Part 4 of the Mental Wellness series
This week we are going to look at emotional wellness. So what exactly is it? Emotional wellness is our ability to effectively manage life’s ups and downs. It doesn’t mean that things don’t go wrong, it’s just that we feel like we can handle tricky emotional situations fairly well. Some people refer to this emotional wellness as resilience, but I think it’s not just about resilience. Resilience is defined as advancing despite adversity (https://home.hellodriven.com/what-is-resilience.html). Building your emotional wellness BEFORE things go wrong is almost essential to being able to hand what life throws at us. So how do we increase it?
Firstly, our emotional wellness is very much tied into our physical wellness. Essentially; food, sleep, exercise. If you need a refresher, you can read about it here (http://bottletreecounselling.com.au/2021/04/20/physical-wellness/). Staying connected with our physical wellness has a direct impact on our emotional wellness.
Of equal importance is our ability to accept who we are as a person, warts and all. Pay attention to how you speak to yourself. We are so rarely kind to ourselves. When you are listening to your self-talk, what does it sound like? So often when I engage with clients they tell me that they would NEVER speak to a friend or family member the way they speak to themselves. Another way to really identify whether you are kind in your self-judgement is to consider how you would feel if someone spoke to a child the way you speak to yourself. If the answer to this is “HELL NO”, then maybe it’s time to practice some self-kindness.
A really great way to start addressing things is to undertake a “best friend exercise”. The challenge is to engage in a small act of kindness towards yourself every day for 30 days. Plan it in advance, map out everything for the thirty days to make it easier for you to stick to it. Make what you do the kinds of things you would do for a partner or best friend. When we are kinder to ourselves, we are able to assess things happening around us as not happening to us. This gives us an opportunity to respond from a place of strength and calm.
As an extension of being kind to yourself, another way to build emotional wellness is to start setting boundaries and using the word “no”. Our current society has a tendency to glorify being busy and this can be extremely destructive. We can also find it difficult to keep boundaries around other people’s behaviour towards us, as well as activities we engage in.
I’m not saying stop doing the dishes because you hate them (oh wouldn’t that be awesome), but if you routinely go lawn bowling with your co-workers because they just expect you to go and you detest – stop. Do things that you enjoy. Say NO to activities or outings that are an imposition on you, your feelings and your time. Are you saying “YES” to keep other people happy? Start learning the power of no.
Mindfulness is another excellent way to build your emotional wellness. By taking time to focus on the here and now, learning how to be present and just be, without worrying about the future or the past, we learn to manage things better. It’s not about meditating on a mountain top for an hour under the eagle eye of a Tibetan monk. It’s about learning to be “in your body” where you are. An easy way to start learning this is to pay attention to your five senses while doing every day things like brushing your teeth. Pay attention to the taste, feel, sound, sight and smell of what you are doing. Just starting with small daily practices can slowly build your capacity to be more present.
We’ve covered just a few ways to build our emotional wellness today. Connections are another important way to build our mental wellness and next week we will dive into social wellness to cover this more fully. If you’re interested in doing the best friend exercise and don’t know where to begin, subscribe below and we will send a free document with 30 days of exercises for you! See you all next week!