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Published: May, 2016; Vol 12, Num 12

Journey to a Healthier You:

Emotional Wellness: Staying Strong Through Life’s Challenges

By Emily Smith

Our “Journey to a Healthier You” series kicked off this January with a look at the difference between health and wellness. Over the last few months, we’ve looked at many of the eight dimensions of wellness, which are covered in more detail on our Journey to a Healthier You page. This month, we examine emotional wellness.

Connecting Emotional and Physical Wellness

There is also a physical component to emotional wellness. Set yourself up for success and position yourself to be emotionally well by aiming to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night, leading a physically active lifestyle, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and, if you choose to drink, practicing moderation when consuming alcohol.

Emotional wellness is developing awareness, understanding and acceptance of your feelings, effectively managing stress, recognizing your limitations and maintaining a sense of optimism.

Grumpy, happy, sleepy, bashful and dopey are more than just characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; they’re also feelings you may experience every day. A big part of emotional wellness is respecting those feelings and having the ability to calmly and rationally express them.

There’s also a social component to emotional wellness. While emotional wellness focuses on an individual and social wellness focuses on more than one person, the two do influence one another. Examples of this include creating and maintaining satisfying relationships with others, recognizing and appreciating the feelings of others and valuing the support of family, friends and health care professionals.

How emotionally well are you?

An emotionally well person likes and accepts who they are, treats others well, is thankful and appreciative for their loved ones, is in touch with their emotions and finds meaning in their life.

Take a moment to ask yourself the questions below. The answers might provide insight and indicate areas where you can make some improvements.

  • Am I content?
  • How do I feel at this moment? Are most of the attributes that come to mind positive or negative?
  • Am I driving the bus in my own life or am I a passenger, letting someone else determine the course?
  • Do I have healthy and effective strategies to reduce or manage stress in my life?
  • Am I able to make decisions with a minimal amount of worry?
  • Am I able to identify my priorities and juggle family, work, friends, leisure time and other obligations?

Improve and enhance emotional wellness

It’s easier to manage your emotions and put your best foot forward when everything is going according to plan – the traffic lights are all green and you arrive at your figurative or literal destination early or on time. But it’s much more challenging when things don’t go as planned – the traffic lights are yellow or red and you arrive at your figurative or literal destination behind schedule.

Failure, loss, rejection and hardship are inescapable parts of life. So how can you maintain your emotional wellness and show resilience during trying times?

  • Accept your current circumstances and try to learn from them. Be honest and ask yourself, “What was my role in this?”
  • Identify what you do and don’t have control over.
  • Find meaning by re-examining your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Protect your self-worth by brainstorming ways to deal with upcoming challenges and prevent future setbacks.
  • Manage your own life and take responsibility for your actions.
  • Seek help and support from family, friends or health care professionals during times of need.

Though this topic may be out of your current comfort zone, as you travel along the path toward emotional wellness, you will become more aware of your feelings and better at managing the expression of those feelings.

Future articles in the “Journey to a Healthier You” series will explore how to understand and get in touch with your feelings and provide opportunities for improving emotional wellness.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]