Updated: Sep 21, 2021
“Your emotions are like children. They are begging to be mothered and fathered; to be unconditionally loved. Like you as a child, they don’t want to hear that they shouldn’t be the way they are; that they need to be different. They don’t want to be changed. They want to be given permission to be the way they are...to be loved exactly as they are. And we unconditionally love our emotions by being willing to unconditionally feel them.”
– Teal Swan
What is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness is the process of recognizing, understanding, and accepting our emotions. It involves the ability to remain in the present moment and effectively handle change and challenges that come our way.
Having good emotional health does not mean we’re always happy or free from negative emotions. Rather, it is about accepting the range of emotions of the human experience, and knowing and using skills and resources to manage them.
Why is Emotional Wellness Important?
Emotions are an important part of being human, allowing us to experience life in a meaningful way. At some point, many of us learned to bury or avoid our emotions, leading us to disconnect with ourselves and others. The reality is that we have to allow ourselves to feel it to heal it. When we choose to notice and accept our feelings, we can begin to understand why we feel this way and decide how we want to behave in response. Otherwise, our emotions become trapped in our bodies and reveal themselves in unhealthy ways. Focusing on our emotional wellness helps us know ourselves better, while also allows us to connect with others more deeply.
The Route to Emotional Wellness
Become aware of your emotions. Noticing and naming our emotions helps our brains process our experiences by giving more control to the reasoning center of the brain and quieting the activity in the emotional center. If we see the anger, we don’t have to be the anger. Labeling emotions is as simple as saying to yourself, “What is this feeling? Okay, I’m feeling disappointed.”
Moreover, emotions are physical and speak to us through our bodily sensations. Because of this, it is important to listen to our bodies and notice where we’re feeling emotions. For example, do you have a lump in your throat from sadness? Is your face feeling hot with embarrassment? When we observe these sensations, we can fully process our emotional experience.
Accept your emotions. Treating our emotions with curiosity, compassion, and kindness leads to acceptance of ourselves and of others in their emotional experience. This is much more useful than, for instance, being frustrated that you’re feeling sad or anxious. When we can accept our emotions as normal rather than judging them, they have less power over us.
Express your emotions. We need to express our emotions so that we can make sense of them. Since our emotions are physical and embodied, we can use energy from our bodies to free them. Prioritizing emotional expression daily fosters feelings of well-being and helps us connect with our authentic selves. These physical expressions can take many forms, such as crying, hitting a punching bag, or creating artwork.
Build an emotional “toolbox.” When we have a wide range of coping skills in our toolbox, we can choose to respond to stress in ways that are healthy for us. Whether that’s exercise, humor, making a pro-con list, or reaching out to a friend, experimenting with different tools can help us find what helps when feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Balance other dimensions of wellness. All wellness areas are connected and build on one another, so it’s important to engage in activities that will also boost your spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social wellness. Each person is unique in their needs, wants, and abilities, so this looks different for everyone.
Tips for Emotional Wellness
Mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness creates space between a reaction and an action. This space allows us to be present with our emotions, remember our values, and decide how we want to move forward.
Gratitude journal. A gratitude journal gives us a personal space to remember the good things in our lives. When we jot down things for which we are grateful, our brain releases the “feel-good” hormones, i.e. dopamine and serotonin. This betters our mood, helping us to feel optimistic and experience more joy and pleasure.
Find a safe person with whom to share your emotions. Being transparent with a trustworthy person who will listen to what we’re going through often helps us feel less alone in our experience. This is an opportunity to transform a bad feeling into a better one by risking being known and nurtures connection and support.
Remember, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is here for you. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.