The phrase “emotional well-being” typically brings up pleasant associations such as excitement, happiness, love, and acceptance. However, how we handle the unpleasant feelings we experience is actually the most significant indicator of our emotional well-being.
According to Psychology Today, the definition of emotional well-being is “the ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.”
Many people confuse emotional and mental well-being. Mental well-being, or mental health, is influenced by many factors including biological, psychological, social, and environmental ones. This includes things like:
- living conditions
- discrimination & violence
- community connectedness
- social acceptance and participation
- access to economic resources
The components of emotional health are also contributors to mental well-being. These are individual factors involved in emotional regulation, such as the ability to cope with stressors as well as communication and social skills needed to maintain connection with others.
This can be defined as lifestyle and behavior choices that ensure good health and reduce risk of preventable diseases and conditions while promoting a balanced state of mind, body, and spirit.
While each of these forms of well-being can be defined separately, it is clear that they are all interconnected. Emotional well-being in particular is about accepting and expressing feelings in a way that can help maintain positive mental and physical health.
How to stay in tune with and improve your emotional well-being
1. Learn how to address stress appropriately
Yoga, walking/exercising, deep breathing, meditation, and connecting with friends are among many healthy and comforting stress-relief techniques. These differ depending on the situation. For instance, if you’re at work and something stressful happens with your boss, it may not be possible for you to pull out your yoga mat and do some poses.
In situations where you have fewer coping strategies available, consider going inward using your senses to relieve stress. instance, this can include:
- Listening to your favorite or otherwise soothing music
- Looking at a favorite photo
- Thinking about an enjoyable memory
- Smelling a favorite essential oil or comforting scent
- Taking a long deep breath or use the box breathing technique to reset
2. Build your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize, understand and use your emotions in a positive way to cope with stress and help manage relationships/communicate effectively in times of conflict. This is critical for your overall emotional well-being. For example, this can be divided into four forms:
- Self-awareness – recognize your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations and their impact on others
- Self-management – control or redirect negative or disruptive impulses and adapt to certain situations
- Social-awareness – consider the feelings of others and understand context of certain situations
- Relationship management – negotiate emotions in order get along with others
3. Practice mindfulness regularly
Being present is critical to developing emotional intelligence. So, finding a way to recognize where you sit within these four categories in any given situation will help you develop coping strategies.
Did you know that a regular mindfulness practice can actually help rewire your brain to respond to things in a healthier manner? For example, this can come in the form of long and short meditations or even just in maintaining presence in what you’re doing. (For example, when doing the dishes, simply think about doing the dishes and not the growing list of other things you also need to be doing.) As a result, you’ll get better at your mindfulness practice.
4. Consider keeping a mood diary
Many things can affect our mood, from eating something that causes a blood sugar spike to seeing something that triggers a specific emotional response. As a result of a food diary, collecting information with regularity over time can allow for patterns to emerge which can help you change certain behaviors and/or anticipate your emotional responses.
5. Welcome all emotions
Many people fear negative emotions. We are often taught that these are not okay to experience and that we should hide them. Rather, accepting these as natural and healthy is critical to developing emotional well-being.
6. Make sure to dedicate time to things you enjoy
Many people have so many obligations in life that they do not feel they have time to do the things that bring them joy. Prioritizing this not only helps you maintain positive emotional well-being, it can also help you be more productive by giving your mind and body a reprieve from stress.
7. Find support
Having adequate support is important. So confiding in trusted friends, family, a therapist or support group can help in managing your emotional well-being.