Creating Space for Emotional Health
Updated: May 20, 2019
This past January my sister, Sarah Pedersen, and I spoke at a breakout at the CFW Women’s Breakfast. A lot of women enjoyed this breakout, so I wanted to dedicate a blog post with the notes from that breakout so that those who couldn’t attend could still have the information we made available and have this serve as another reminder for those who heard it the first time around.
Defining Emotional Health:
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships (Family Doctor).
Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to monitor and manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviors AND they can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own (Family Doctor).
Emotional health is reached when you learn to accept yourself, especially in those instances where you make mistakes and encounter setbacks in life.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Research shows that if your emotional health suffers, so will your physical health. People with good emotional health are able to find a balance in their life between leisure, activity and work (Family Doctor). According to the CDC, higher levels of well-being are linked to lower risk of disease, illness and injury, speedier recoveries, a better-functioning immune system, longer life and more productivity at work (Positive Psychology Program).
Not only is this important for your actual physical health, but it also is important for our spiritual lives as well. In this life we are going to have so many moments that will stress us out, push us to our breaking point and even break us down completely. If we don't take time to recharge our spirit we will become hardened to the world around us. Some verses that are helpful in keeping the mindset of health are:
2 Corinthians 4:16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
1 Peter 5:6-7: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Practical Ways to Establish and Maintain Emotional Health:
Having this information is great, but a lot of times when we are in the midst of needing help we just want something practical that we can put into place in order to escape or repair our current situation. Below are some excellent ways to practically establish and maintain emotional health in your life:
Have a great support system / Connect with other people.
This is a BIG one for me. Whenever I went through a miscarriage a year ago I had NO idea how to navigate it or even understand what it all meant for me. I remember feeling horrible that I had to go back and tell everyone that I had already told we were pregnant that I had lost the baby and I regretted telling anyone in the first place…but then something amazing happened. My community SHOWED UP in the biggest way possible. They bought me flowers, made me and Nick’s favorite foods, got us spa relaxation gifts, prayed for us, invited us to their house to play games and just get away from the situation…and believe it or not, it changed my life. They didn’t have the perfect words to say and they couldn’t make the situation better, I mean losing a baby is losing a baby…period. But they made me feel human again and made me feel loved in one of the saddest moments in my life. They changed the way I look at that moment in time and I healed because of them.
I feel like my generation is the one who is shouting this from the rooftops all the time…but they are doing it because its important. In life we tend to neglect our needs, especially in times of high stress. Hardly ever have I caught myself taking a significant amount of time in a day to assess what my needs are and fulfill them for myself - and thats sad. Believe it or not, you have a limit to what you can handle and when you reach that limit your body and your mind begin to shut down. Practicing Self-Care may sound like millennial fantasy, but it truly is so important. When you take time to REALLY look at what you need (emotionally, physically, and mentally) I think you will be surprised at how doing a small task to take care of yourself can change your whole outlook on your current situation. For some ideas on activities you can do for self-care check out this website: https://tiaharding.com/41-self-care-ideas-for-depression-and-anxiety/ or just google “Self-Care” and you will be SHOCKED at how much pops up!
Setting Realistic Expectations
As women (and people in general) we tend to over exert ourselves or constantly put pressure on ourselves to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW! We have to have the house perfectly clean, the dishes done, the laundry folded, the budget perfect, the kids lunches packed, the stuff for work competed to perfection, the lawn mowed, the baby’s room perfectly decorated, the family pictures taken, the dogs trained…..AGHHHHHHH!! The list is endless. Can I give you some freedom though?….you’re not perfect…and sometimes, the dishes don’t need to get done. Someone told me that last year and to be completely honest, it changed my perspective on how I handle life stress as a whole. There are so many things to prioritize and we naturally build up expectations of what life should look like in our head and all it truly does is stress us out. So, when you get to a point where you are stressing about making life perfect for everyone around you… just remember that its okay to have a sink full of dishes. Its okay for the laundry to pile up. Its okay not to be perfect and have everything together cause NO ONE does…not truly. Take time to rest and take care of yourself.
I know this blog post was a lot longer than a lot of the other ones we have done in the past, but the reason why it’s so long is because it’s truly important. Emotional / Mental Health is so undervalued in the busyness of life and family and we need to take more time to add value to it for us to be fully-functioning people.
The last thing we did in our break-out was give out a “Challenge Sheet” to everyone who wanted one. These challenges are not intended to stress you out even more than you already are, but are there as a practical way to get you to take one small step towards recognizing and prioritizing your emotional Health. We challenged the ladies to do just ONE challenge for a week. If you can’t do it a whole week, don’t worry about it! Again, these are designed not to guilt you into anything but to show you that taking care of your Emotional Health can be easier than you think. So try one of these out and see how it changes your week. I think you’ll like it!
“Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health.” Familydoctor.org, 27 July 2017, familydoctor.org/mental-health-keeping-your-emotional-health/.
“Nurture Your Emotional Health.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/latest-news/nurture-your-emotional-health.html.
“What Is Emotional Health and What It Is Not.” Positive Psychology Program - Your One-Stop PP Resource!, 21 Apr. 2019, positivepsychologyprogram.com/emotional-health-definition-mike-oppland/.