Christine Zellers, Assistant Professor/Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences published on August 24, 2023.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies the 8 dimensions of wellness as physical, emotional, social, occupational, intellectual, spiritual, environmental and financial. Recognizing happiness in all these areas might not always be possible but striving to balance and seek mindful habits could greatly contribute to overall wellness. Emotional wellness has three main areas our feelings/emotions, self-care, and stress. Focusing on emotional wellness could improve physical wellness too as well as the other six dimensions of wellness.
Emotional wellness is often overlooked and seeking help if you are feeling very unwell emotionally is critical. See a doctor for mental and emotional illness just like you would for a broken arm. If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide or dealing with severe mental illness, please seek help through a doctor or call the suicide prevention line, if you dial 211 you can talk to a resource specialist.
Feelings and emotions are hard for some people to cope with and a good way to achieve better emotional wellness is to allow yourself to be open about your emotions and feelings. Ask yourself if you can acknowledge your feelings in a non-judgmental way? If you are not allowing yourself to feel emotions, you may create an imbalance in the 8 dimensions and especially in your emotional wellness. Be non-judgmental about the way you feel and try to learn from your emotions to improve situations in the future. Acknowledging how you feel could let you cope better with stressful situations. If you can’t seem to understand what you are feeling or feel frustrated, write your thoughts down in a journal or draw them if you are artistic. Take time to go back over the emotions in your journal and recognize where you have shown improvement or where you still need to learn more about your emotions. Taking time out in the day for quiet time, to breathe or meditate can assist with putting feelings in perspective too as can walking in nature. Stay in touch with how you are feeling for better emotional health.
Self-care for emotional wellness is as important as physical self-care but often a hard thing to do. Good self-care prevents disease, keeps you emotionally well and reduces stress. Set limitations for yourself and recognize what you can and can’t handle. Social interaction can lighten our stress, provide us with emotional support and give our minds intellectual interaction and is a fun way to practice self-care. If you are not socially active try to find some ways to get involved in a group, club, or volunteer. When things get to be too much, ask for help to lighten your load and feel better. Find ways to make yourself calm by participating in Yoga, breathing or meditation to slow your mind. Creating ways to calm yourself naturally can assist with avoiding substances that we think calm us but really add to our anxiety. Daily routines are sometimes a chore but having a set schedule supports self-care by reducing the chances you will forget something or run out of time to complete tasks. Try to develop a routine that allows you to care for yourself, especially when caring for others. Eat a nutrient dense diet, exercise regularly and maintain good sleep habits for emotional wellness and self-care. Even though eating healthy may sound like physical health, a healthy diet, good sleep, and exercise facilitates emotional health too.
There are stressors all around us every day but knowing what triggers your stress and recognizing that the feeling will pass will aid in stress reduction. Once you identify stress triggers, be kind to yourself, think positive thoughts and realize that lifting yourself up will make you more confident and hopefully able to better deal with stress. Practicing mindful meditation or breathing assists with training our bodies to cope with stressful situations. If you find you are losing your patience or temper in stressful situations this may be an indication that you should find some techniques for better stress management. When a stressful situation comes up hit pause and take a step back to get your emotions in check. When you are not in a stressful situation practice the techniques that allow you to handle the situation better so next time you are well prepared. Some people find that touching something soft will redirect them or going for a walk, find what works for you.
Be positive as much as possible and take a look at how you view things. Reinforcing ourselves with positive thoughts can help elevate negative ones, be kind to yourself! Challenges are going to arise in life no matter how well we plan or seek to control situations. Look at those challenges and do your best to embrace them as a way to grow and create personal growth. We can’t avoid challenges but the way we handle them can make a big difference in our overall emotional wellness, look at them as an opportunity to grow.