Emotional stresses in life can cause a myriad of physiological symptoms. Undue stress aggravates chronic illness, taxes the nervous system and other bodily systems including the circulatory and digestive system. In order to cultivate our physical health, we also must work to cultivate our emotional health and our emotional response to stress.
Emotions versus Feelings
Often times, there can be confusion for people differentiating emotions from feelings and word to the wise - they are two different animals all together. Emotions are an unconscious expression often triggered by past experiences, common emotions can be inappropriate joy, fear, abandonment, and anger. Feelings are a bodily felt sense and a conscious expression, for example telling a loved one how you feel about them. Our end goal in differentiating between triggering emotions and conscious feelings is to make our day to day interactions and stresses less reactive and more proactive - thus less stressful. As we work toward cultivating emotional and thus physical health, we need to create a strong foundation onto which we can build.
Know Your Needs
Be specific and write these down. Do this on a regular basis.
Needs can change from day to day and moment to moment. Create regular check-ins with yourself and make sure you know what your needs are. These may be as simple as:
- Eat 3 healthy meals a day
- Get 8 Hours of Sleep
- Connect with my Partner Daily
Needs will vary from person to person, but starting with the basics is a wonderful starting point to building your Emotional Foundation.
Reach Out to Your Essential Others
Your ‘Essential Others’ - these are other essential people in your life. They may be spouses, children, close friends, spiritual leaders or community members. These are people that are in essential relationships with you that need to be cultivated, cared for and maintained. Reach out to your ‘Essential Others’ and get to know what their needs are. Begin a dialogue of direct communication and how you can meet each other's needs or compromise on ways to grow your relationship in a healthy and productive way.
Create Resilience and Strength
Even with a strong foundation, life will surely throw you curve balls. It is during these pain points that we are being called to do further emotional or spiritual work. Ask yourself certain questions to deepen your understanding of yourself and those around you:
- What lessons can be learned from this situation?
- How can I get back closer to equilibrium?
- What specific steps do I need to take?
- How have my needs and those of my ‘essential others’ changed ?
Emotional health can be a struggle for many and building a strong foundation and resilient mindset can be deeply rewarding on many levels. But remember it is a practice that takes time and effort to cultivate.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their emotional health there are many great local resources. Contact your healthcare provider today for an appropriate referral.