Emotional Wellness - What?

Photo by Robert Daly/OJO Images / Getty Images
Photo by Robert Daly/OJO Images / Getty Images

Nowadays you hear the words “Wellness” and “Resiliency” a lot, but what do they really mean? If I get up and get the kids to school and make it to the gym am I resilient? Do I have wellness? Yes, but it’s more than that.
Emotional wellbeing suggests that we are doing more than coping.  

We are comfortable in our own skin, or even thriving.

I can hear what you’re thinking… “I have so much to do, I don’t have time to add ‘stress management’ to my ‘to do’ list.” Of course we live busy lives and constantly have to manage the real world challenges that face us, but we can do some little things to make our lives better.  

For example, as silly as it sounds, we can choose to look on the bright side. Whether you look at the things that are happening from a pessimistic or optimistic point of view is really up to you. You can expect that the day will go badly and focus on all the things that you don’t like. And the day will be bad. Or you can make a different choice. Same day, nothing really different, but you add a little focus on the “sweet spots” that happen as you go along and it’s not so bad. Recognizing even the little things like the smell of hot coffee as you take your first wake up sip, is a way to take a second out of the grind (love the pun) and breathe in the moment.

The big blessings are easy to name and remembering them really does help us feel good; count them too. For example, “I’m lucky I have good friends, a loving partner, kids, a roof over my head…). Almost more important, try to find the little things, nano-moments, that make you feel good and breathe them in. Be present in that moment. Even for a second, it can feel like an escape. Like when you’re walking into the store and they’ve just baked fresh bread. Stop, take a deep breath and feel how good it smells. Maybe even let yourself go with a fantasy of being on vacation and having coffee and fresh baked rolls at a cute little Bed and Breakfast.  

How we think is really based on a pattern of thoughts, a habit. Habits are hard to change, but they can be changed. How? In this case the simplest way to start shifting your thinking is to catch yourself saying or thinking something negative and then immediately say, “… but, aren’t I lucky that ____ .” Fill in the blank with the good things that are also true about your life at that moment. Clearly this doesn’t change the reality of the situation. Rather, it balances our perception and makes things feel more doable. 

I confess, it’s a mind game. But either way, you are playing a mind game because choosing to focus only on the stress/negative is also a game. So, since you’re going to play one game or the other, I recommend it be the game that will make you feel better.  

And let’s be real – even if you are the most optimistic person in the world, “stuff” happens and you’re going to have feelings about it. Using these tricks doesn’t mean that you are going to feel good all the time. Rather, if we are taking care of ourselves as we go through the day we will be less rocked by the “stuff” that comes.  

Finally, SMILE, even if you don’t feel like it. Believe it or not, when you smile people smile back and then soon you are smiling too.