Daily Practices for Emotional Wellness
Daily Practices for Emotional Wellness
By Donna Wirthlin, M.Ed, BSN, RN
Life can be hectic on a good day (or in a good year). Along comes 2020 and even more chaos and distress present itself in the forms of: depression, anxiety and worry, uncertainty, fear, loneliness and more. While we cannot control certain aspects of life and what may or may not happen, we can strive to maintain or improve our own Emotional Wellness. By doing so, we can strengthen our ability to face challenges and keep a positive outlook. Included below are techniques that may be of assistance to you in having robust Emotional Wellness.
⦁ Reduce stress. Stress can be good (as in the “Fight or Flight” effect) or bad (as in worrying at 3 a.m. about a situation that has little likelihood of happening). Stress is a physiological response and if ongoing, chronic stress can lead to health issues (heart disease, poor sleep, weight gain, memory problems, etc.). Try these practices to lessen stress levels:
⦁ Rethink negative relationships. Do you have a friend or even a distant relative who is often quick to criticize, “one up” you, or compete with you? If that causes you stress, anxiety, or self-doubt, then distancing from that person may be the best thing to do. Could it be a co-worker? Interact only as you need to. Reflect on how some relationships cause you to feel about yourself and decide which ones are worth saving and which ones aren’t positive or beneficial in your life. Be kind if possible but no one ever said we have to be friends with everyone!
⦁ Learn to say “no”. We have all been told this before but how many of us really practice it? Sure, it’s nice to be asked and considered to be an asset or helpful to a person or cause but if taking on another task, time-commitment, or responsibility that will cause you stress (there’s that word again), it won’t do you any good. Do what you can or do what you are passionate about for others but make sure you consider the request before you say “yes”. Of course, we all have responsibilities such as work and family so “no” does not always apply.
⦁ Get adequate, quality sleep. Sleep, or the lack of, can affect our emotional wellness, or physical wellness, and even our relationships. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), sleep “is vital to your well-being” (“Emotional wellness checklist,” pg. 1) and adequate sleep can improve our performance throughout the day and maintain or improve our health. A big part of our day concerns sleep hygiene (good sleep practices). NIH suggests individuals:
⦁ Go to bed and get up at about the same time each day
⦁ Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool area
⦁ Exercise daily
⦁ Limit use of electronics, especially in the last hour or two before going to bed
⦁ Take time to relax (meditate, read a book, sit quietly)
⦁ Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or other stimulants late in the day
⦁ Consult your healthcare provider if you continue to have issues with sleep
⦁ Be more positive. Being positive isn’t easy for everyone-it seems some people are just born with a negative mindset. There is hope, though. You can change your outlook to be more positive but it will take some doing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of “talk therapy” in which you have a limited or pre-determined number of sessions with a therapist or psychologist. According to the Mayo Clinic, “CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way,” (n.d.). If you aren’t ready for therapy just yet, some other practices to consider include:
⦁ Forgive yourself—no one is perfect!
⦁ Reflect on the good that you have done
⦁ Spend time with people you care about
⦁ Develop healthy habits
⦁ Spend time doing hobbies you enjoy or learning new things
⦁ Volunteer (animal shelter, soup kitchen, helping a neighbor)
⦁ Minimize/Live within your means. I placed these two practices together as there is a correlation between the two. Did you know that when you have too much clutter in your home or office, it can add stress? According to Whitbourne (2017), “clutter, physical and mental, can interrupt your flow—both your ability to move and your ability to think. It turns out that your well-being could also become victim to what we might call the “clutter effect.” By setting aside time to delete emails, sort through mail and papers, clean out a closet or room, you can lessen the stress that you feel from being overwhelmed by stuff. You don’t have to spend a great deal of time at once decluttering or minimizing—spend 15 minutes each evening till your closet is less crowded. Spend a weekend cleaning out the garage. Small steps can add up to more emotional peace. Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you really need that? Will you wear it enough to justify the cost? Do you need another figurine to sit on a shelf? Or, if you must, buy a new item but give away or sell one you already have to make room.
How does minimizing your belongings fit with “live within your means”? By staying within our monthly income, we can reduce the stress that being in debt can bring. Reducing stress leads to a higher level of Emotional Wellness. Some costs can’t be helped such as rent or mortgage payment, car payment, or insurance but by staying within a budget and setting aside savings each month or payday, one can reduce the amount of stress and financial burden in life. Now the fun part: as you declutter and minimize your physical belongings, you can sell some of those items and add to your own financial wellness. Look around your home and decide what you can part with and then find a platform to sell on (yard sale, local classifieds, eBay, Poshmark, etc.). Use the money that you earn to pay down a bill or save for something special. You might be surprised how decreasing the amount of items you own can decrease your stress level.
In closing, Emotional Wellness is as important to our wellbeing as our physical health. By caring for our emotional self, we can facilitate having a higher quality of life and have less negative stress in affecting us.
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