October: Emotional Wellness Month
October is emotional wellness month, but what is emotional wellness and why is it so important? 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 complex emotions. Being emotionally well grants you the power to be able to express these emotions without any constraints and in turn, allows you to learn and grow from experiences, as well as form supportive and interdependent relationships with others.
When transitioning from a correctional facility to independent living or reengaging in healthier lifestyle habits, all while maintaining sobriety, often brings a rush of new emotions, choices, and anxieties for a person. These responses influence eating habits, sleep habits, ability to exercise, and our social responses to others. Emotional wellness ties into our mind, body, and spirit and are normal and natural parts of our human nature. For the most part, being human means having challenges and problems. However, it is all about how you deal or cope with those problems that determine your emotional wellness. Being emotionally well does not necessarily mean that you are happy all the time, but rather that you are self-aware and able to shift as a way to feel better.
So how can you practice emotional wellness? Here are five questions to ask yourself with tips on how to include these facets into your daily life.
- How do you treat others personally? Those who are emotionally well tend to be more empathetic and generous to the needs of others. If this is an area you struggle in, try cooking and sharing a meal with a close family member, friend, or roommate. Engage with someone outside of your inner circle, that could be talking to a stranger on the bus or engaging with a stranger at work. Be curious and take interest in someone other than yourself and challenge yourself to encounter lives and worldviews other than your own.
- Are you grateful? Emotionally healthy people express gratitude for their lives and all the goodness they experience. Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life, there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. This could be appreciating nice weather or receiving assistance from a friend, coworker, or family member. Keep a gratitude journal and look back on it when you need a reminder of the positives in your life.
- Are you happy with the person you are? Emotionally healthy people take care of themselves physically and psychologically by doing what is beneficial to them. Losing weight and eating healthy can be done, even on a budget. Try buying frozen fruits or vegetables, as they are less likely to spoil and come in larger quantities. They can be made into smoothies or used as a quick side dish. Replace soda and juice with water, it’s better for your overall health and a much cheaper alternative. Exercising can be snuck into your daily routine as well. Try taking the stairs as opposed to an elevator, walk rather than take public transportation, do squats, lunges, or sit ups during commercial breaks of a tv show, listen to your favorite music and dance, take a couple minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning, or use cleaning as an excuse for exercise.
- Do you have a life purpose? This may be one of the scariest questions to confront because you may feel like your life path has altered your ability to have a purpose. That could not be further from the truth. Each individual life experience you have had has shaped you into someone unique. Your experiences add color to the world but that does not necessarily mean that you have to share that with the world for it have purpose. Consider what types of skills, talents, and passions you bring to the table and turn that into something meaningful for you. Find a hobby. It doesn’t even have to be something your necessarily good at, as long as you enjoy it. Draw, paint, sing, learn to play an instrument, read new books. Do whatever it is that makes you feel whole.
- Do you have ways to manage your stress? Those who are emotionally healthy have ways of navigating the stressors in their life. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine restores the body and regulates mood. Try creating a set time to go to bed and wake up, allowing yourself eight full hours of sleep and stick to it as much as possible. If you are religious/spiritual set aside thirty minutes each day to engage in whatever ways you practice such as reading devotionals, praying, listening to podcast, etc. and take the time to reflect on that experience. There are also 5-10-minute videos online that can aid you in mindfulness practice. Use these when you are stressed and need a moment to center yourself.
While REAL LIFE focuses on Emotional Wellbeing year round, this month in particular, we urge our Lifers and supporters to do extra wellness checks. To ensure self-care is administered. And to ensure a healthy you!