Point University’s counselling professor, Simone Cox, was in the wrong place when she was 25. Cox was a divorced single parent struggling to make ends meet despite having a full-time job.
As she later found out, she was going through emotional trauma at the time. She narrates this life experience at a TEDx conference. “Emotions influence health by informing wellness behaviours, attitudes, and decisions,” Cox says.
Most of the time, we don’t give much thought to our emotional health. But it’s equally critical to our overall well-being. Most of us participate in exercise activities to keep our bodies in good shape. To maintain the radiance or gloss of our skin, we construct a skincare routine that we follow religiously.
However, we often slack in the area of maintaining emotional well-being. This is evident in rising stress-induced illnesses and mental health problems.
What is Emotional Well-being, and Why Is It Important?
Emotional well-being is an aspect of mental health that can also be referred to as emotional health or emotional wellness. Emotional well-being means being aware of your emotions and being able to control how you respond to them. Emotional well-being is important because it helps you be able to navigate through the good and bad times of life.
Emotionally healthy people are conscious of their emotions and can use this awareness to their advantage. They possess the capacity to deal with life’s disappointments in a way that does not lead to developing harmful behaviours.
Furthermore, a person’s mental and physical health can be negatively impacted by difficulties in emotional well-being. For example, Cox experienced several physical ailments due to the challenges she was having with her emotional health.
Emotional well-being impacts our overall health, so building the skills to manage it effectively cannot be overemphasised.
Tips For Cultivating Emotional Well-Being
Find That One Person You Can Always Tell Your Darkest Secrets
Everyone needs someone with whom they can confide and share their deepest secrets, pains, and troubles. We all need to express our emotions to someone we can trust. Someone who would listen and empathise with us. There are chances that the people in your life may be predisposed to criticising, condemning or judging you.
Hence, you may need to handpick the one or few people you know who can hold that space of hearing you without criticism or judging you. “I had to select and reach out to safe people in my family and circle of friends.
I emphasise the word ‘safe’ because not everyone is in a position to hold your emotions and deep dark secrets in the way you would like them,” says Cox. To know that you are not alone in whatever you are going through matters. It helps you cope better with trying times and recover faster from illnesses.
One study showed that people recovered quickly from certain diseases because of the encouragement they could get from those who care about them.
Build Your Support System
We are social beings, which is a fundamental aspect of human nature. Expanding our network and support system becomes more necessary as we grow in other areas of life. However, expanding your network of friendships isn’t enough. You have to nurture these relationships. Nurturing your relationships makes it easy to stay connected and find help when you need it.
You will endanger your health by downplaying your need for social interaction. You must plan to meet up with your friends or support system regularly. These days of technology, it is easy to connect virtually, which is why most people neglect face-to-face connections. Many studies say the benefits of in-person relationships and communication far outweigh virtual meetups.
Move Away From Toxic Relationships
As much as relationships are essential to our emotional wellbeing, we also need to move away from the ones that cause us harm and stress. When you’re around such people, they drain your energy. They could be friends, family members, co-workers, bosses, or significant others. They are characterised as manipulative, selfish, and abusive and often feel threatened by your happiness or growth in any area of your life.
Separating yourself from them doesn’t make you weak. It shows that you are protecting your boundaries and well-being and that your health matters the most.
Choose Positive Responses to Unpleasant Situations
A negative outlook can blow unpleasant life experiences out of proportion or plunge one deeper into a dark place. At the same time, a positive outlook can help you better navigate challenges or setbacks. For instance, Cox looked at her life positively, which gave her the determination to take control and do the things that would help her improve her life.
Life isn’t always going to be a bed of roses. However, staying positive is a helpful strategy that helps you cope and impacts your well-being significantly.
Do Something About Stress
In today’s world, stress is inevitably unavoidable. And by now, you already know that stress is detrimental to health. However, not many of us take the decisive steps to cut back on the stressors in our lives.
The first step to managing stress effectively, as it cannot be eliminated, is to be decisive by determining how to reduce the stressors in your life or manage the aspects within your control. Leaving stress unchecked is detrimental to overall health.
Design Your Coping Strategies
You may have realised some positive things that make you feel like your best self. By being deliberate and putting them together and prioritising them as a must, engaging activities from time to time will help to diffuse and help you effectively manage the ups and downs of life. For instance, Brain, aged 40, is an electrical engineer. After a hard day at work, he watches comedies to help him relieve stress.
John, a customer service manager, can balance his career, family, and spiritual wellness by engaging in self-talk when his emotions are rising, attending church every Sunday to practice his faith and bond with others who share his beliefs, and arriving home by 6 p.m. to spend time with his family.
Engage in Simple Physical Activities.
Being active isn’t only a necessity for maintaining physical health and impacts emotional wellbeing. The good news is that a routine workout isn’t the only way to engage in physical activity, especially for those who find it hard to stick to a regular daily workout routine.
Some ways to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life include: walking around your living room while you watch television; dancing to your favourite songs; taking a stroll every evening in the company of friends or alone. These simple activities release endorphins, a chemical that helps to elevate your mood and relieve stress, thus improving your emotional wellbeing.
Ask for Help
We are not meant to do life alone. When you find that things are becoming overwhelming in your life or that there are things you cannot handle on your own, it signifies that you need the help of others. Be that with the assistance of a professional or from your support group. Always ensure that you do not deny yourself the opportunity to be helped by others. The reality of life is that there is only so much you can do.
Hugging Provides Emotional Support.
Studies say oxytocin, a hormone that increases happiness and reduces stress, is released when people hug, touch, or sit close to someone they love or have affection for.
And the pandemic has made many people realise how beneficial physical touch is to health and wellbeing. A lack of physical contact can trigger anxiety, depression, and stress. Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, a hormone that increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
Physical touch, such as hugging, provides feelings of warmth or emotional support and other substantial health benefits. Improved sleep, improved immunity to infections, and increased wellbeing and pleasure are among the health benefits hugging provides.
Worthy of note is that hugging your kids, your partner or your parents is beneficial for them and helpful for you. Another great thing about hugs is that you can give them to yourself if you are someone who doesn’t like to hug others or be hugged.
If you ever wonder how many hugs will be enough to maintain your emotional wellbeing, this famous quote by family therapist Virginia Satir can give you an idea of what is sufficient. “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. “
Always Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about living in the present. Dwelling on adverse events that occurred in the past is a thief of joy and happiness. Also, anticipating a better future or fretting about it may deny you the pleasure of enjoying where you are. It may also make you feel agitated, thus adding to your stress levels or making you feel depressed when you think you may not be able to achieve the goals you had planned for.
Don’t Suppress Your Emotions.
Emotional wellbeing “is being able to move through all or any emotions that arise over a day without having to suppress, trap, or ignore them,” says relationship and communication strategist Misia Julia.
Also, one anger management coach says suppressing your emotions can have a negative effect on your well-being, leading to physical and mental illnesses. “Some people believe that emotional health is only having or showing ‘good’ or acceptable emotions and managing or hiding the ‘bad’ or unacceptable ones. This is not the case. Every emotion has its place and is valid,”
“You may be someone who is considered very patient because you don’t complain when people are late. However, you may feel angry and disrespected but do not know how to communicate this without being rude. This inner conflict could lead to great inner tension, distress, and emotional imbalance even though, on the outside, you may not appear to have any problems.
“In the above example, emotional health would be communicating the anger and irritation you feel if you need to while being equally okay if you don’t get that chance because you know the moment will pass and the event is not personal. If it does seem personal, it would be okay to say something and clarify this without worrying about being rude.”
Being emotionally healthy does not imply that our lives will be free of negative experiences but that we will be able to cope with them. Emotional well-being is an essential factor that we must all pay attention to just as much as our physical and mental health because it also impacts our entire well-being. The suggestions above are by no means exhaustive, but they are a fantastic place to start when it comes to improving your emotional well-being.