How to practically improve on your emotional and mental wellbeing

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When it comes to our emotional wellbeing, not many of us think we have a definite role to play to influence outcome for our overall good. I think the majority often assumes a victim role of blaming most things and people outside of their control than align with the path of their most control—within—which is their powerful and workable force.

I had similar struggles just few years ago around this. Most of us have been made to believe that we’re mainly victims of circumstances all our lives, and top of it has to do with the reactions to events we might have had no parts in its setup. This makes it tougher accepting that I can play a vital role that has the possibility of transforming my emotional state over matters in the environment that affects my state of wellbeing.

Emotional wellbeing has different definitions by various people, depending on focus point. According to Psychology Today, emotional wellbeing is “the ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.” This is my favourite definition because it shows how we are not helpless about our emotional wellbeing.

If we look closely at this definition, we can see the word, “practice,” which implies our role in “doing” the things or habits that has the possibility of helping us improve on our emotional wellbeing.

Although there are many factors outside of our control that affects us daily in our quest for optimal wellbeing, such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic and it’s resultant effect on economy and other survival things, still, we’re not wholly victims in matters of personal emotional wellbeing and wellness mastery.

One key skill to maximizing your emotional wellbeing is knowing that you have a choice of response to most of life’s events. Even though you might not have any influence on the outside or in it’s occurrence, you do get to choose your response and reactions eventually.

Since emotional reactions are based on the interpretations our brain gives to the events that happens to us, which often sets the pace on how we think or feel about the situation, it means this small space is huge enough to help us out on our state of wellbeing, regardless of what might come our way. Of course, this would involve lots of practice in an emotional growth journey that is primarily non linear.

I am of the opinion that if more people become aware of how our responses to issues and events happening to us is more important than the actual events, may be, we can in a way, have a larger percentage of people experiencing better emotional wellbeing even in moments of crisis. Perhaps, this could help reduce the emotional distresses too many people are experiencing these days.

As a therapist and emotional wellness coach, and having worked with a number of people on this issue of emotional wellbeing and wellness, I’ve found a constant factor in all the clients I’ve worked with: our response to events matters the most! It showed on the magnitude of effect similar events that happened at the same time had on different people.This is always true regardless of the gender or economic status of the person I worked with.

You might be asking yourself right now, how can this knowledge help me?

Become aware that you have some level of control between the stimulus and response time; especially when something that’s debilitating happens to you.

That space between a stimuli and response might be small, yet it makes a huge difference when we maximum it.

To put this in practice would mean to find that space to choose how you want to respond to the situation—it could be a heartbreak, job loss, financial crisis, or triggers from events in the past.

Whatever it is, awakening this consciousness is the helpful start off to your wellbeing. Reacting to events based on fear as a first response is not entirely a bad thing, as long as we are able to get ourselves back together within a short period, and reframe how we see the situation almost immediately. Fear is the idea that there’s a danger happening in the moment. And so our heart rate starts beating faster than normal; our muscles contrast and we’re getting ready to take a flight or freeze move in that moment in our bid to escape from the perceived danger. Even though there might be no actual danger that moment, except that which was perceived.

Again, back to our perceptions of the situation. In real life scenarios, this escape can mean different things—like substance use to numb the uncomfortable feelings, uncontrollable anger or venting at blaming another, indulging in distractions, avoidance or suppression, or anything to run away from the perceived danger.

Unfortunately, these temporary escape routes often worsens the situation because it provides no helpful solution. Humans have always found ways to run from dire situations, not because of the events themselves, but for the discomforting unpleasant emotions that often accompanies the situation. We seem to fear the unpleasant emotions or feelings from uncomfortable issues than the issues themselves.

Reframing the event around the stimulus instigating the emotion is our chance to choose differently on whether this moment deserves a fright, flight or freeze reaction from you. That, is the helpful turning point in the heat of whatever it is we’re going through that moment.This decision time might take very few seconds, usually happening like the speed of light, especially when the issues involves a sense of loss of anything we consider dear to us.Therefore, having been practicing with the little things prior to huge chaotic occurrences can prepare us better ready for the days when our immediate response would be a major factor in split seconds of time.

As with most things in life, these little helpful habits matters a lot especially when it comes to our emotional wellbeing. Our ability to absorb the shock of an event with greater consequences might depend on how we’ve been handling the little day-to-day stressors, and the way we feel about ourselves internally on a day-to-day basis. Some of these seemingly “little” steps such as taking a walk to ease ourselves of tensions after a stressful day; intentionally creating movements around our sedentary lifestyle; talking over the phone with a friend about a tough day; and writing out a gratitude list at the end of a day or a timely consultation with a therapist as part of our emotional wellness goals, goes a long way in contributing a far greater positive responses to our general emotional wellbeing—as well as influencing what we do in the day of reckoning when the most daring situation happen to us.

Most people would rather leave their emotional wellbeing to fate until something drastic happens to force them into action for urgent restoration of internal peace.You don’t need to be like that. It’s too risky a lifestyle to live by. You might not have developed the resilience for that moment to absorb the shock by then since you’ve missed out on the opportunity to practice the right habits over time. Habits take time to develop into lifestyle. So consistent practice is important here, no matter how little. Besides, you might not be lucky enough to learn in the heat of the situation. This is when some, in a bid to escape the “sudden” dire situations, commit suicide or do something drastic that could mess up the state of their mind.

Optimal wellbeing is a big deal when it comes to mental health. And that deal begins with the little things we’re doing daily about our emotional health mastery.

As you become aware of how your response to stressful situations and general life’s events is a critical determining factor to your emotional wellbeing and mental health, it makes it easier for you to maximize reframing your interpretation or perspective of unfortunate events in a way that is more helpful to your overall wellbeing.

Realizing that this takes practice to master sets you up to build the day-to-day habits that would eventually add up for you, especially during the days of adversities.

To your healing.

Joy Iseki.

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