We spend a lot of time tending to, improving, and maintaining our physical health, but too often, we neglect our emotional health.
While October is Emotional Wellness Month, it's important that we focus on our emotional wellness more than just one month of the year. In fact, emotional wellness is a critical component of our overall health and well-being.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, defines emotional wellness as the ability to cope effectively with life and to build satisfying relationships with others. People with healthy emotional wellness feel confident, in control of their feelings and behaviors, and are able to handle life challenges.
Here are some characteristics of people who are emotionally well and suggestions for achieving emotional wellness:
You have a Bright Outlook On Life - You're mostly positive. You have ups and downs like anyone, but your resiliency helps you bounce back from setbacks, negative events, and activities.
Develop a positive mindset. If you need help developing a positive mindset, try being kind to YOU.
Acknowledge the good things you do for others. If you make a mistake, accept it/own it, but then forgive yourself and move on.
Keep positive, healthy relationships. Make sure you're surrounded by people who will build you up and not tear you down.
Seek meaning and purpose in your life. What is important to you? Find ways to do things that are meaningful to you and your community.
Practice healthy habits. Eat healthy. Do some physical activity every day. Rest and get some sleep.
You Manage Your Stress - Let's face it, we all get stressed out from time to time, but people who are emotionally well, manage their stress. If stress is chronic and long-term, then it can lead to mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. It can also lead to many different physical issues like cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke.
Get some shut eye. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep every day.
Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Walk, run, dance, box, ride a bike, do yoga, swim, play tennis, golf, ski, skate, whatever you like to do... just get moving for at least a half hour each day. Your body will love you and so will your mind!
Build a great social network of support. We all need a team of people who believe in us, support us, and encourage us. Find your emotional sunshine group!
Set and Keep your priorities. Know what you must do and what you can do and what can wait until another time. Don't be afraid to say no, so that you aren't overloaded.
Think positive. Be Positive. Notice and recognize your daily accomplishments. Forget what you failed to do.
Relax! Practice mindfulness. Meditate for at least five to 10 minutes per day. Even intervals of one minute of calm can lower your stress levels.
Seek help if you're struggling to cope. Talk to a mental health provider if you feel like you can't alleviate your stress and anxiety, or you have suicidal thoughts. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
.You Get Quality Sleep - Getting a good night's (or day's for all you overnight workers) sleep is critical to our overall well-being. With the right kind of sleep, we're able to think more clearly, stay focused longer, and our reflexes react better.
Go to bed and rise at the same time each night/day. Researchers say that we should go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day.
Make your bedroom conducive for sleep. The room should be dark, quiet, and comfortable.
Exercise. Experts used to say don't exercise two hours before bedtime. New research suggests that you can exercise before going to bed and still get a restful sleep. Everyone's body is different. Some people like to do stretches before sleeping while some like a vigorous workout in the evenings. Just stick to a routine.
Shut off the devices! Put those cell phones, tablets, TVs, and computers, to bed, too. They also need a break from you.
Relax! It bears repeating. Right before bedtime is a good time to practice your mindfulness, meditations, or you can take a hot bath.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Don't consume alcohol, or stimulating drinks like coffee or caffeinated teas or smoke right before you head to bed.
You Cope With Loss - Losing a friend or loved one, or even our furry family members can cause a great deal of grief. That's normal and expected. Everyone mourns differently, but the way you cope plays a big factor in your emotional well-being.
Be good to YOU. Eat healthy. Get regular exercise and sleep. Eliminate unhealthy habits of smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
Use that great social network you've developed. This is the time to call on that emotional sunshine group you've cultivated. Reach out to the people who care about you the most.
Seek out a grief support group. If you can share your grief with others going through the same thing, you may find some better ways to heal and cope with your loss.
Delay any big decisions. When facing grief, it's not a good time to make a move or change jobs too quickly. Normal routines can help you get through this difficult time.
Ask for help. It's okay to seek professional help from a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other therapists to deal with overwhelming grief, sadness, depression, anxiety or other physical and mental issues.
Have patience. Mourning and grieving take time and you cannot control the wave of emotions you may experience.
You Have Strong Social Connections - Because you have surrounded yourself with people who genuinely care about your well-being, you have a great emotional support network, which gives you a foundation for physical and emotional wellness.
Bond with children. Reach out to your children, your nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and kids in the community and teach them the value of strong, healthy, connections and relationships.
Be a role model. Emulate and share with others your good, healthy habits, and routines of eating well, maintaining regular workouts and a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco.
Take time for YOU. Seek help from your care-giving duties. Take a class or pursue a hobby.
Give back to the community. Volunteer for a cause, or at an event, or a community program. You can make a real difference in someone's life and boost your physical and emotional health at the same time!
Go somewhere new. Some of the best ways to strengthen your connections involve traveling to new places, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures. Even if you just go across town or to a neighboring community. Get out and about and go do things.
You live in the present and you practice mindfulness. By being aware of things going on inside you and everything outside or around you, you are creating a mindful way of living. It does take work, but this way of life has so many healthful benefits.
Switch off the autopilot and be present for every moment. Don't just go through the motions of your day. Take time to let all of your senses work for you. Take a walk. Listen to the birds chirping. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the sun and the rain on your skin. Watch that squirrel bury the nut. Taste and savor that ice cream (everything in moderation!) across your lips and tongue. Give that friend a hug - it's good for both of you.
Breathe deeply. Take a big cleansing breath and slowly exhale. Do this 4-5 times and you'll feel your body and mind relax.
Clear your mind of distractions. Acknowledge or note any fears, thoughts, anxieties, but don't dwell on them. Focus on the present.
Be mindful of what you eat. Make sure to notice textures, tastes, and flavors. Only eat when you are hungry and quit when you are full.
Meditate and Visualize. There are plenty of digital APPs, books, videos, and online resources to teach you how to meditate and visualize outcomes for your life.
GIVE YOURSELF THE TIME AND PERMISSION TO EXPLORE THESE AREAS OF SELF-HELP! YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL WILL THANK YOU!