are feeling anxious and concerned about certain events, give a friend or someone you believe shares your emotional levels and feelings and discuss them with them.
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