Good emotional wellbeing means taking care of your feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It’s about feeling positive with your relationships, with your day to day life, with your career, etc. In order to feel positive, there are some steps you need to take:
Step 1: Schedule time to worry
There are so many things going on in our lives that many of us spend so much time worrying every day, whether it’s about work, deadlines, relationships, household duties, etc. We leave little time to live in the present and to be productive. You might think that it’s impossible to stop worrying, but in fact, just a little self-control can go a long way. What can you do? Worry Time! Well, by allowing yourself some time to JUST WORRY, you can give yourself a break during the day. Schedule 30 mins of your day to worry time where you just sit in one place and go through each of the items on your worry notes. Throughout the day you can note down your worries (often we worry that we won’t have enough time to worry, so by noting it down, we know we will come back to it). Remember to schedule an activity after the 30 mins, to ensure that you do not go over your allocated worry time (if you find yourself going over the allocated time, schedule an activity with a friend so that you are sure to step out of worry time). Over time, you’ll find yourself worrying less during the day, because you know you’ve got time to worry later. You may even find that the things you were worrying about don’t need to be worried about anymore, in which case, you may have some free time during your day. Use this free time as an opportunity for self-care.
Step 2: Identify your feelings
Understanding feelings is a concept that is difficult to master. Feelings normally arise from our thoughts or difficult situations life throws at us. We react to our feelings more than we take the time to understand and process them. Most people don’t know exactly what they are feeling at a certain point – they either feel something positive or something negative. When feeling positive, they enjoy it but occasionally still find something within that positive experience to worry about. When feeling negative, we often don’t know what we’re feeling negative about and so begin attempting to make ourselves feel better. In this way, we never really process what we are feeling, we just react to it in the moment. Learning how to identify what you are feeling means that you will respond appropriately, accepting the positive and negative, then moving forward.
Step 3: Is this emotion an enemy or a friend?
Now that the feeling has been identified, acknowledge this feeling as helpful or unhelpful. Remember: negative feelings doesn’t mean unhelpful and positive ones, helpful. It could be the case that you are sad as someone close to you might be moving abroad. Negative feelings here could be worry about being lonely without this person, doubt, fear, etc. These negative feelings are appropriate in this situation and are natural feelings for a loved one. However, its important that these feelings are communicated properly to be acknowledged as helpful, otherwise it may come across as unhelpful. If you are sad this person is leaving and you communicate that you will miss them, and you have these worries, they will appreciate your feelings as they come out of love. If these feelings were not communicated and instead were displayed with avoidance and anger, then it is unhelpful. Learn how to identify the emotions and classify them – “is what I’m feeling helpful or unhelpful?”
Step 4: Boost your mood!
Emotional wellbeing has a lot to do with your mood. Your feelings also fluctuate based on your mood and vice versa. What can you do for yourself here? Well, if you find yourself worrying everyday before work or school, then take some time in the mornings to boost your mood. Find something that works for you – what do you enjoy doing? Examples could be cooking – then wake a little earlier and make a healthy breakfast in the mornings; it could be drawing – spend 10 minutes every morning drawing; it could be exercise – go for a 10 minute run in the mornings. If you are unsure of what boosts your mood, experiment with different activities and see which works best for you.
Step 5: Embrace discomfort
What do you do as soon as you begin feeling uncomfortable – run, hide? Most of us do this. Imagine you didn’t and instead you let yourself feel uncomfortable and waited for the discomfort to run and hide. You anchored yourself down and embraced the situation for what it is. You’d flourish! For example, you may struggle with talking in front of a crowd – now if you run and hide, the discomfort is winning, but if you become an anchor and stay, you’re winning. It may not be great the first time, but honestly, nothing is perfect the first time. You remain an anchor and in this way you will become increasingly resilient.