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According to acclaimed social scientist Brene Brown, humans are not thinking creatures who just happen to feel. We are emotional, feeling beings who just so happen to think. This definition of people completely reframes the way we think about ourselves, and more importantly, how to take care of ourselves. While it is important to tend to our minds and ensure their safety, the most precious and unique part of any person is their ability to feel. Emotions are extremely powerful tools of self knowledge, connection, and intelligence.

What is emotional wellness?

Just like any other kind of wellness, emotional wellness is the state of being in good emotional health. This includes continuing to actively pursue the goal of maintaining it. Physical health is easy to identify. Science has spent centuries perfecting methods of measuring and scaling different tools to examine and report our bloodwork, bone density, cavities, and more. The list is endless. When science reaches our brains, it gets much more complicated. Emotions are not easily quantifiable or rationalized. It is very tricky to accurately gauge how connected someone is with their own emotions, or how lacking. Good emotional health includes the ability to successfully self-regulate and adapt to changing environments. Those skills require practice and honing, but just like every type of wellness, emotional health can be improved through work.

How can I improve my emotional wellness?

The best ways are by incorporating mindfulness into your routine and practicing reflection. There are an infinite number of ways to increase mindfulness, from sleeping better, eating nutrient dense foods, and even just taking time alone to process your own emotions and gather some perspective. Making time in the day to explore these options will improve your quality of life. When there is a good framework that establishes sanity, the rest will fill in. One example of such a framework is executive function skills. The skills can be a powerful tool in measuring and practicing mindfulness because they include three crucial components of a wellness focused outlook: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Each of these assets is used in emotional regulation, which is a fundamental concept driving emotional wellness. When you control your emotions, you direct your life path into any direction that you see fit. That is the power of self regulation and knowledge.

Why is emotional wellness important?

Emotional wellness is a very direct route to a fulfilling life. There are other important factors, but when a person has achieved a high level of wellness in their internal, emotional life, regular annoyances carry less weight. It becomes easier to not sweat the small stuff, and save your energy to prioritize projects that really matter to you. When you start to believe your emotions, instead of reasoning yourself out of them and feeling bad because of it, you start to develop a superpower: trust. Trust in yourself and your feelings is a very rare and powerful tool, because it is empowering. No more can you be significantly influenced by the opinions of others or the outcomes of events that do not involve you. Like a muscle, practicing emotional health protects you. Getting vaccinated does not stop sickness from entering your immune system, but it prepares you to fight it off, often working so well that you barely notice the symptoms. The same process applies to your emotional state. When people practice responding to stressors or negative stimuli in a positive way, or brushing off the unimportant distractions that depress their mood, their day opens up with energy and time. Suddenly, all of the energy that would have been devoted to maintaining a bad mood or having to deal with the consequences of a failure can be turned into positive, productive energy. The magic of emotional wellness is that it gives you more freedom to be you.

We can’t reason ourselves out of emotions: they define us. Instead, by welcoming in all of the good and bad, we can sort through and determine what is worth keeping, and what does not add any positivity and value to our lives. Knowing and preserving emotional wellness is crucial to living the life you want to lead.