We have many tools these days to keep us moving forward efficiently in our work and family lives. A jam-packed existence is the result of living in the twenty-first century. How many times have you heard a friend, family member, or co-worker say to you, “So, are you keeping busy?”.
Perhaps you have been feeling compelled to be as efficient as possible at work, home, and in your social life. Yet, as you may have discovered, these same endeavors can also wreak havoc on your emotions. When your emotions are destabilized, and especially over a long period of time, this is when illness and dis-ease can set in. So let’s explore this. How can you best take care of your mental state as you strive to live your best life?
Try using these practical strategies to ensure your emotional self is well-cared-for:
Acknowledge your feelings each day. Something as simple as asking yourself, “How do I feel today” can go a long way toward emotional self-care.
- Doing this daily reflection shows you’re aware of your feelings and also indicates you see them as important. Performing a feelings-check ensures you remain in effective control of your emotions.
- There will be fewer incidents of flying off the handle, making sarcastic remarks, or getting annoyed and showing it.
- Stay on top of your feelings to enjoy a more fulfilling life. Journaling is a fabulous way of getting your emotions out in the open to yourself, as well as uncovering hidden thoughts and emotions. This can be incredibly empowering.
- Try not to judge yourself for your feelings. Accept them for what they are, even if they are uncomfortable. Be as honest as you can with yourself about your emotions, and give them expression in some way – give them a voice.
Speak up for yourself when necessary. When you feel you’ve been wronged or misunderstood, simply state your feelings and what you’d like to see happen.
- For example, “I think my remark yesterday about not wanting to drive the four of us on the shopping trip wasn’t clear. What I meant to say was my car will only hold one other person, so I’m unable to accommodate 3 riders. Can you drive instead?” Don’t be afraid of going back to a person or group of people and clarifying your stance on something you may feel have been left unclear.
- When you speak up for yourself, you show yourself that what you think and feel is important enough to be noticed and discussed with those around you. Your sense of self-respect will increase exponentially.
Stay tuned in to close relationships. One thing to avoid is having relationships filled with angst, disappointment, and anger. You can do this by staying in touch with your partner and others you have close relationships with.
- If the relationship is important to you, it’s worth your time and effort to know what’s going on emotionally with the other person. Plus, your emotional life will be more satisfying and peaceful when you do.
- Just as you grow and learn to love your own emotions, remember to breathe with others as you experience their emotions. As time goes on, you will learn to create your own methods for working with others and helping them to feel comfortable with truly expressing themselves around you.
Have some fun each day. When you smile and enjoy life, the benefits to your emotional life are great. Happiness and levity are good for the soul. Enjoy at least some fun each day!
- Engage in your favorite hobbies or tell jokes with your partner.
- Have a chat session with your best friend on the phone.
- Play cards with your neighbors or invite your buddies over and order out.
- Find yourself some adult coloring books, and tap into your creative self.
- Play some of your favorite tunes, play them loud, and have a dance party with your kids.
- Adding to the above idea, try playing fun music that your children enjoy, and add a groovy component to the household chores.
Talk out loud about what troubles you. Whenever you have negative, nagging feelings, they can weigh you down emotionally. Try not to get to the point where you begin feeling consistently upset or acting out emotionally with others.
- Speak to somebody about those challenging feelings. It can be a close friend, your partner, or even a professional if you wish.
- Ensure your work is as low-stress as possible. You have a responsibility to yourself to take whatever steps necessary to adjust your work load, due dates, or other challenges to reduce job stress.
- Trim negative relationships from your life. Because relationships can be so paramount to your existence, it’s wise to ensure they are each as positive and supportive as possible. It can help to occasionally weed out those who stunt our emotional growth or detract from our emotional health.
Suggested Practices from other Guides and Teachers:
One of my favorite ways of tuning into my emotions and giving them ‘voice’ is with somatic practices. The premise behind these practices is that the body is already awake, and you can experience deep self understanding and knowledge simply by getting ‘out of the head’ and putting the body in motion.
There is a fabulous program created by Reginald Ray, called The Practice of Pure Awareness. This program has some wonderful breathing practices to aid you in discovering, uncovering, getting in tune with, and expressing your emotions.
Mark Nepo is another person who has been on a journey of vast depths, exploring many highs and many lows, while discovering the gems within his journey and creating maps for others. Read on for some of his finer words of wisdom:
It’s important to admit that I’m not the same person at sixty-four as when first diagnosed at thirty-six. In my thirties, I was a driven artist, obedient to a relentless muse, while addicted to working in the world for approval. I was a dedicated and loyal friend but mostly inflamed with a vision I couldn’t quite articulate. My understanding of life was way ahead of my ability to live life. So cancer stopped me, humbled me, frightened me, threw me off course, turned me upside down and inside out. I was suddenly on God’s anvil, being hammered and reshaped. And everything that had worked to that point—my dedication, my attention to detail, my perseverance, my certainty in my muse—all of that was shattered and of no use. I was terrified and lost.
As coal is pressed into a diamond, experience presses us into the clear jewel that we are. Difficult as this is, this is the hard-earned way that wisdom appears in the world. And though what’s unearthed here comes from the heat of my journey, the lessons are for everyday living. It’s a law of spiritual nature: that the press of crisis, illness, heartbreak, and grief make visible what’s essential to live. Somehow, our life-giving lessons are more easily seen through the press of difficulty. So much of what we learn and pass on is the residue of more heated times. This is how we preserve what matters. This is how we create medicine out of our suffering.
Your life is a blessing. Try to see the gift and joy in each moment, even the particularly unpleasant moments. Enjoy it to its fullest by taking excellent care of yourself emotionally as well as physically. Use these ideas to experience the enriched existence you desire.