The Basics of Emotional Wellness
Hi everyone! So happy that you're here reading part two of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. This week's post will be an introduction to emotional well-being and the traits that we exude when we're healthy in this realm of life. Out of the six dimensions of wellness that I outlined last week, I believe that emotional wellness is the most crucial area needed in order to lead a contended lifestyle. You might have all of the other aspects of life balanced, but without emotional stability, you're probably finding that things are feeling a bit chaotic or under-the-weather.
The two most important characteristics of emotional wellness are the ability to acknowledge your emotions and to express them in appropriate ways. Most people that I've met seem to be very out of touch with how they're feeling on a day-to-day basis. We often don't take the time to listen to our subconscious, inner thoughts enough in order to read what we need more or less of in our lives.
But acknowledging and accepting your emotions, no matter how ashamed having them might make you feel, is such an important step for getting to know yourself better and understanding how to work with your emotions.
I've found that how we view others and treat them is usually a mirror to how we're feeling deep inside. Challenge yourself to be hyper-aware of your negative thoughts for a week, and try to critique all of them to find out what they really mean. Don't take your emotions at face value!
For example: My boyfriend has been feeling unlike himself in the past few days. He's been stressed, and his normally joyful, funny personality just isn't shining through as brightly. But before Stefan acknowledged his emotions and told me all about how he was feeling last night, I was starting to feel panicked. I put it all on myself and wondered if I'd done something wrong. But when I think about it- was he treating me any differently? Nope, still as loving as ever. Was he being mean to me? Definitely not! So I was projecting my insecure feelings onto him, like it was his fault they were bubbling up from my past, when really those emotions were just about my own baggage.
We project our emotions onto other people all the time, even when they have nothing to do with how we're feeling. You know what I'm talking about... The mother who is scared about not being able to pay next month's rent but takes that fear and lashes out at her kids. The colleague who always makes your dreams seem insignificant when really he's upset because he hasn't pursued any of his goals. If we try to see these emotional mirrors in ourselves and other people, we become so much better at expressing ourselves in a healthy way.
There are too many ways to express emotions for me to go through them all here, but to simplify things a bit, we can assume that any emotional reaction on an extreme side of the spectrum probably doesn't count as "appropriate." Here are a few examples:
- Yelling or getting enraged about insignificant issues
- Criticizing others when you're feeling down about yourself
- Bottling up all of your thoughts and feelings so that you won't upset others
The above three examples are emotional extremes that will get you all wound up with poisonous, angry feelings without them actually helping your life one bit. They will only serve to push the people in your life away from you. I know from experience! When I was younger, I had tons of anger and bitterness trapped inside of me, and I had no clue how to properly express it. Instead, I got into verbal fights with anyone and everyone around me- especially authority figures! The funny thing is, I was so angry because I craved more love and quality time from those important to me, but my behavior only pushed people away more.
So what can you do to better acknowledge and express your true feelings? Here are some ideas:
Like I said above, take a week to be extra aware of any time you feel a negative emotion- anger, sadness, jealousy, insecurity, judgment, etc. In the moments when you're feeling that way, explore the "why" part of the problem. Why are you feeling this way? Deep down, is it really about the situation/ person at hand, or is it something in you? Perhaps it's an issue from your past, or an insecurity that this person has absolutely nothing to do with. Dig around in those feelings to understand yourself more.
Once you've done that, don't beat yourself up about it! If you've found that you're directing your negative emotions at the wrong person/ issue, don't make yourself feel guilty and sad. Just accept that it happened, apologize sincerely, and move on to change your emotional well-being for the better!
Learn from your mistakes in a positive way. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but the people with emotional wellness are the ones who act to change their behaviors. Acknowledging emotions is the first step, but then we have to work to use them in a healthy way. Take it day by day! Be nice to yourself.
It might sound cheesy or hippy-ish, but just choose love. When you feel the urge to say something judgmental or to react angrily, think: Do they deserve this? Will this make their life or my life any better? The answer is probably "no." So instead, choose to love. Be kind. Why are we so harsh with our words anyway? The more often you choose the loving reaction, the more it will become a behavioral habit. Before you know it, your life will feel so much more positive and emotionally stable. That's what happened to me when I was younger and lashing out all the time. I decided that I was sick of feeling constantly angry and mean, and I allowed the softer, sweet side of my personality to shine though. Now, that nice person is who I view myself as completely (but with some sass left over for fun, of course!).
Make Happiness a Priority
Straighten out your priorities and align your emotions with them. Make your emotional wellness important to your life. Are there certain people or activities that are depleting you of happiness? If you aren't being treated the way you deserve to be treated, with kindness and respect, then let them go. People and activities that selfishly bring you down don't deserve your time. You have the right to be happy just as much as anyone else.
Practice meditating to gain more clarity in your mind and calm in your life. If you have a hyperactive brain, try activities like yoga, dancing, surfing, or doodling. They'll provide a similar effect by keeping your mind focused on one task instead of worrying about a million life issues.
Ask for Help
Don't try to go about hard times alone. Find people that you can open up to so that you can keep emotions from building up inside. And if you're having serious emotional problems that are dramatically altering your life, please visit a therapist or doctor!
I could literally create an entire blog about the importance of emotional wellness and tips for stabilizing this area of life, so I hope this post can work as a basic introduction to the overwhelming amount of information I could give! If you have any specific questions for me regarding this topic, please leave it in the comments below! The next post in the series will cover spiritual wellness- one of the areas that I'd like to improve more in myself.
So what do you need to improve upon emotionally? Do you need to be more communicative about how you're feeling with your significant other? Or maybe you need to filter yourself better, because you say things that *sting* too much? Let me know below, and please share with your friends! :)
Have a wonderful weekend,