People often underestimate the importance of self-care — except not those with good emotional health. Here are some techniques to help you practice self-care.
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Self-care is often viewed as a luxury. When you even mention the term, people imagine elaborate spa days, hair wraps and cucumber masks, and expensive manicures and pedicures. In reality, though, those with good emotional health know that the key to feeling well is investing in your own self-care. Self-care is really a holistic avenue for maintaining mental health. But if you've never been good at self-care, it can feel unnatural to know how to check in with yourself, determine what you're feeling, and hone in on what you need in the moment.
Luckily, there are some tips you can follow to help ensure you are showing up for yourself. Not only will the following guide help you determine how to zero in on your emotions so you can gauge how you are doing, but it will also give you tips for self-care so you can master your wellness just like those with good emotional health who have learned to meet their own needs.
How to Check In With Yourself to Know How You Feel
The first step to making sure you are okay is truly knowing how you feel. Those with good emotional health understand how they feel in the moment because they can tune into their body and access what is going on inside them. Many of us who are busy, stressed, grieving, or traumatized, or were simply never taught about emotional health, can be really disconnected from our bodies. When we're not tuned into ourselves, we're likely to continue harmful behaviors or other things that are hurting us because we don't actually realize that they are.
One important part of self-care is regularly checking in with yourself to make sure you know how you feel. Here are some techniques for regularly doing self-check-ins so you're aware of anything that needs attention or care in your life.
Learn to Meditate
Mindfulness meditation teaches you to observe yourself. Rather than attach to your thoughts or feelings, it teaches you to sit in silence and simply observe what happens to you. While it can take a while, eventually, those who practice meditation will be able to simply observe a thought as it passes. And they can identify what thoughts may be causing certain feelings inside of them — and why they're hanging onto that thought.
Meditation is a key technique for figuring out why you feel what you feel, and it's also a great strategy for calming yourself down when you're upset. Those with good emotional health often meditate regularly and have better control over their mental and emotional reactions.
Sit down every morning or evening with a journal or notebook and let your thoughts flow out of you. You don't need to censor yourself. Journaling is simply an opportunity to let the thoughts in your brain out onto a page. Often, merely the fact of writing them down lessens their power and helps you deal with them more easily.
Studies have shown journaling to be an important practice for those with good emotional health. Try to start a regular journaling practice, and write just one line a day if you feel daunted by the idea of writing anything long. You'll notice that you'll feel lighter getting just one line down — and once you're used to a short journal entry, you can slowly expand over time.
Spend Time Alone Daily
It might seem impossible if you have a family, but try to spend some time alone every day — even if you have to go inside your closet and sit in silence with your coffee for five minutes every morning. Going somewhere quiet where it's just you allows you to access your thoughts. This can be especially helpful if you live in a bustling, busy household where you don't have a minute to think.
Just learning how to identify emotions and markers of mental health? Those with good emotional health have an understanding of what mental health means and how to identify emotions that are problematic. They also recognize that others are simply healthy feelings that will appear and pass. Start learning about the basics of mental health in order to ensure you're caring for yours. Once you've learned to check in with yourself and understand a range of feelings, you'll be on the path to ensuring that you feel well more of the time.
Tips for Addressing a Variety of Stressors
Stress is ubiquitous in today's society, thanks to the pace of life, the presence of a pandemic, and a constant barrage of news via digital sources. But constant stress is dangerous for your body. Not only does it make you feel unpleasant, but it also comes with a host of negative hormones that can eventually wreak havoc on your body. These hormones include adrenaline, cortisol, and more. If you feel stressed in life, consider the following de-stressors regularly used by those with good emotional health. They can help reduce the stress in your body and impact both your physical and mental well-being.
Exercise for an Overloaded To-do List or Depression
It might feel hard, and it might hurt, but did you know that exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress and depression? If you're extremely busy, exercise can help you blow off steam from going full speed all day long. Exercise also boosts dopamine in your brain, so if depression is spurring the stress you feel, it may be just the thing to lift you out of a funk or fog.
Meditate for Anxiety and Relational Stress
Sometimes, our worries cause stress in our life. Alternatively, relationships with those we love may cause us stress. To truly calm anxiety and improve stress that is somewhat nebulous (and not concrete like a work to-do list), meditation is key — and that's why we've mentioned it twice in this guide.
Meditation requires you to sit in silence and observe what you're thinking.
If you meditate, you may learn you are causing some of your own stress and worry by latching onto random thoughts or by attaching to a thought and refusing to let go of it. Meditation helps calm and quiet your brain. It helps you realize that you are not your thoughts and that your thoughts aren't real, just because you think them. Overall, meditation can help you learn to let go of worry and live in the present moment.
Talk It Out
No matter the kind of stress, if you feel you don't know how to deal with it on your own, a great resource is a therapist. Talk therapists are trained professionals who can help people with mental health issues. They have extensive knowledge of coping mechanisms, and they can teach you great ways to cope with your stress if you can't determine where it's coming from or how to relieve it to feel better day to day.
When to Seek the Help of a Professional
So you've tried exercise and meditation — but when do you know you also need therapy? Therapy can be for anyone, whether you are extremely stressed or just trying to deal with one distressing, temporary issue. Therapy can help you hone in on lifelong patterns that interfere with your functioning and change them so you can thrive. Those with good emotional health often stay in therapy regularly for the long term. So, you don't need to be in severe circumstances to seek out a therapist. Simply ask yourself if you want help feeling better, and if the answer is yes, go ahead and seek out the help of a counselor.
Therapy is an excellent way to help manage your emotional help if you need some extra guidance for providing yourself self-care or you need someone experienced to help talk you through issues you've been struggling to manage. Forget the stigma around mental healthcare, and reach out to a therapist in your area. A professional will be able to provide you treatment, or they can refer you to someone who specializes in your issues to ensure you're being helped by just the right person.