Most people think being healthy is all about exercising and eating right. But did you know that your emotions and paying attention to how you feel are all important parts of being healthy?
Emotional Wellness is a critical part of your overall health and wellbeing. In fact, studies show that feeling well supported emotionally and socially can help prevent illness and early mortality and help recovery from injury or illness.
What is Emotional Wellness?
According to the National Institutes of Health, emotional wellness (or emotional wellbeing) is your ability to handle stress and sudden changes in life.
And the National Center for Emotional Wellness defines it as,
“an awareness, understanding and acceptance of our feelings, and our ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.”
Some of the signs of emotional wellness from the University of New Hampshire include:
- Sharing your feelings with others
- Saying "no" without feeling guilty
- Being able to relax
- Feeling happy with life
- Having friends and family that support you
Why is Emotional Wellness Important?
According to the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, it's important for people to let go of negative emotions and begin a path toward healing and emotional wellbeing.
Over time, feelings that are left unresolved, such as anger and resentment, impact the chemical balance in our brains, depleting feel-good hormones and releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline. These hormones cause chronic stress that according to the University of Minnesota, can cause premature aging, high blood pressure, and even cardiovascular disease and digestive issues.
The CDC also says stress can cause:
- Body pain
- Chronic health problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble focusing
Ultimately, emotional wellness is part of our total wellbeing. Regardless of how healthy we are physically, how well we eat, how much we work out...if we aren’t well emotionally, we are more susceptible to a variety of problems and illnesses.
How Can I Improve Emotional Wellbeing?
The good news is that everyone can learn to handle stress and improve their emotional well-being. It all starts with paying better attention to your emotions, focusing on self-care, and putting yourself first!
The NIH has come up with ways to help people improve their emotional wellness, including:
- Reducing stress
- Getting better sleep
- Having a positive outlook on life
- Practicing mindfulness
- Reaching out to friends and family
- Getting help when you lose a loved one
Although these are some great ways for people to improve their emotional wellness, everyone is different and can have their own ways of dealing with stress and improving their emotional wellbeing.
Maybe you like to write poetry, or make art, or play loud music on your drums to let loose! Maybe you like spending time alone to unwind instead of with family.
What’s important is that you find what's right for you and know that it's okay to take time for yourself.
Gaining emotional wellness is a process that takes time to get right!
So don't feel discouraged if you still feel yourself getting stressed. It's normal, and overtime you'll learn what works best for you to decompress.
By improving emotional wellness, you can be able to better handle problems in life and gain what is known as "resilience." Resilience, according to the NIH, is our ability to have less negative emotions and bounce back when life gets rough.
How Does Emotional Wellness Month Help?
Mental health is health, and while technically October is Emotional Wellness Month, you can help shed light on the importance of having a strong emotional wellbeing all year long.
Some ideas to help include:
1. Participate in online forums or emotional support groups. You can provide support to someone who is struggling or find support for yourself or a loved one.
2. Host your own mindfulness groups, such as yoga or meditation classes with your friends or family. You can hold them at your local park when it’s nice out to get some fresh air at the same time. It's free, easy to do, and can let you spread positivity while increasing emotional wellness.
3. Share social media posts on emotional wellness from sites such as the NIH, or make your own newsletters or blogs to educate others on emotional wellness.
4. Get out there and laugh, enjoy time with others or alone.
5. Start journaling or take time to seek therapy and get in tune with your emotions. There's no better time than now to explore and work on your inner self!
Whatever you decide to do, take time to practice self-care and do anything that makes you happy and helps you get in tune with your emotions!
Whether that's taking a walk or a bath, anything helps.
It also helps to join the conversation and reach out to your family and friends who might also be struggling with their own emotional wellbeing. By reaching out, offering support, and raising awareness on mental and emotional health, you can make a difference in the lives of friends and loved ones!