Emotional well-being is no longer the hidden stigma it once was. As we slowly begin to put the pandemic in our past, the conversation and clear need for more and better mental health supports has been elevated to sweeping proportions, reaching across national headlines and newscasts, to workplace programs and consumer apps, right down to local school board meetings and community outreach events. Perhaps, too, it has been a personal conversation in your own home or with your primary care provider. Mental health and emotional well-being finally have a well-deserved seat at the dinner table.
What it means and how we interpret emotional well-being is as personal and diverse as the many names and notions it can go by: mental health or illness, persistent stress or worry, fatigue and mental fog, anxiety or depression, resiliency and recovery, hope, behavioral health, counseling or therapy, spiritual or religious healing, mindfulness and meditation, positive psychology, social connection, coping, focus and more.
Over the past year, we have endured numerous challenges and stressors in vastly different ways. Loneliness, isolation, death, job loss, trauma, burnout, and drastically new routines in our everyday lives has severely affected our emotional well-being. As society begins to reopen and we re-acclimate to a new normal, it’s a good time to reflect on our changed lives and path to healing. The meaning of emotional well-being that resonates best with you is the best place to begin your self-care journey.
Image shows patient talking with primary care provider.
How are you coping?
Finding a healthy practice to promote emotional well-being has many similarities to changing eating habits or starting a new exercise plan for physical health. Your goals are as unique as you and demand some well-deserved thought.
Prioritize yourself. You cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself. So, like the airline instructions, put on your safety mask first.
Write down your why. Identify the reason(s) you want to make a change in your life. Entering into a personal contract with yourself requires commitment. Finding your motivation not only helps sustain movement toward your goal, but keeps you focused and gives you purpose.
Take a few SMART steps to success.
- Specific: Create a personal mission statement by defining what you wish to achieve.
- Measurable: Make your goal tangible by establishing markers or milestones of success to track your progress.
- Achievable: Choose a goal that is doable. Avoid overcommitment.
- Relevant: Align your goal with your personal values and long-term objectives.
- Time-bound: Set end dates to keep you on track and stay motivated. Set short and long term goals. Acknowledge that it takes time to reach goals worth working toward.
Avoid personal pitfalls. Identify the situations, people or places that cause stress, anxiety, or other harmful ruminations. Do your best to set your goals in ways that avoid these known stressors.
Seek professional support. Recognizing when you need help is a strength. Additional support or treatment from licensed professionals can propel you to your goals. Consider a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, therapist, and chaplain among others.
Try relaxing more and stressing less.
From aroma and art therapy to positive self-talk and yoga, there’s sure to be an effective stress reliever and relaxation technique that works best for you. To help you get started, explore just a few of these options below.
- Guided meditation is a form of meditation and relaxed concentration that may provide mental, emotional, or physical healing. Try it here
- Progressive muscle relaxation is a method of breathing and body control to help relieve physical tension. Try it here
- Deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing is a stress management and relaxation technique. Try it here
- Relaxation or calming yoga is a gentle exercise that can help relieve stress and physical tension. Try it here
Finding the best stress relief strategies may take some time and practice. But it’s important for your total well-being to keep your stress at a manageable level. Remember the small things too, like hugging your loved ones, maintaining social connections, or even taking a walk outside.