Did you know that your emotional health is just as important as your physical health? When you pay attention to your emotional health, you’ll find it much easier to cope with mental health concerns like stress, depression, and addiction.
If you tend to neglect your emotional health, October is the perfect time to change. That’s because it’s National Emotional Wellness Month.
What Is Emotional Wellness Month?
Emotional Wellness Month is a time to reflect on your emotional wellness and encourage others to do the same.
Some people think emotional wellness means being happy all the time. However, 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.”
In other words, emotional wellness won’t stop you from experiencing negative emotions, but it will help you handle them in a more positive way.
Most emotional wellness experts focus on five main factors:
- coping with loss
- stress reduction
- managing emotions
Mindfulness is a skill that involves focusing on the present moment, including how you feel and what’s going on around you. It helps you stop worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.
Like other skills, mindfulness takes practice.
Many people practice it through mindful meditation. In most cases, mindful meditation involves focusing on your breath or other bodily sensations. When a thought arises, you acknowledge it without judgment and gently return your focus to your body.
Mindfulness Practices In Everyday Life
You can also practice mindfulness during simple, everyday activities like eating or driving. Focus on the sights, sounds, and sensations associated with the activity, and gently redirect your mind when it wanders.
To further strengthen your mindfulness skills, seek guidance from classes, books, websites, or apps.
When life gets busy, you might start skimping on sleep. This behavior will not only leave you fatigued but also threaten your emotional well-being. That’s because sleep boosts your mood, concentration, and creativity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the average adult gets at least 7 hours of sleep each night. If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, try these tips:
- avoid caffeine and sugar in the evening
- prepare for bedtime with relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath
- keep your bedroom comfortable, dark, and quiet
- go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
If you still can’t get quality sleep, talk to your health care provider. You may have a sleep disorder such as insomnia. In this case, your doctor can recommend behavioral therapies, supplements, or medications that promote sleep.
Coping With Loss
When you lose a loved one, you may experience a variety of ever-changing emotions, including despair, anger, and numbness. Emotional wellness involves acknowledging and accepting all of these emotions.
Everyone Grieves Differently
You shouldn’t worry about whether you’re grieving the “right” way. Everyone grieves differently. For example, some people find comfort from talking about a lost loved one. Other people prefer to avoid those conversations, especially at first.
No matter how you experience grief, try to accept your feelings and show compassion to yourself.
You can also help yourself heal from the loss by:
- spending time with supportive co-workers, friends, and family members
- accepting help from those who offer it
- expressing your feelings through writing, painting, or another creative activity
- seeking grief-focused therapy
Stress makes it difficult to think clearly and handle your emotions. That’s why you should learn specific ways to relax in the presence of stressors (also called stress reduction techniques).
One of the most popular stress reduction techniques is exercise. Whether you hit the gym for an intense workout or take a simple walk, exercise lowers the number of stress hormones in your body. It also boosts endorphins, which are natural chemicals that make you feel happy and calm.
You can also ease stress by making time for hobbies. From gardening to drawing to playing an instrument, hobbies give you a sense of purpose and peace. If you already have a favorite hobby, make it a part of your daily routine. If you don’t have one yet, start exploring new activities.
In addition, you may feel calmer if you limit your exposure to the news and social media.
If you want to manage your emotions, you can’t ignore them. Instead, you must clearly identify them. The next time you experience a difficult emotion, name it.
For example, you might say, “I’m feeling angry.” While it seems simple, this technique can help you better understand your emotions, think more clearly, and take healthy, positive actions.
You can also identify your feelings by journaling. Every day, write about how you’re feeling. When you acknowledge and explore your feelings, you’ll find it easier to manage them.
You may also want to write down some things you’re grateful for. This practice helps you develop a more positive mindset so you can handle difficult situations more effectively.
Emotional wellness is all about practicing self-care. Use the month of October to take care of your mental and physical well-being, lean on your support systems, and learn how to navigate difficult times in healthy ways.