Updated: May 22
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. As I tell my clients, "You cannot have health without mental health." Understanding our emotions is a huge key in maintaining mental health. When we are emotionally healthy, we are in control of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. How we are feeling affects our ability to carry out everyday activities and our relationships.
Having a strong sense of emotional wellness doesn't mean that we are happy all of the time. Quite contrary. As sure as we all live, we all experience negative emotions. We still feel anger. We still feel sadness. We still feel stress. Stress is a normal part of life. Stress can give us the energy we need to accomplish goals, redefine our priorities, or reinvent ourselves. However, too much stress for too long can be harmful and can lead to poor emotional health. Signs of poor emotional health or emotional wellness include but are not limited to lower immunity, hypertension or increased risk of developing hypertension, increase in illness, relationship issues, difficulties at work, and trouble concentrating. Awareness of when a problem is more than we can handle is crucial in preventing harmful levels of stress that lead to these negative health and life outcomes.
We demonstrate strong emotional wellness when we are aware of our emotions and are able to successfully handle life's stresses and adapt to changes and difficult times. This is a skill that we have to develop and practice. In this article, we will review some helpful starting points to improving emotional wellness.
How do you see stress? Do you see stress as an opportunity to learn and grow from or as something to avoid? What is your overall outlook when it comes to stress? When you are stressed, are you aware of your bodily sensations, emotions, and behaviors? Do you allow yourself to experience these emotions? What is your daily self-care routine? Are you able to ask for help when you need it? In essence, the first step is taking inventory and recognition of where you are in your view of stress, emotions, and wellness.
In the midst of the storm our focus narrows and sometimes all we can see is the chaos. Being able to hold on to positive emotions and appreciate and accept both the good times and the bad is how we demonstrate a positive outlook. Good times are not permanent; however, neither are bad times. Creating positive emotions can begin with simply being thankful and showing gratitude every single day. I personally write in a gratitude journal every night before bed. Reflecting over my day and identifying good things that happened, helps strengthen my positive outlook on life. Some days indeed are harder than others. Even on those days, I will write something simple yet impactful.
I am so happy and grateful for beautiful blue skies.
I am so happy and grateful for beautiful green grass.
I am so happy and grateful to hear the beautiful song of birds
I am so happy and grateful to hear the beautiful laughter of children.
I am so happy and grateful for safe travels throughout my day.
I am so happy and grateful for conversations with (and I actually identify the name of the person).
I am so happy and grateful for the penny I found.
I am so happy and grateful for the opportunity to help (and I am actually specific).
What are some things you are grateful for that can increase your positive outlook on life?
As you read this article, what do you hear in your background? An air conditioning unit? Children? Adults talking? Someone coughing? A TV program? Were you conscious of it prior to my mentioning it? Are you lying in a bed? Sitting on a comfy couch? Sitting at an office desk? What parts of your body are making contact with another surface? What does that surface feel like? Do you feel hungry in your tummy? Do you feel any tension in your neck or back? Is your location temperature too warm, too chilly, or just right? Are there any thoughts that enter, distracting you from your reading?
Simply put, mindfulness is the concept of breathing and being fully aware of what is happening, what you are doing, and the space you are moving through or resting in. With so many daily distractions, we often lose touch with our body. Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present, aware of what is going on, and not overly reactive, overwhelmed, or overly critical by what is going on around us. When negative emotions or thoughts arise, simply breathe, acknowledge them, and keep noticing our environment. Practicing mindfulness helps us to reduce stress and enhance our performance.
Stress management is a key to being emotionally healthy. Stress management is a skill to develop. With any skill, one must practice. To practice, we must create routines. There is no shortcut to this formula. When working with clients, I always liken practicing stress management techniques to practicing an instrument or practicing a sport. One does not get skilled unless one has a routine habit of practicing.
Stress management activities look different for everyone. What works for me or for one client, may not work for another. Taken from Psychology Today article, "Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress", this list is not an exhaustive list but a starting point for you to explore ways to manage stress.
Breathe in fresh air
Snuggle under cozy blanket
Listen to running water
Hot shower / warm bath
Go for photo walk
Watch a movie
Drive to a new place
Do a word search
Try new activity
Read poetry or inspiring quotes
Spend time in nature
List 5 things you're grateful for
Write down your feelings
Accept your feelings
Take a nap
Go for a walk or a run
Go on lunch date with friend
Call a friend on the phone
Join a support group
With the invention of laptops, cellphones, and email, we see an ever-decreasing balance between work life and personal/home life because we are always accessible. Protecting our emotional wellness will require of us to establish a balance between what is work time and what is personal time. All work and no play is no fun and no good for our emotional well-being. Endeavor to set aside time to do recreational, self-nurturing activities.
Emotional wellness is important to having a healthy life and is a process. I hope by reviewing this article you have discovered something new. I also hope that you have discovered that you may already be taking proactive steps necessary to maintain good emotional wellness. Please free to share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." ~Fitzhugh Mullan
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