Author: Shannon Traphagen Write Life Media and Game On Glio Podcast Host
Putting a spotlight on “World Mental Health Day” helps remind us of the importance of self-care.
Mental and emotional health is as vital as the oxygen we breathe. Mental health doesn’t just encompass depression, bi-polar, narcissism, schizophrenia etc… It also includes anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD, trauma related sadness, low self-esteem and even grief.
In an ideal world, everyone would have the ability to care for their emotional well-being and navigate life’s challenges. However, maintaining emotional wellness is sometimes easier said than done, especially when life’s challenges are immense.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve struggled with anxiety and honestly–low self esteem (when I was younger). I was bullied a lot in school and even dealt with workplace bullying. For a long time, whenever intense feelings of fear, worry, or feelings of inadequacy came up, I didn’t know what to do with those feelings. I didn’t know how to process what those feelings were or where they were coming from. It took many years of study (a Master’s degree in Social Work-trauma along with other degrees, LOL), an arsenal of tools in my toolkit, and a solid group of close family and friends (that would always be there without judgement) to find my voice, my confidence, and my inner strength.
Over time I grew to understand the root of where my anxiety and fear came from and created strength from all that I learned. It meant truly getting to know me and not being afraid of the things I had been afraid of. As a woman, it can be very hard to balance emotional wellness with all that life throws at us, and then top that off with workplace issues, “mean” girls, and hormones! It can be a lot. But even before I met my late husband, I felt firm on my own two feet and was proud of where I stood.
Let’s fast forward to a global pandemic, becoming a primary caregiver, my husband’s death, miscarriages, adoption loss, dog loss, a friend’s death, and now a family member battling breast cancer. Well, emotional wellness is top of mind to say the least. But when people ask me how I’m coping with it all, how I’ve been able to turn pain into purpose, how I find happiness, I tell them it’s everything I learned when I was younger. Maintaining consistency with emotional well-being (and my faith) has gotten me to where I am today. Basically everything I feared happened anyway. What does that tell me? It tells me that we can’t control what’s thrown at us in life, but we can control how we decide to cope with it.
Battle scars are just nature’s way of showing us how strong we truly are–this goes for all human beings; men, women, teenagers, kids, caregivers.
Today I am an independent woman, a strong woman, a widowed woman, a true friend, a sister, a daughter, a dog mom, a strong patient advocate, a woman with values, a woman with fight, a woman with purpose and meaning, a woman that values mental and emotional health and wellness, a woman of love, and a woman of devotion to those in my life.
Mental Wellness benefits physical health
Emotional health can mean different things to different people, but some common factors might include:
- Low levels of stress
- Beneficial social and/or romantic relationships
Like other forms of wellness, many benefits of emotional health come from consistency. When you can maintain emotional health, you may set yourself up to have healthy habits as you age.
For example, developing the practice of constructively handling stress can increase your likelihood of leading a low-stress life. Over time, a positive snowball effect may develop where you can subconsciously maintain your continued emotional health pattern–even during challenging life circumstances. In other words, our continuous actions in the present can and often do become the habits of tomorrow.
We can’t control what life throws at us, but we can stand tall, ride the wave in without fighting it, and embrace ourselves with love, kindness, humbleness, imperfection, modesty, and tenderness. Love yourself in all that you are, no matter what journey you are on right now.
Tips to Increase Emotional Wellness
➡Find healthy ways to handle stress.
Stress and challenges is a part of life. Still, how you handle stress can potentially impact your emotional wellness. By learning to respond to stress constructively, you might be able to improve your emotional health.
Walking, exercise, getting a pet, meditation, acupuncture, tapping into a passion (art, martial arts, dance, hiking, etc), journal how you are feeling, eating healthy balanced meals; these are all great ways to handle stress and create a more emotionally well balanced life.
However, this may be easier said than done. Many individuals can benefit from working with a mental health professional to find the best coping mechanisms and tools to help. Identifying areas of concern, like depressive episodes, should be discussed with a professional. It’s ALWAYS ok to seek help.
➡The company you keep is also important.
People can lift you up or drag you down. Some of us might be able to determine the quality of our company and its impact on our emotional health by considering how we feel when they’re around us. Do you feel happier and experience a better mood after spending time with your friends or family? Or do you feel negative, drained, or relieved when they’re gone? Do you feel strong and hopeful? Or, do you get nervous (in a bad way) when you are with them, and feel anxious?
If the latter rings true for you, you may need to consider what you value and the circle of people you want to maintain relationships with.
➡ Live a balanced life
A balanced life means different things to different people. But, whatever it means for you, your emotional health and wellness can significantly improve when your life feels balanced.
Finding balance can often be a matter of weighing our values and putting the appropriate energy into each one. For example, suppose you value family life more than participating in community events. In that case, you might find happiness by placing more effort into spending time doing activities with your family and less time doing things to benefit your homeowner’s association or neighbors.
For most of us, this isn’t something we can achieve overnight. Finding balance may require time and consistency. If you believe certain aspects of your life lack balance, speaking with a mental health professional might help you discover ways you can begin to prioritize your values.
Certain life challenges can complicate reaching or maintaining a state of emotional health. Despite what you may be facing, you’re not alone. Help, support, and resources are available. You have the right to know your options and determine which path is best for you.
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