Life is difficult. Life throws challenges every now and then. So long we are able to manage them, life is thrill but when we are not, it becomes painful and causes stress, emotional turmoil.
There could be two responses to any given situation in life. One is to respond appropriately- that is after considering all aspects - that is a reasoned, well thought out response. Another is reactive, impulsive , at the spur of moment. Whereas the former represents a matured dignified behaviour, the later is childish, often ego dominated and negative. Even if situation is daunting, tough and challenging, with your measured and appropriate behaviour you bounce back.
Taking care of your emotional well-being matters. When you’re mentally cool, calm and relaxed ( not agitated, annoyed and irritating) you manage the various elements of your life and work with a range of emotions, without losing control. You bounce back.
What is emotional well-being?
Emotional well-being is our mental ability to stay cool, calm and in control and generate positive thoughts, and feelings ( love, empathy, compassion etc) when faced with adverse and stressful situations.
The important factor is bouncing back, the resilience to navigate difficult and critical life events.
For example, when you fail in a competitive exam in which you were hoping to do well, how do you feel. You dispassionately analyse the reasons, take corrective steps and resolve to try harder next time and make it or feel dejected, rejected and resentful. Your bouncing back is the sure sign of your emotional health.
According to the Mental Health Foundation and the CDC:
“A positive sense of well-being…enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life. Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.”
Why is emotional well-being important?
Normally we all love our “self”. This self is our false sense of our personality - both ways either we feel superior to others or inferior to others. This is our ego, our arrogance, our ignorance which reflects in our dealings with others.
When we discuss on some topic, we try to defend our point of view - right or wrong. The idea of any discussion should be to find out the truth- who says is immaterial. When we are emotionally healthy we can enter into a meaningful and purposeful discussion with anyone and on any topic - home or work.
We can maintain healthy relationships with our family members, colleagues, friends and neighbours as our attitude is of love and care.
We will be able to digest critical feedback, criticism and complaints in a mature way .
If that doesn’t happen, normally we carry anger, frustration, envy and resentment and often these things manifest in our behaviour, dealings and attitude towards others and life. Others have to suffer because of this behaviour both at work and home- home most often the innocent children- who cannot respond and retaliate. They have to bear the brunt.
“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it—usually to those closest to us: our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and invariably, the most vulnerable, our children.” - Fr. Richard Rohr
Relationship between emotional well-being and health?
Every aspect of our life—physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual is linked to our health, our overall well-being. Any form of physical activity- walking, jogging, running, yoga, gymming, competitive sports , even 30 minutes a day gives our brain a boost. That results in more energy, awareness, and a healthier outlook on life. Because physical activity triggers release of positive and happy hormones like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin and that allows you to remain positive, full of enthusiasm and cheerful. It also improves your sleep - wake up patterns and reduces tension, stress and irritation. This, no doubt, helps you to manage your feelings and emotions and live emotionally healthy.
“You breathe, ground yourself, and pause
In a stressful situation, this simple three-step process can help you better control your emotions says
Breathe. When you breathe deeply, you send a message to your brain that helps you calm down and relax.
Ground yourself. Hold a pen. Grab the edge of a desk. Feel the floor under your feet. You return to the present moment and away from your challenging thoughts.
Pause. Wait. Now consider, “What do I really want to say?” When you know the words that will express what you need to communicate, you are in a state of emotional well-being “ says Lois Melkonian.
How can you improve your emotional well-being?
Listed below are some of the ways that will help you to manage and maintain your emotional well-being and and stay resilient:
Exercise . The most vital element of physical health is to move. Our bodies are for movement. Earlier people used to do all things manually. But with change of times jobs and professions are such that involve no physical movement. So it has to be done as an activity in itself. It includes all forms of movement- walking, running, gymming, yoga , swimming or whatever you can think of. Minimum 45 minutes to an hour is recommended for good physical health. But do it with regularity. Do it with awareness. As mentioned above it will take care of your mental health too.
Follow a fixed routine for most of your activities like wake up time, exercise, food, work, hobbies and sleep. It gives you control on your life and acts as a big confidence booster.
Do some breathing exercises- Pranayama. Pranayama keeps your mind cool, calm and relaxed. It increases and strengthens your immune system. It allows you to focus and concentrate on things you are doing so your productivity goes up. You can practice meditation too for few minutes every day. It is wonderful technique to manage your emotions.
Observe your thoughts- start observing your thoughts without getting involved in to them. Just observe them as to what type of thoughts are produced by your mind- negative and destructive or positive and progressive. Mere observation will keep the pessimistic thoughts at bay. We put security guards in our residential and office complexes. The presence of security guards ensures that no unsocial elements try to barge in . Similarly observing thoughts have the same effect. In Bhagwad Gita this technique has been suggested as Sakshi Bhava- witness attitude.
Inculcate a hobby- all work and no play makes your mind dull, boring and monotonous. Life should be full of fun and enjoyment. But of right type. Hobbies do that work. Have a hobby that comes easy to you- painting, dance, music, drawing, singing, gardening, writing . Habits make you forget about yourself, it take you to a different world and give you a wow experience. They affect our mental health positively and make life enjoyable.
Life Attitudes- Giving is expansion; taking is contraction. Expansion is Life, contraction is death so said Swami Vivekananda. So always try to give, give and give without expecting anything in return. Now giving is not only in monetary terms, give help, give support, give a broad smile, give appreciation, give encouragement, but give. This makes your own life fulfilling and you receive blessings in abundance. Second, forgive others. Forgiving is a sign of maturity, sign of mental health; don’t hold grudges against anyone. That way you are making your own luggage heavy. As they say travel light, so travel light means forgive and move on. It also means forgive yourself too, don’t judge yourself too harshly, don’t blame yourself always, don’t demean yourself, draw appropriate lessons and move on should be the mantra. Value your relationships. It involves investment, investment in terms of quality time, nurturing, caring, helping, supporting, enquiring and so on. If your relationships with your family members, friends and colleagues is harmonious and loving ( not superficial and superfluous), it becomes a cause of supreme happiness and increases your self- confidence.
Sleep. Sleep at least 6-7 hours. During this time your brain does lot of repair and maintenance work to prepare you for next day’s work. It also keeps stress away and your ability to fight the challenges of your life increases. It boosts your immunity too. You wake up fully refreshed and rejuvenated.
“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
Merely reading is not sufficient. Action helps, action changes life. Draw your action plan on all six ways suggested to strengthen your emotional health. If you can’t on all the six initially pick three you feel most relevant to your life and list what you are going to do about them for next 60 days. Stick to your plan. If three too proves challenging, start at least exercises if you really wish to improve your mental well-being.