Emotional Wellness & Mindfulness
I’m not sure why anyone thought I’d be a good person to write the blog post on emotional wellness considering I often refer to myself as an “emotional train wreck”, but here we are. Maybe I’ll learn something as I dive into this subject!
According to Student Health and Counseling Services at UC-Davis, emotional wellness is defined below:
“Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. It is important to be attentive to both positive and negative feelings and be able to understand how to handle these emotions. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills.”
I used to suppress my emotions and hoped they’d go away but that was not an effective coping mechanism. I personally struggle with anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder. Through years of counseling I’ve come to realize suppressing my feelings only makes my mental illnesses worse, so I’m working on being more open and acknowledging my emotions. Bring on emotional wellness!
A huge part of my well-being is dependent on mindfulness. I noticed a huge parallel between mindfulness and the definition of emotional wellness listed above. What is mindfulness? Well, in my own words, it’s being present, living in the moment, being aware of the things going on around you and reacting intentionally, acknowledging your feelings, and understanding that it’s up to you to determine how you respond. Through mindfulness, I acknowledge what’s happening, accept that it is indeed happening, and consciously choose how I’m going to proceed.
My current counselor is a huge advocate of self-care and regularly encourages me to practice it, no matter how small the act may be. For me, especially because I’m turning into my mother and agree to do everything under the sun, life can quickly spiral out of control and become overly stressful. Did you know it’s okay to say “no”?? I used to make my mom practice saying that word when I was a kid but now it turns out I need the same help. This is where the words of my counselor come in handy! It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to take time for yourself. If you’re stressed beyond belief, completely exhausted, perpetually tense, are you able to perform at your highest level? Absolutely not!! I’m learning it’s okay to say “no” and occasionally take a day for myself. I’m not being selfish, I’m taking care of myself.
I’ll be honest: it’s hard to face your feelings. I’d much rather mask them under some ice cream, but am I an emotionally healthy person if that’s what I do? Definitely not. So, how can I react in a more healthy manner? In addition to mindfulness, I find it helpful to prioritize what’s on my plate and be totally honest with people. If I’ve taken on more than I can handle, I’m learning to delegate. If I can’t delegate, then I’m honest about the situation and admit I can’t give 100% of myself all the time. Turns out people are incredibly understanding when you’re honest with them! Maybe something can wait or someone else can do it.
We’re human so we’re going to experience emotions. If you don’t experience any emotion, you’re probably a bot so this blog post isn’t for you. If you suppress your emotions, know that feelings are totally normal and are an unavoidable part of life. If you mess up, learn from your mistake! You might mess up three, four, five times, but if you can take something away from each slip up and work on it, then you’re working on your emotional wellness!
Emotional wellness extends beyond cancer patients. I think it extends beyond anyone who’s ill. A healthy person can’t truly be healthy if they’re not well emotionally. Taking care of yourself includes keeping your emotions in check by acknowledging them and learning from your experiences. Like most things in life, emotional wellness is going to take time to master, but I think even I, the conductor of the Hot Mess Express, can find time to get a handle on my emotions to help me become a healthier person overall.
Reflection: How did I let my emotions get the best of me today? What can I do in the future to handle the situation better?
Mindfulness Challenge: For one week, take ten minutes a day to be fully present. Pay attention to how you feel before and after this time. You just might want to extend this exercise beyond one week!