Wellness. It seems everyone is on the wellness kick lately, but what does that really mean? The term wellness is used mostly in the context of our physical wellness; eating healthy, being active, quitting bad habits like smoking, and monitoring our alcohol or caffeine intake. These are all important, but we sometimes neglect a part of ourselves that can impact our physical well-being. I’m talking about emotional wellness. Our thoughts, relationships, and the stress in our lives all contribute to our emotional, and thereby, our physical well-being. So, what are the best ways to ensure that we are managing our stress, staying optimistic, and remaining emotionally well?
What Can Cause Stress?
Let’s first examine what may be causing us to be emotionally unwell. There are so many stressors in our lives such as work, current events, finances, family pressures, or maybe we’ve experienced a loss recently. All of these can contribute to our emotional state so it’s important to first understand and identify those stressors in our lives. Take some time to really reflect and think about what may be causing you to stress, neglect your friends and family, or what may be preventing you from enjoying the here and now. Once you’ve done that, take some time to consider and adopt some of the tools below that may help you on your emotional well-being journey.
Brighten Your Outlook
Simply put, be optimistic. People who are emotionally well are resilient and have fewer negative emotions (NIH). People who exercise this optimism skill, if you will, can appreciate the good times that are happening right now and experience fewer negative emotions. This can also include spending time with your good friends and loved ones who are positive, forgiving yourself for the mistakes you make, being proud of your good deeds, and maintaining your physical health. We’ve all heard the advice: even 30 minutes a day of physical activity can boost your mood. Give it a try and see for yourself.
“Reduce stress,” my doctor says. He makes it sound so easy! Well, it can be. Reference all the points made above (physical activity, be positive, etc.), but also try meditation, mindfulness practices, yoga, or if you’re really having a tough time, seek professional help. Your first step could be your company’s Employee Assistance Program plan (EAP).
Getting Quality Sleep
Another of those “easier said than done” tips. Many of us like to lay in bed and catch up on social media or watch reruns of our favorite shows even though it seems like every sleep article says, “Stay away from screens at bedtime!” Going to bed at the same time every night, sleeping in a dark environment, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol at bedtime can also help you get a restful sleep.
Strengthen Your Social Connections
“Scientists are finding that our links to others can have powerful effects on our health—both emotionally and physically. Whether with romantic partners, family, friends, neighbors, or others, social connections can influence our biology and well-being” (NIH). Look at those around you and make an effort to strengthen those bonds. The easiest way is to just spend time together doing things you enjoy.
A year or so ago Tallwave developed and designed the mindfulness app Levelhead. Using an app like Levelhead can make it easier to stay engaged with mindfulness habits. Mindfulness is the practice of being completely aware of what is happening right now; being in the moment and being aware of what’s happening within and around you. Breathing exercises are a good first step. Close your eyes, sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground and breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 2-3 and exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Do this for a couple of minutes. You’ll feel more relaxed and able to tackle your day. There are many resources to help you be more mindful and it is worth researching for your emotional wellness.
These are just a few things that can help you on your emotional wellness journey. Once you start practicing and using the tools above, you’ll find out how quickly your outlook will change and how much more “well” you will be. Try one! It can only help.
Sources: National Institute of Health
Written by Joanna Farwell–Manager, HR