October is Emotional Wellness Month, making it a great time to put emotional health in the spotlight. According to Mental Health America, 31% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, over 17 million adults have depression, and 7% of the adult population has major depression. Clearly, we need to put a bigger emphasis on emotional wellness, including what it is and how to improve it.
Emotional health confronts your internal states of being. Emotions being love, anger, joy, and sadness. Emotions can be broken down into secondary and tertiary states,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “Emotions and behaviors go hand in hand, such that our emotions conduct systems – reactions, choices, goals, perception, etc.
Stress, anxiety, and low self-worth are all emotional aspects of our health which require tending to. Emotional health shows up in positive attitudes, high self-esteem and self-worth, and a healthy body image.
Some ways we can tend to and bolster our emotional wellness include:
- Learn to identify emotions. Being able to identify emotions happens to be extremely challenging for even the most successful. It is not something we were truly taught to identify and then articulate. Start by simply becoming aware of your own emotional states and patterns. Once you become aware of them you can learn to successfully work through them in a healthy way, and ensure they don’t become overwhelming.
- Master coping skills. Coping is a wonderful tool for tending to our emotional health and building resilience. Coping comes in many different shapes and sizes – it’s important for people to build a tool box of effective personal coping mechanisms. This also requires a period of trial and error. Coping can be done through things like meditation, spending time in nature, phoning a friend, doing breathing exercises, or journaling. Once you find one that works, add it to the ethereal tool box and remember to pull it out in times of need.
- Get to know you. Work on understanding yourself (aka loving yourself). The more you lean into yourself and show a desire to be curious and compassionate, the greater the likelihood of you shifting into emotional health. We spend a lot of time getting to know others, but very little time getting to know ourselves, and we need to change that.
- Practice mindfulness. According to Harvard University, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and acceptance. The benefits of practicing mindfulness include decreasing depression, improving emotional reactivity, improves resiliency, and improving healthy coping skills. One of the most effective ways to improve mindfulness is to practice mindfulness meditation.
- Get physically active. Not only is getting enough physical exercise each week important to your overall health, but it’s beneficial for your emotional wellness, too. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can help to improve depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as improve mood and help you feel better overall. Additionally, exercise helps people feel more confident and releases feel-good endorphins. Aim for getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day on three to five days per week to get the most benefits.
Every day you should spend time on emotional wellness. When you do that it will pay off in all areas of your life. Make yourself a priority, stick with it, and see the beauty of the results.