You probably have a basic understanding of what it means to be physically and mentally healthy. Those terms are bounced around in magazines all the time because most people want to be the happiest, healthiest versions of themselves they can be.
Mental and physical fitness are essential facets of overall health, but one often overlooked aspect is equally important.
Emotional Health. Emotions? You ask quizzically. Yes, emotions are, without a doubt, critical to your overall well-being.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” - Lao Tzu
What is Emotional Well-being?
Shoes. Imagine sleeping through your alarm in the morning, and now you are running behind. You get yourself together quickly, get the kids up and ready for school and as you are trying to get out the door you realize your 5-year-old doesn’t have shoes on. Where are her shoes?
Frantically you search all the usual places, and when you can’t find them, you grab a pair of too-small sandals leftover from summer. The kids are 15 minutes late to school, and now you have to sign them in. You rush off headed for work, and the gas light comes on, the next exit is closed, and when you look up from checking how many miles you had left on your tank, the cars were stopped. You slid into the one in front of you just as your boss calls to find out why you aren’t at the meeting to facilitate the discussion on a new project.
You can now either fall apart or navigate the problems until you get to solutions. Emotional well-being is the ability to successfully handle life’s stressors and adapt and overcome them in difficult times.
When you are emotionally healthy, you control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and can keep problems in perspective. An emotionally well person is grounded and seldom overcome by negative emotions such as stress, worry and fear. It doesn’t mean you never feel these emotions, just that they don’t hijack your ability to think clearly and take necessary action.
Emotional well-being encompasses having:
• Self-confidence & self-respect
• High self-esteem
• The ability to express both your positive & negative feelings clearly with other people
• The ability to recognize regular life changes & adapt accordingly
• A positive attitude & overall optimistic outlook towards life
• Mood stability in normal conditions (everyday life, work, family) as well as extreme ones (death/loss, significant business loss)
• The ability to balance thoughts, feelings, & behaviors in any given situation
Keeping problems in perspective will go a long way in helping you cope and bounce back from life’s setbacks. Emotional well-being means you can face difficulties, overcome obstacles and find solutions.
Why is emotional well-being important?
Emotional well-being helps you moderate emotions during a crisis, so you don’t become paralyzed by one emotion, such as fear. It keeps you grounded during uncertain times, and each successful navigation through a stressful or fearful event builds your confidence and resilience.
Emotional well-being includes giving a voice to your feelings, which allows you to evaluate, understand, and transform those feelings into constructive actions and express them appropriately.
When you practice emotional well-being skills, you will learn:
• How to receive & offer constructive feedback with a healthy perspective
• How to have difficult, yet healthy discussions with anyone
• How to establish stronger, more resilient relationships
As your level of understanding, empathy, and compassion grow, you will begin to view yourself and others with less judgment. Generally, your assessment of yourself is much harsher than that of other people. Still, by becoming emotionally healthy, you will learn to give yourself a break (not necessarily with a KitKat bar, but that will work too).
When you know how to manage your feelings, negative emotions have less impact on your physical and mental health.
How your emotional well-being impacts your overall health
As a human being, everything in your life, everything you experience, whether it’s emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, or physical, connects to become your well-being.
Each area can impact other areas. For example, taking a brisk walk releases endorphins that give your brain a boost, so you get physical and mental health benefits.
Studies have long indicated that your mental well-being is impacted when you are in a state of stress and depression. You have an increased risk for cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. Your immune function drops, and your overall health takes a nosedive.
What you tell yourself about yourself is directly connected to your experience of well-being. In a clinical study for schizophrenia and depression, PhD. Rikke Jensen found a connection between people who had positive life stories about their past. When asked to tell stories of their past, subjects who relayed positive stories scored much higher on subjective (personal view) well-being than those with negative stories.
It makes sense then that your stories, what you tell yourself and how you feel about yourself, can greatly impact your health.
Benefits of emotional well-being include:
• Increased resiliency
• Take positive action for healthy change
• Heal from stress, anxiety and fear
• Decrease effects of other health issues such as diabetes & fear
• Offer optimistic thinking and solutions to others
• Improve social skills with your community
When you are emotionally well, you can practice self-control and not be distracted by negativity. Improving your emotional well-being also improves your outlook on life and your role within it.
Tips on improving your well-being
Taking control of your emotional well-being means you are prepared to face events that may or may not be in your control. It means you are ready to be a participant in your life rather than a bystander.
How do you improve your emotional well-being? Here are some strategies to get you started.
Begin with a deep breath. Before you react or speak, breathe. When you breathe deeply, you send a message to your brain to relax.
Stay or get grounded. Hold onto the edge of a desk, sit on a chair, grab a pen. This allows you to return to the present moment and away from the negativity forming in your mind.
Pause. Wait 15 seconds, and then consider what you really want to say. When you have found the words that will express what you need now, You will know you are in a state of emotional well-being.
Join a stress management group.
Get a 30-minute massage. This relaxes the body, which relaxes the mind.
Do things to make a positive impact on others.
Eat healthily. Get enough rest. Exercise. Keeping your body strong helps you endure and respond to adverse events.
Do something creative. Start a hobby.
Pet your dog or cat.
Learn how to communicate to resolve issues.
Keep a journal.
Recent research suggests that the average person has more than six thousand thoughts every day. Some are bound to be less than positive. When you notice negative thoughts, question them to see if they are true or just a narrative you tell yourself.
For example, if you say, “I hate my life. It’s a disaster,” think about whether or not you truly feel that way. Then ask yourself, “Is it absolutely true?” You may find it isn’t your entire life you hate but a portion that you can change so things will get better.
Remember the saying, “you are what you eat?” Similarly, you are what you think. Watch your thoughts as they turn into narratives about you, the people around you and the world you live in.
Good emotional well-being will give you the courage and knowledge to know that when adversity blindly strikes, you will be ok.
Melkonian, L. (2021, February 11). What is emotional well-being? 8 ways to improve your emotional health. Retrieved from BetterUp: https://www.betterup.com/blog/what-is-emotional-well-being
Tchiki Davis, M. P. (n.d.). Emotional Wellness: Definition + 20 Strategies. Retrieved from Berkley Well-being Institute: Emotional Wellness: Definition + 20 Strategies
Your Healthiest Self Emotional Wellness Toolkit. (2021, August 26). Retrieved from National institutes of Health: https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit
Hundreds of organizations support their employees through The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Investing in the right EAP to support your employees before, during and after they face adverse events will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Combining years of clinical experience and the formation of a meaningful partnership with an organization’s human resources department, Ulliance is among the best EAP providers, and our experts can tailor recommendations for a variety of work\life circumstances.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!