8 Ways to Help You Maintain Emotional Well-Being
During this unprecedented time, when emotions are confusing and stress seems to be the new normal, it is important to keep in mind that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being. Here are 8 ways to help you maintain and navigate your emotional wellness.
Develop Your Support Team
Taking care of yourself emotionally as well as physically are top priorities. While you won’t be able to see your “team” in person, you can gather people together online to create a new community. You can also do this via text or email. This is your unofficial group of people who provide emotional support and friendly reminders that you’re each doing the best you can. Whatever challenges you face, ask for help from them and seek support. If you can set up weekly “check-ins” with each other or if there are important decisions to make, they will be there for you and you won’t feel alone.
Create a pause zone.
For some of you, merely opening an email means glancing at an invoice, insurance policy, or something related to finances. These statements can be very overwhelming. Unless it is absolutely necessary for you to pay (such as your utilities or groceries) think about giving yourself a “pause zone”. During this time of uncertainty, you may make a financial decision under stress that you later regret. And if you truly don’t understand something, like refinancing, or trust the financial advice you’re receiving, it is important to get another opinion.
Take stock of your emotions.
Any type of change can involve a transition. For example, the change is working from home, and the transition is learning how to transform your mind-set to accommodate a new schedule. With this, it is important to figure out when and how you can get your best work done. If taking frequent breaks interrupts work flow, then try putting your phone on silent until you can complete a task. If you start to feel anxiety, check in with yourself and try to determine if it is because of the task you’re asked to do or is it because you’re doing the same task but in a new environment (at home)? When you recognize why you’re experiencing certain emotions, it will help you to have more compassion for yourself.
Develop and write down a health plan.
Anxiety often comes from the fear of the unknown and feeling that you don’t have control. So, spend a few minutes actually putting together a plan should you or your loved one start to feel ill. Write down the name of the doctor or locate the nearest medical center ahead of time (if you’re traveling) of where you will go. List your medications, so everything is in one place. Should you start to feel sick, write down the symptoms you are experiencing and the duration (of them).
Then, when you’re with the doctor, share your symptoms list so you won’t miss anything. And when your worried friend asks why you are traveling or if you’re afraid of getting sick, you can say, “I’ve thought of that, and I have a plan in place.” Have confidence in your plan. Be open to feedback but only to that which is helpful—not unduly critical.
If it is age appropriate, you can tell your children that you’ve thought about COVID-19, and you don’t want them to worry because you’ve put a family health plan together. This will give them confidence and a feeling of safety knowing you’re in charge of their wellness.
Keep in mind what you can control.
You do have control over the one significant thing that the CDC says can protect you from COVD-19: hand washing. You also can control your reactions to someone’s emotions. You can control how you feel about doing a task. You can control where and how often you check the CDC website, or where you’re getting your information from, or how often you’re on social media.
Set up three small self-care actions.
Now is an ideal time to read that book you’ve put aside or reach out to a friend (by cell, not in person) and have an authentic chat. In addition, there are various things, like yoga, planks, or mediation which will help you feel grounded in well-being instead of sinking in chaos. Remember, it can be small things, like reading a chapter in a book, doing sit-ups and eating a healthy snack that can be part of your self-care. If you can do three self- care action each day that enhance your well- being it will give you a feeling of success.
Get a gratitude buddy.
Gratitude is a very powerful emotion and when combined with other well-being practices (such as meditation or prayer) can be impactful. Even writing a few things down that you’re grateful for can shift your attention onto something that makes you happy. Get a “gratitude” buddy. Make a plan to send each other three things each day that you’re grateful for and if you’re really up for a challenge, try doing three different things each day. After a week, you’ll have 21 different things you’re grateful for.
Practice self compassion.
We’re in a high stress situation and mistakes can happen because you’re feeling on edge. When it happens, instead of berating yourself, give yourself grace. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can do. You can repeat a mantra, like, “I’m choosing to be calm,” “I’m practicing kindness,” or “I’m choosing to do the next right thing.” Treating yourself with compassion will help you feel empowered to choose your next steps with a sense of calmness.
Seek Professional Mental Health Services
If you find your fears are disabling and preventing you from working or being able to keep up with your daily responsibilities, you should contact your doctor. They may recommend you seek professional therapy. Many mental health professionals, like myself, do work remotely, so you won’t need to worry about a commute. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It can help you discern what actions and next steps are healthy for you.
This essay was featured in the March 22nd edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.