If you’ve read my introduction to wellness, then you’ve heard of the concept of emotional wellness. Even if you haven’t, you’ve most likely had a bad experience linked to your own or someone else’s poor emotional wellness.
Emotional wellness is the dimension of wellness concerned with our emotions. Specifically, it includes our awareness of our feelings and their physical signs, the ability to acknowledge and accept our emotions, our capacity to appropriately express strong emotions, and our coping strategies.
Someone with poor emotional wellness may spend hours agonizing over natural emotions such as envy or anger. They may lash out when irritable, regardless of the true source of their irritation. A society full of people who are not in tune with their emotions would not function very well.
As I’ve said before, the best way to change our behavior is to create habits. Our brains learn from repeated actions; we can take advantage of this by training our minds with activities that improve our emotional wellness.
Unmanaged stress can lead to overwhelming negative emotions. Accordingly, habits that reduce stress can help your emotional wellness. We’ll also discuss habits more specific to the unique aspects of emotions.
Simple Stress-Busting Habits
- A balanced diet
- Adequate sleep
Stress negatively impacts our relationships, performance, and physical and mental health. These negative effects can lead to events and issues that trigger strong negative emotions that challenge our wellness. Therefore one of the best ways to help your emotional wellness is by developing habits that reduce stress.
Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising can all reduce stress from a physiological level. And, because these are (usually) things you can control, you create a feeling of empowerment that follows as you go about the rest of your life.
If you want to start exercising, check out my post about common fitness goals and how to achieve them.
Many of the other habits I talk about below also help reduce stress although that’s not their primary purpose.
Habits to Cultivate Self-Awareness
- Listening to your body
Self-awareness, the ability to recognize emotions and signs of stress, is the foundation for emotional wellness. This skill can be built through different activities; what works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa.
Making a habit of treating yourself with compassion can build the confidence required to explore your emotions. A daily mindfulness practice strengthens your mind and can help you recognize strong emotions in the moment. Developing a custom of taking time to listen to what your body is telling you can assist in noticing the beginnings of stress.
Habits to Facilitate Emotional agility
- Failure as a learning opportunity
Emotional agility refers to the ability to move on after setbacks and failures. A sign of poor emotional wellness is being dragged down and discouraged for weeks and months after a setback. An emotionally agile person is not discouraged by failure; they see it as a learning opportunity.
This positive outlook is an essential custom for the emotionally agile person. Additionally, creating habits around practicing gratitude and cultivating optimism can raise your level of emotional agility over time.
Habits to Support Self-Acceptance
- Neutrally label emotions
- Explore causes
- Accept what you cannot change
Self-acceptance allows you to release any guilt or shame you may have. The opposite is to bury and repress memories; which is not a great way to deal with emotions long-term.
When encountering emotions, there are three actions you can do, in succession, to help regulate your feelings. First, identify and label your emotions, neutrally. The last part is essential as it doesn’t help to beat yourself up about your feelings; they’re a natural reaction.
Second is to identify the causes of your emotions (and if they’re really justified). Again, this should be done in a neutral fashion while practicing self-compassion and understanding. Third, identify what you can and cannot change about the situation. Change what you can and accept the rest.
Habits for Coping With and Expressing Strong Emotions
- Practice mindfulness
- Learn relaxation techniques
In the heat of strong emotions, it can be difficult to control what may be inappropriate behavior. By practicing coping skills while calm, and processing feelings after the fact, you can better regulate emotions in the moment.
One of the best practices to help focus yourself while in the throes of emotion is mindfulness. Building habits around mindfulness, you develop the ability to avoid chaos by calmly acknowledging emotions in the moment.
Learning a variety of relaxation techniques, and practicing them in downtime, can help you calm down when you notice signs of stress or strong emotions. Some techniques are deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and focusing on your senses.
Making a habit of journaling can help you understand events and corresponding feelings. Approaching your emotions with curiosity and compassion will help you accept them in a healthy way.
Good emotional wellness can help you prevent issues caused by inappropriate expressions of emotion. I hope you can incorporate some of these habits into your life, to find emotional clarity and understanding.
Did I miss any habits? Let me know!
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