Image Source: Freepik
Our Emotional Well being is an integral part of our functioning. It is reflective of how we think, feel and behave at any given point. Taking care of our emotional health allows to reap the benefits of emotional well-being which in turn positively impacts our personal life, work, social relationships, and our mental and physical health.
Contrary to our earlier misconceptions of mental health, it is essential to understand that emotional well being is not just the mere absence of an illness but is descriptive of how efficient we are at coping with our emotions and other challenges in our lives. According to the National Institute of Health, those who emotionally well, learn healthy coping strategies to effectively bounce back from their difficulties
Emotional Well being and Emotional Health
Imagine riding a bike with the petrol level at reserve – irrespective of how much we try, after riding about 5-6kms, our bike hits a hard stop and cannot move another inch without a refill. Now let us try replacing the bike with ourselves here; our body functions very similarly to this bike. We are busy catching up with hustle culture – toiling between our work, family, friends, health, finances and oh, this list can be endless! We continue to run in this fast-paced world oblivious to our inner anguished cries and one fine day, at the least convenient time, our body shuts down!
But just like how we rush to refill petrol when our vehicle is running on reserve, what if we do the same for ourselves too? Perhaps we do not have to wait for the system to shut down for us to make changes!
Research studies show us that our emotional and psychological well-being does not just help us function, but the more we invest into taking care of it, the healthier and happier we would be!
Signs of Poor Emotional Well being
Prolonged poor emotional well being could lead to impairment in our regular functioning. It may cause an inability to learn, participate or make effective choices at work or in our personal life.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Hampered productivity
- Social withdrawal
- Often feeling tired or fatigued
- Emotional dysregulation
- Difficulty making decisions
- Trouble concentrating
- Lowered quality of relationships
Now you may wonder how to enhance emotional well-being?
Here is a curated list of 12 effective emotional well being tips that could help you stay on track and focus on your Mental Well-being.
Emotional Well-being techniques
If you are someone who prefers to express yourself through writing rather than talking, then Journaling is for you. It is a simple activity where we pen down our thoughts and feelings, just as they come to our minds. Doing this can facilitate catharsis, a therapeutic method to vent out our pent-up feelings and thoughts. It also helps to self-monitor our thoughts and observe the patterns that might be repeating in them, thus increasing self- awareness.
Here are some journaling prompts we could use:
- What are my top priorities for the day?
- What is something I can do to make today amazing?
- What are some things I want to work towards in my life?
- What is a favourite childhood memory that still brings me joy?
- Write about a relationship that taught you an important lesson about yourself or the world around you.
Breathe in…Breathe Out…
We all breathe in and out multiple times each minute, but do we actually watch our breath? It is an involuntary process that we are so used to doing mindlessly, however, research tells us that practised breath work activates certain systems in our body thereby allowing us to unwind and restore emotional balance while enhancing our Emotional Well being. It helps in lowering stress, blood pressure and brings in a sense of calm.
Here is a quick breathing technique for you, called the “4-4-4-4 box breathing” exercise. You may find it helpful to repeat and practice this exercise about 5-8 times regularly each day. It also helps self-soothing during times when we feel the anxiety build up in us. The instructions are as follows: close your eyes and inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale 4 a count of 4, followed by holding your breath again for a count of 4.
Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself like you would with a friend when you are having a difficult time, failing, or noticing something you do not like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a stiff-upper-lip mentality, you stop to tell yourself, “This is really difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Taking this break to reflect on our needs could draw a path to better emotional well being.
So instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. After all, who said we were supposed to be perfect all the time? Things will not always go the way you want them to. We will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, we will make mistakes, bump up against our limitations and fall short of our ideals. This is the human condition, and this is a reality shared by all of us.
Try this activity that would help you cultivate self – compassion and be kinder to yourself!
Connect with Others
Most often, spending quality time with the people around us plays an integral role in enhancing our emotional wellbeing. Our loved ones act as safety blankets during distressing times. Sharing with friends or family about how we feel can act as a breather and reminds us of the support systems we have. Talking to them could help in figuring out different ways to deal with a situation and may also give us new insights into understanding how others manage their stressors. Remember, you are not alone!
Read this article to understand and foster healthy supportive relationships.
While we are all aware that exercise helps us stay physically fit, little do we speak about the benefit of regular exercising on our psychological well-being and mental health. Research indicates that staying active can improve emotional wellness and lower the risk of mental illnesses. Exercise helps in the secretion of certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and endorphins which help in bettering our mood. It also boosts our concentration and alertness as well.
Understand that exercise does not always have to mean doing HIIT at the gym, but even a regular walk, stretching out and moving around, thereby avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is a great place to start!
Shower some Gratitude
Gratitude is the art of focusing on the goodness in one’s life while appreciating what we have. This could be our ray of hope when many things around seem bleak. Expressing gratitude could begin with a simple “thank you”, “I am glad to see you” etc. Regularly practising gratitude journaling has proved to render long-term benefits on our emotional well being.
How you could do this is simple: Every night before going to bed, try to think of 3 good things that happened that day. It could be something as small as having a good cup of coffee, catching up with an old friend or having a productive day at work. Try writing these down in a journal and continue doing this every day.
This not only helps in building a healthy habit but getting back to the gratitude journal on difficult days could remind us of the little feelings of happiness and positivity in our life.
Do more of what you like
Wouldn’t it excite us to know doodling, painting or even dancing would make us healthy? Well, research tells us this is true! According to Forbes, keeping in touch with our creative side and doing what we like is not just enjoyable but also helps in enhancing brain function and improving our mood.
Research studies show us that those who indulge in arts have a significantly better mental health over those who don’t. Indulging in these can help tap into our senses and skillsets, while consistently challenging us to learn more.
Learning a new, enjoyable skill increases competence and boosts one’s self esteem. It also promotes a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of having done something. Then why wait? Maybe it’s time to cook something new, learn a language or try to play an instrument. It’s never too late to pick up an old hobby or to find a new one!
To fit all that we want to do in a day, we mindlessly compromise on our sleep. However, sleep is essential for both mental and physical upkeep of the body. It helps enhance our cognitive skills such as attention, learning, memory and emotional regulation. Sleep and our mental health are closely connected, such that when we do not have a restful sleep, we feel tired, restless, irritable, lack energy, and may experience mood swings too.
Working on building healthy sleep hygiene helps enhance the quality of our sleep. A strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and a daily routine that promotes consistent, uninterrupted sleep. This could include making your bed comfortable, hitting the bed at a consistent time, staying free of devices, and avoiding caffeine or alcohol intake 2 hours before sleep.
Here is a guided meditation tool you could listen to every night before going to sleep. This could relax our body and mind while pushing us into a deep slumber.
Take your eyes off the screen
Most of us our days start and end with looking into our phones. Thanks to Netflix, Prime and social media for keeping us glued to our screens as we scroll miles down. The virtual work environment does not make it any better for us with the time we spend looking at our laptops. A recent study conducted by the Yale School of Medical Sciences observed an association between frequent screen time and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and somatic complaints. You can also read more about social media fatigue to understand the influence of social media on our emotional well-being
Many employees also complain of physical health concerns including back pain, posture problems, eye strains and increased blood pressure owing to sedentary routines. Here is a quick tip during a busy work day: The 20- 20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you stare at your screen, focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is a quick way to give our eyes a break.
Taking a break from the screens would also allow us more time to connect with our family and doing other activities. We could all begin by having an hour of “no-phone” time everyday where we strictly put our devices away. Instead, we could go for a walk, play with our pet, read books, indulge in creative activities or perhaps even sleep early!
Take a moment and look back at your week – work deadlines, family commitments, relationships to catch up with and expenses to manage. It sure sounds like a lot of responsibilities. Amidst this busy schedule, finding time and energy to prioritize our needs and to look after ourselves is a basic step in bettering our mental health. Our happiness and well-being are directly connected and so putting ourselves ahead is a way to acknowledge and respect ourselves.
Many of us often struggle to say “No” even to something that we don’t want to do. This leads us to feeling overstretched and burnt out. What if we paused and re-evaluated our boundaries? Our boundaries are like flexible rubber bands, the more we pull the further it stretches. But at one point the rubber band snaps! What if we could instead keep this rubber band flexible, but not stretch it to the point it snaps? Likewise, it could help to have flexible boundaries while acknowledging what is negotiable/non-negotiable for us. This way we don’t feel compromised and ensure to take care of ourselves too!
Prioritizing ourselves goes beyond self-care; it is a means of respecting one’s needs the way we deserve to be respected. This is not always easy, but it will all be worth it in the end!
Using our senses
Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and don’t know how to calm yourself down? Here is a quick technique ‘5-4-3-2-1’ that grounds us. The rationale behind this is very simple: focus on your senses. This helps bring our awareness back to the present and focus on what is happening in the here and now.
Look around and focus on:
5 – Five things you see: try to describe the object, shape, colour
4- Four things you feel: hold on to a comfortable blanket, pillow, run your hands under water, etc.
3 – Three sounds you hear: could be the voices of people, birds chirping
2 – Two to smell: Try scented candles, aroma of cooked food, blooming flowers
1 – One thing to taste: this could be a piece of gum, toffee, mint or anything you find easily
Seek help when you need it
The last yet very important way to keep our mental well-being in check is to receive professional support through Counselling or Therapy.
Counselling is a collaborative process between a client and a counsellor, where the client can bring any concern, be it about relationships, parenting, self-development, work, etc., to discuss in the counselling Session. The Counsellor then explores these concerns in depth to get to the root cause of the pressing issue. Through these discussions, the counsellor-client duo come up with strategies/ techniques that could help the client navigate through their challenges. Here is an article for you to find out more facts about counselling that helps demistify certain doubts and stigma around mental health.
Here at 1to1help we have a team of well-trained psychologists/counsellors. We also ensure to maintain confidentiality for all our counselling sessions. Be rest assured, you are in safe hands! This is a quick guide to help you understand the various EAP services at 1 to 1 help that includes individual/couple counselling sessions and self –assessments.
Remember, a small change in our regular habits can take us a long way. Focusing on our mental health and well-being is our responsibility and is possibly one of the best gifts we could give our future selves!