We often think of health and well-being only in terms of physical exercise and eating habits, but emotional support and wellness is just as important, if not more so. If you aren't feeling content, satisfied, valued, needed, etc., these feelings often tend to slip over into other areas of your life, like physical health, finances, and relationships. But what does it mean to be "emotionally well"?
What Does Emotional Well-Being Really Mean?
By definition, emotional well-being is having a positive perspective which enables you to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life. So, people who are emotionally healthy generally have a positive outlook on life, feel good about themselves, are aware and in control of their emotions and actions, maintain strong relationships with friends and family, and are able to handle challenges and setbacks. Building your emotional "muscles" is just like pumping iron at the gym. With regular practice, you can improve how you feel and how you handle challenges. In fact, by incorporating a few new behaviors, you will feel happier, lighter, and more able to cope with changes. Are you up for an emotional wellness challenge?
4 Simple Steps to Emotional Wellness:
By following these 4 easy steps on a daily basis, you'll experience balance, and with that balance will come more energy, less stress and better health.
Step 1: Take time for you. Whether you need 15 minutes in the morning to yourself or a 30 minute walk in the afternoon, take a little time for you each day. When we meet our own needs, we have a higher threshold for handling stress and the obstacles we encounter. Cheryl Richardson, New York Times best-selling author, offers this excellent reason to take care of yourself first in The Art of Extreme Self-Care: The practice of self-care "forces us to make choices and decisions that honor and reflect the true nature of our soul." Imagine the emotional bliss that comes from being in alignment with your spirit. There is no better reason than this to make your needs a top priority.
Step 2: Connect with someone you love every day. It's so easy to half-listen or get distracted by the demands of life. Truly listening to someone without offering unsolicited advice or judging is a true gift. So, take a little time and really listen to your spouse when he or she shares about the day at the office, or your girlfriend who is struggling right now, or spend time with one or both of your parents. This includes connecting with you, too. You can be your own source of comfort, even during difficult times. Deborah King, best-selling author and spiritual teacher, shares great insight about loving yourself first in her article, 7 Ways to Be Your Own Special Someone. Choose one of these suggestions for raising your emotional wellness meter:
- Breathe love in and out before getting out of bed. Love your imperfectly perfect self.
- Do the things that bring you joy and spend time with those who lift your spirit.
- Imagine what life would be like if you believed in your own worth. Make the decision to BELIEVE in YOU.
- Trust yourself. You have ability to make important changes for yourself.
Step 3: Recognize and express how you feel, especially when it is uncomfortable. There are many healthy ways to share how you feel that foster intimacy and understanding in any type of relationship. Begin with "I feel hurt that you said…" or "I am really angry about ..." This way, you express your feelings but you do so without placing blame. Try to see the behavior separate from the person. Assume that the person who hurt you did so unintentionally. Ask questions to help you understand what happened and how to prevent this situation in the future.
John Holland's article, "Get Relationship Insight with Psychic Tarot For The Heart: How Relationships Are Tools For Our Soul Growth," explains how our relationships, no matter the category (friend, lover, mother, brother, etc.), become a teaching tool, and with every new insight and lesson, your soul learns from these experiences and becomes stronger and richer. A relationship can also help you understand, change, or even enhance your own individual qualities. Relationships are really mirrors into our souls. They are "…always reflecting back what we need to see. The question is: Are you willing to look in this mirror and be open to what you need to learn, or will you simply pretend it's not there and pass it by?"
*A word of caution: Although it is true that most people never set out to purposely hurt or inflame you, if you find that you are repeatedly hurt by someone, even after sharing how you feel, it may be time to consider letting this person go. To learn how to decipher who should stay and who should go, Doreen Virtue's book, Assertiveness for Earth Angels offers a guide to help you stand your ground, set boundaries, and release the guilt that comes with saying "no."
Step 4: Forgive. If you are holding onto a grudge or an old story – let it go. Really, you can choose to release a grudge. That anger, pain or old story is over and getting in the way of all the good that can enter your life right now. Forgiving yourself and others is the greatest gift you can give.
Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust encompasses the real power of forgiveness: "The love of a single heart can make a world of difference."
Open your heart and feel the difference a little love can add to your life right now.
Having a Bad Day?
Emotional well-being doesn't mean you never experience hard times or that you always feel positive emotions. Challenges and feelings like sadness, disappointment, and anger are all a part of life, and which we all experience from time to time. And you don't have to be gifted with special genetic wiring to achieve emotional well-being coping skills. Anyone can develop emotionally healthy habits and tools to build resilience, increase happiness and improve health.
So take the emotional wellness challenge today and develop your emotional muscles to enrich your life!