Wellness Series Part 2: Emotional
There are many different models of wellness, most of which contain at least 6 aspects of wellness. The most common ones are: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental. In this series, we are focusing on the physical and emotional aspects of wellness. We already delved into physical wellness, so we’ll dive into emotional wellness for part 2.
Emotional wellness involves being in touch with your emotions, learning how to handle stress, relaxing, and reducing stress. With optimal emotional wellness, you can learn how to develop and use strategies to help you grow from experiences and turn them into something positive.
Food and its effect on emotions
Considering that wellness is not limited to just one aspect of life, each element of wellness interacts with one other. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and attain optimal physical wellness, you must also strive for optimal emotional wellness. Many people use eating as a coping mechanism for emotional turmoil, and without learning how to deal with those emotions in a healthy way, it will be very difficult to reach your physical goals.
Coping and emotional eating are not the only way food affects our emotions. The food we consume is fuel for our body AND our brain. While the study of how nutrition affects brain function is still a relatively new field, we can see that, “Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”¹
Diets high in refined sugars and processed foods have been shown, by multiple studies, to impair brain function and increase the symptoms of mood disorders and depression. This connection shouldn’t be surprising: “If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected.”
Here are some tips to help you achieve your optimal emotional wellness:
Discover your specific stress triggers
If there are certain things in your life that you know are going to cause you unnecessary stress, try to find a way to improve the situation. Is the trigger something that is absolutely necessary in your life? If not, it’s ok to move on. If it’s unavoidable, try to focus on the positives.
Get in touch with your thoughts and feelings
Sometimes we may feel an emotion and react in a negative way without fully understanding why we feel that way, and why we reacted that way. It’s ok to have feelings and it’s ok to express them, but we must tune into ourselves and take the time to understand.
Seek and provide support
It’s completely fine to ask for help if you need it! You can find support in many different ways: professional therapy, peer support groups (in person or online), time spent with loved ones…just find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try something new.
Learn how to manage your time
A lot of stress in life can actually be avoided if you take the time to plan and manage your time. This also ties into physical wellness – it can take a lot of effort to eat healthy (meal planning and prep) and to exercise. But with careful planning and time management you might be surprised how much you can achieve in a day or week!
Practice stress management techniques
Figure out what can help you manage stress in a time of need. Try different things like yoga, prayer, or meditation until you find something that really works for you. If you can manage stress as it comes up, you’re well on your way towards optimal emotional wellness.
Be positive and optimistic
While we can’t choose our feelings, we can control our thoughts. If we make an effort to be positive and think optimistically, our emotions will match. Try listening to motivational and positive podcasts or reading good news articles for an extra boost of positivity.
Accept yourself for who you are and forgive yourself
We all make mistakes and we’re all imperfect, but the goal isn’t to focus on past mistakes. Rather, we can learn from them and strive to be better.
Eat a clean diet
While this may sound like something that’s for physical, not emotional wellness, eating a clean diet is vital for both! Try cutting out all processed foods and refined sugar for just 2 weeks, and you’ll notice how much better you feel. Remember that sometimes you don’t fully realize how bad you have been feeling, until you feel better – it’s like a weight being lifted off.
Wellness is an active pursuit. It’s ok to have setbacks as long as you continue moving forward. The more you learn about wellness, the more you will see how all of the facets work together and will lead you to being a happier and healthier you!