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45 Regulation Activities to Boost Well-Being

45 Regulation skills to boost well-being graphic stating: spend time in nature, listen to music, use 4-7-8 breathing, play a videogame, enjoy a cup of tea, connect with a friend, and bake or cook a favorite recipe.
45 Regulation Activities to Boost Well-Being

Behaviors & Mental Health: What’s the Connection

Behaviors influence mental health, and mental health can influence behaviors.

Introducing (and maintaining) new habits or activities into your life can promote psychological and emotional well-being by inducing lower levels of stress, positive thoughts and experiences, and better emotional regulation.

wire sculpture of brain. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

Want more information on habits? Habits that Improve Mental Health.

This post explores regulation activities (or potential coping skills) that can help lower stress, induce positive feelings, encourage mindfulness, and better emotional regulation (Khoury et al., 2013).

Emotional Regulation (called “reappraisal” in neuroscience [Bo et al., 2024]) is a skill and key component in managing difficult emotions, stress, depression, and relationships (Gross, 1998).

nine different lego heads with expressions ranging from anger, sad, frustrated, concerned, focused, laughing. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

As defined in the literature, emotional regulation is:

“the processes by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express them” (Gross et al., 1998).

The awareness of one’s bodily sensations and arousal state are cues into how the body processes information, and is connected to mental and physical health (Kozubal, Szuster, & Wielgopolan, 2023; Shao et al., 2023).

Regulation skills are used in everyday life by adults, teens, children, seniors, and young adults; consciously or unconsciously.

Emotional Regulation in Action

In stressful situations the body may respond with an increase in stress hormones, including cortisol (Shao et al., 2023).

woman resting her head on her hands on a desk, visible is a laptop, and open notebooks. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

Rises in cortisol are signaled by an increase heartbeat, feeling hot or sweaty, racing thoughts, and a feeling of fear, anxiety, or worry. Muscles may tense up.

The signs of acute stress are unpleasant.

non-informative image of shades of red. 45 regulation activities that boost well-being

(Cortisol can also be a symptom of an underlying diagnosis such as Cushing’s Syndrome; if you are concerned about stress hormones or other health symptoms consult with your primary health care provider.)

Have you ever received an email from a boss saying, “We need to talk?”

Did you pay attention to how your body responded?

Enter: emotional regulation. Noticing this response is your body’s way to signal the flood of cortisol yelling, “Danger!”

But in this instance, your brain perceives an email and thinks: is that a moose charging me? (or a different life-threatening metaphor)

Luckily, the rest of the brain can tell the difference between an email and a charging moose.

Adaptive, or "healthy," emotional regulation activities in this scenario (getting an anxiety-producing email from the boss) could look like striking a few yoga poses to help release that cortisol or stress, or going on a walk outside.

lego person with a sad facial expression. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

Self-Regulation & Co-Regulation

Regulation can be a solo activity (called self-regulation) or an activity to do with a friend, partner, or between a caregiver/ parent and child (called co-regulation).

Self-regulation is a skill for all; each body and brain will have unique needs. 

Being aware of (and using) self-regulation skills is vital to promote well-being and managing stress (Kozubal et al., 2023; Shao et al., 2023).

Co-regulation is fantastic skill often encouraged in couples counseling; and as a tool for caregivers to help support their kiddo. Co-regulation builds a connection and helps manage difficult emotions “in the moment.”

green wall with pink neon lights reading "and breath." 45 regulation activities that boost well-being

Emotional regulation is a skill I often review with clients; and I will write a more about the value of regulation skills in a seperate post. 

You likely already have (and use) a few regulation skills, which is great! And, it doesn't hurt to have a few more in your "back pocket."

Psychotherapy can help teach people how to recognize triggering situations, how to manage uncomfortable feelings, or how to better implement coping skills into specific scenarios.

This post provides general knowledge about regulation activities and does not replace medical advice from your healthcare professionals. 

Always consult with your healthcare providers about your specific healthcare needs.

The list below covers activities that can support emotional regulation, either through self-regulation or co-regulation. These activities can be useful for people across the lifespan!

45 Regulation Activities (For Adults & Youth)

1. Watch a comfort TV show or movie

2. Listen to music

Senior white man in a suit listtening to music, looking happy. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

3. Call a friend

4. Laugh at memes

5. Use positive self-talk

Here is a positive affirmation:

It is okay to make mistakes, I am still learning

6. Yoga

Group of people outdoors practicing yoga. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

7. Take a shower (or bath)

8. Write a letter to a dear friend,  family member, or your future self

9. Cook a favorite recipe (A cherished family recipe? A regional dish?) 

Asian baby in a chef hat and shift; holding a yellow pepper in his mouth (very cute). 45 activities to boost well-being

10. Wash the sheets on your bed; freshen your sleep!

11. S.T.O.P. (Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed Mindfully)

12. Get creative: draw, paint, or sketch a piece of art (or use an adult coloring book!)

painted colors that coincide, ranging from seafoam, ref, navy, and light blue.

13. Seek therapy with mental health professional (counselor, therapist, or psychologist)

14. Spend time in the forest

view of forest overlooking a narrow lake, peaceful. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

15. Scroll on social media (Note: avoid doom scrolling; set a timer)

16. Read a book or magazine

17. Close a few web browser tabs

18. Bake a cake (or brownies, or bread, or muffins…)

19. Go for a hike

20. Cozy up under a blanket and enjoy tea time

soft blanket on the lap of a person holding a mug with tea. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

21. Take a paddle (whip out or rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle board)

22. Journal

23. Play an instrument

24. Use clay and make a little guy, or a tiny vegetable

clay figurines, 45 regulation activities that boost well-being

25. Garden: Plant new flowers or do some weeding

26. Blow bubbles

27. Laugh! Find humor in your day

28. Take your dog on a walk

29. Hold onto an ice cube

30. Go swimming

three kids jumping into a pool. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

31. Use the 4-7-8 breathing exercise

(Learn about the 4-7-8 exercise here

32. Clear clutter: can you tidy any kitchen counters, table, or nightstand?

33. Focus on skin care: Pay a little extra attention to your skincare routine

34. Go for a drive or hop on the bus

35. Play a game: Board game? Hopscotch? Jenga? Tag? Video game?

36. Get 8-9 hours of sleep each night

Panda sleeping on a branch. 45 regulation activities that boost well-being

37. Pray

38. Mop the floors

39. Visualize a peaceful creek, or the details about your favorite tree

40. Snack on berries (or forage your own)

assorted berries in containers: blueberries, blackberries, golden raspberries, raspberrie. 45 regulation activities to boost well-being

41. Put on a pair of fresh socks, just because

42. Savor the scent of calming lavender, eucalyptus, thyme; or your preferred aroma

43. Step outside and enjoy the natural breeze

44. Build a coffee table

45. Practice gratitude: Find 5 moments to be grateful for in the day

(This might be harder than it looks!)

two fern leaves behind a notebook reading, "Today I am grateful."  45 regulation activities to improve well-being

Additional Resources:

About the Author:

Welcome, my name is Nicole! 

I'm a pre-licensed therapist pursuing the professional counselor license in Alaska under the supervision of Psychologist and LPC approved supervisor Dr. Hannah Ekstrom (#196093, #125200).

image of Nicole, a white woman with short brown hair, gently smiling while looking at the camera. Nicole is wearing a chambray button down shirt and and a striped cardigan.

I hold a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and undergraduate degrees in Psychology from Alaska Pacific University and Montgomery County Community College.

My work supports adult Alaskans who experience anxiety, depression, chronic illness, and parents/caregivers of teens. I am a  LGBTQ+ friendly and neurodivergent affirming mental healthcare provider.  

I like to spend my free time reading, baking, music, or going outdoors to forage, paddle, or hike (while avoiding moose).

Learn more about my therapeutic approach and services here.


Bo, K., Kraynak, T.E., Kwon, M. et al. (2024). A systems identification approach using Bayes factors to deconstruct the brain bases of emotion regulation. Nat Neurosci.

Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 271-299.

Hale, L., Troxel, W., & Buysse, D. J. (2020). Sleep Health: An opportunity for public health to address health equity. Annual review of public health, 41. 81–99.

Jimenez, M. P., DeVille, N. V., Elliott, E. G., Schiff, J. E., Wilt, G. E., Hart, J. E., & James, P. (2021). Associations between nature exposure and health: A review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and PublicHhealth, 18(9), 4790.

Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., Chapleau, M., Paquin, K., Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6). 763-771

Kozubal, M., Szuster, A., & Wielgopolan, A. (2023). Emotional regulation strategies in daily life: the intensity of emotions and regulation choice. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1218694.

Shao, R., Man, I.S.C., Yau, SY. et al. (2023). The interplay of acute cortisol response and trait affectivity in associating with stress resilience. Nat. Mental Health, 1. 114–123.