Woohoo! Look at me finish what I started! The last leg of self-care is emotional, and I like to throw mental in there, too, because as stated in WebMD,
So, as I understand, they go hand-in-hand in making sure your emotions are used appropriately. When your mental health is off, say you have depression and/or anxiety, it is difficult to process your daily experiences and attach the appropriate emotion. If your emotional health is off, you might know what emotion you are feeling and that it is proper for the situation, but you might not express it properly.
In order to have proper emotional health, first, you must be able to name your emotions. What are you feeling? I have this emotion wheel on my fridge. It shows a wide range of emotions. Pinning down the broader category, like sadness, can help you narrow down to your exact emotion: lonely, and abandoned.
Once you can name your emotion, you are able to actually able to feel it. I’m gonna be straight up honest here: If you do not feel your big bad emotions, they will not go away. You can stuff them and numb them with substances and bad habits, but they will never go away until you allow yourself to feel them. And here’s the thing: it SUCKS to feel those big bad emotions. You might cry. You might scream. You might punch things. (Non-living things only, please.) (Insert winking emoji.)
Once you are able to feel that emotion, you are able to downgrade it. Anger can become frustration. Frustration can become disappointment. Then that emotion can trickle away.
I heard an analogy from a friend. Sometimes because of life experiences, you may have more big emotions that is safe to process at a time. Think of these emotions sitting in a box on a shelf. When it is time, take down the box and grab one. Don’t look at all of them, don’t shuffle, don’t take them out and look at them. Grab one and put the rest of the box back on the shelf. Work through that one emotion, and when you are done and ready, go back and get another one. This allows those with very traumatic experiences to work through them at a safe pace.
There are a few other things you can do to maintain emotional health. First, surround yourself with a good support system. Get in a support group. Make some good friends that won’t judge you. Get a therapist. (Really. Get a therapist.)
Second, make a list of all the things that can help you work through those emotions. Exercise, talking, mindfulness, sleep, and music are all good tools. I like using essential oils.
This blog post could be a book. So I will end here. But here is what I want you to take from this post:
- Mental health is important for emotional health.
- Name your emotion, then let yourself feel them
- Find a good support system
- Find coping mechanisms that help you feel those emotions.
What are your favorite tools for emotional and mental self care?