Sometimes I feel like my emotions are all over the place. How about you? It’s not unusual for us to have times when our emotions get the best of us, but when they start to control us, it may be time to take a look at our emotional wellness.
So…What is Emotional Wellness?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Emotional wellness is “coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.” (1) The National Institutes of Health adds that it’s “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” (2) The University Of California, Riverside defines it as “the ability to be aware of and accept our feelings, rather than deny them, have an optimistic approach to life, and enjoy life despite its occasional disappointments and frustrations.” (3)
Emotional wellness isn’t just some level we obtain and then never have to worry about again. It’s a continuing process of checking in with ourselves, making sure we’re where we need to be, and if not, determining what needs to be done to get us there.
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to help us determine how we’re doing with our Emotional Wellness:
- Am I able to maintain a balance between work, family, friends, and other obligations?
- Do I have close relationships with people who are a positive influence in my life?
- Do I have a stress reduction “toolkit” – things that help me deal with stress?
- Am I able to accept responsibility for my actions?
- Am I able to set priorities? Is stress affecting my attitude, relationships, or health?
Checking in and asking these questions from time to time can help us know if we’re where we want to be with our Emotional Wellness.
Sometimes we just need to do a little tweaking to make sure our emotional health is where we need it to be.
Strategies for Improving Emotional Health
If that’s the case, the National Institutes Of Health has a great Emotional Wellness Toolkit. This includes 6 Strategies for improving Emotional Health:
- Brighten your outlook.
- Reduce stress.
- Get quality sleep.
- Cope with loss.
- Strengthen social connections.
- Be mindful.
For each of these strategies, they provide printable checklists with suggestions for how we can improve in each area. If our Emotional Wellness just needs some small adjustments, this is an extremely helpful tool to help us get where we want to be.
Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Treatment Network gives these tips for improving our emotional wellness:
- Realistically see the positive in all situations – good or bad.
- Develop the resiliency to learn and overcome challenging situations.
- See the good in yourself.
- Create coping skills to help with mental health issues and stress.
- Live your life with a sense of purpose.
One other thing we can do to protect our emotional health is to be careful how we think. It’s easy when we’re not feeling great to let our minds just run away from us. Small things that aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things can take on a life of their own and make us miserable.
The apostle Paul talks about taking our thoughts captive, and he also reminds us of the thoughts that will build us up: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
There are other times, however, when we experience emotional distress. In these cases, we need to ask for help from certified professionals.
Unfortunately, some Christians seem to think asking for help is admitting that their faith isn’t strong enough, but God has gifted therapists with the knowledge and ability to help people who need support with their mental/emotional wellness. Who are we to say we shouldn’t take advantage of what He has provided?
I’d just like to reiterate to anyone who feels seeking help for mental health is a weakness — mental health is health. Period. We don’t see getting help with a broken arm as weakness – why would we feel any differently about getting help for our brains?
It’s important that we know the difference between normal “bumps in the road” with our Emotional Wellness and when we need to ask for help.
One way of determining this is looking for signs of emotional distress.
Signs of Emotional Distress
Here are some of the signs the Joint Services Support website lists as signs of emotional distress:
- Inability to eat, sleep, or concentrate
- Negative outlook or depression
- Hypersensitivity to perceived threats, unexplained suspicion or fear
- Irritability, inability to control anger
- Impulsive behavior
- Extreme mood swings
- Fearfulness, nervousness, or anxiety
- Feeling emotionally numb or detached
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these signs of emotional distress, please reach out for help. You never have to suffer alone.
We live in such a fast-paced world that it’s easy for our Emotional dimension of wellness to suffer. By checking in with ourselves from time to time and taking steps to make sure we’re doing well with this dimension, we can catch any problems early and hopefully, nip them in the bud.
Do you ever do an Emotional Wellness check-in with yourself? What do you find most helpful for keeping you emotionally well? Please share!
(3) https://wellness.ucr.edu (Link has since been removed)
(4) https://www.jointservicessupport.org/PHP/Emotional.aspx (This is the link I initially used to find the information above, but it now shows it’s not private, so I removed the link. It’s a military link, so they may have just changed their certificate, but better safe than sorry).