Emotional Regulation for Content Moderators

Content moderation is not just a job—it’s a constant engagement with challenging content that can significantly impact mental health. This guide, crafted specifically for content moderators, provides practical, actionable strategies for maintaining emotional well-being and resilience.

Myths V Facts:  

This table provides a clear understanding of the occupational hazards and myths associated with content moderation.  

Aspect Common Belief Research Insight
Exposure to Content “It’s just part of the job.” Regular exposure to harmful content significantly elevates risk for occupational stress and emotional fatigue.
Effectiveness of Support “Basic support suffices.” Specialized psychological support is crucial to effectively mitigate the impact of continuous exposure to distressing content.
Role of Emotional Regulation “It’s about staying strong.” Active emotional regulation is necessary to manage and mitigate immediate stress responses and long-term emotional health.

Steps to a Positive Work Environment:

Organizations could support by establishing a nurturing and empathetic atmosphere for moderators. Regular check-ins, individual sessions, and group discussions provide opportunities for moderators to express their experiences and concerns, fostering a sense of community and assistance.  

  • Assess for risks and red flags immediately
  • Promote more resilience
  • Offer clinical support
HR Contribution
  • Wellness onboarding orientation
  • Provide resilience training
  • Recommend clinical care
Technology Reduce exposure to content whenever possible or develop tools to diminish the impact if graphic images and videos.
Other Recommendation
  • Disclose risks to workers from the beginning
  • Create a safe space for workers
  • Build connections
  • Limit exposure whenever possible


Techniques for calm on the job 

Step 1: Mindfulness 

  • Technique: Practice mindfulness to enhance emotional awareness, crucial for effective emotion regulation.
  • Implementation: Allocate daily short periods for mindfulness exercises, focusing on your breathing and body sensations, to develop a habit of present-moment awareness.

Step 2: Cognitive Reframing

  • Technique: Identify and challenge negative thought patterns to reframe your perspective.
  • Implementation: When faced with distressing content, remind yourself of your critical role in safeguarding digital spaces, transforming feelings of distress into a sense of purpose and responsibility.

Step 3: Tactical Breathing

  • Technique: Utilize controlled breathing to manage acute stress.
  • Implementation: Employ the tactical breathing method during or after exposure to intense content: breathe in for four seconds, hold for four, exhale for four, and wait four before repeating.

Step 4: Energetic Armor

  • Technique: Creates a mental barrier to help shield against emotional distress.
  • Implementation: Imagine a layer of energy around you that blocks negative influences. This visualization helps maintain mental clarity amidst disturbing content.

Step 5: The Forensic Investigator Technique

  • Technique: Mental distancing from harmful content.
  • Implementation: Visualize wearing protective gear like a bulletproof vest, creating a mental barrier between you and the distressing material you handle.

Step 6: Boundaries

  • Technique: Set clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent burnout.
  • Implementation: Use physical or temporal boundaries, like a specific workspace or end-of-day rituals, to psychologically separate work stress from personal space.

Step 7: Professional Support

  • Technique: Engage with therapeutic support to address and process occupational stress effectively.
  • Implementation: Participate in therapy sessions or support groups specifically designed for professionals exposed to traumatic content.


Ways to measure if the coping skill worked:

Sometimes, we can get into our heads and not always fully realize if something is working or not. This is a great way to zoom out and see if this technique works for you, so that you can move on and try others, or work to strengthen the skill if it does work for you.

  1. When I view disturbing content, I feel: (Rate from 1-10)
  2. I find the Forensic Investigator Technique to be: (Helpful/Unhelpful)
  3. My level of stress after using Tactical Breathing is: (Higher/Lower)

Other Self-Care Strategies

  • Physical: Engage in stretching exercises, take a short walk during breaks, or practice deep breathing.
  • Emotional: Keep a journal, use thought-balloon visualization to let go of critical thoughts.
  • Social: Schedule a video call with a friend or participate in online community forums for moderators.
  • Spiritual: Allocate time for meditation, or write letters of gratitude or forgiveness.
  • Environmental: Redesign your workspace to make it more calming and less triggering.


  • Smith, J. & Doe, A. (2022). The Psychological Impact of Content Moderation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. This source provides a comprehensive overview of the mental health challenges faced by content moderators and emphasizes the need for specialized support systems.
  • Brown, T. (2023). *Effective Stress Management Techniques for High-Risk Occupations