Emotional well-being is paramount to being able to handle the stresses of life and adapt to the difficulties and changes that inevitably come along. Mental and physical health depend on our emotional wellness and there are so many ways we can help ourseleves in this area.
We hear a lot about “self care” and the importance of emotional well-being, but rarely we talk about the practical (and rather easy) things we can do, that will help to increase our mood and emotional well-being. Just last weekend I ran an activity for the women at my church, where we sampled and discussed some of these ways (via short 20 minute workshops) and it was such a boost and joy for all who came.
I feel that emotional well-being and mental health is so important for all ages, and so here are just 7 easy ways (there are loads more) that you can – on a day to day basis – help to boost yours.
Exercise is a great way to boost our physical health and our emotional well-being. It increases our mood as endorphins and serotonin are released, and this also leads to reducing feelings of stress and depression. It can be a lot of fun too if you find something you enjoy – we did a 20 min workout session that included squats and press ups, and we all pretty much laughed our way through it. It can be very fun to try new classes with friends and feel good while getting healthier physically too.
Over the years writing has become such a cathartic outlet for me. It helps me be honest and really get out into words how I feel and what I am thinking, without always been able to verbalise it. Likewise I have felt increased emotional well-being when I have shifted my mindset from comparing my life to others, and focusing on the good in my own life via a gratitude journal.
I was keen to have a writing for emotional well-being workshop, as I felt this is something manageable for most people. Writing is a great form of therapy to express ourselves – via a letter, poetry or story writing, burn books, journals or diary’s, blogs or other online outlets. Gratitude journals (write about 3 to 5 things a day in there) helps us refocus our minds onto the good things about our lives and days, and helps our emotional well-being as we begin to see what is good and full about our lives, instead of what might be lacking (or what we are still hoping for). For me the practice of daily gratitude journal-ling also reminds me of one of my favourite sayings – “Every day might not be good, but there’s something good in every day”. And this certainly boosts emotional well-being.
Even if you’re not the best writer, it can become a great therapeutic outlet and creative resource to build emotional well-being.
Laughter is the best medicine right? Whether we watch a comical film/programme, do things that cause us to fall about in fits of laughter, tell funny stories with friends and family or, like we did last week – sample some laughter Yoga (I honestly haven’t laughed that hard in ages), finding things to make us laugh is so good for emotional and physical well-being.
Laughter is talked about as the best medicine and encouraged daily, because it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells in our bodies, which are infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter of course also triggers the release of endorphins which are natural fell-good chemicals. SO pop on a comedy, watch some funny reels or participate in some laughter yoga exercises – you’ll feel so much better for it!
Get outside/Connect with Nature
Nature therapy and being outdoors has become one of my favourite and preferred ways to get a boost. I love to be near the beach; walk on the sand barefoot or paddle/swim in the outdoors. I enjoy walking too and being in the woods (or the desert here) and going on hikes – the outdoors offers so much and brings peace and joy. But, most days a walk in a park, or along the sea front, is enough to boost me. It gives us sunshine, fresh air and a sense of adventure and discovery. Even if the sun isn’t shining, it’s fresh and beneficial.
One reason I love nature as a form of therapy (and one main reasons I chose to go into forest school) is because not only is nature so amazing and calming (with lots to do and discover to connect with it), but it is known to generate calmness, creativity, joy and better concentration for being in it. I find it lowers stress and helps me (and seen with others) grow and find more clarity in life and my choices, and is definitely a source of awe, wonderment and joy.
Take a walk each day in the outdoors, or hop on your bike/run. Go for a paddle or take up wild swimming. Or, even sit in your garden/local park quietly and connect each of your senses – what can you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? this simple mindful activity is wonderful for connecting to nature and calming your soul.
Music is a tremendous way to boost our emotional well-being, and it is one thing I notice always calmed and worked well in helping those with dementia. I pop on music at home most days to feel a boost, and my 1 year old will go for it with his moves – it always brings us joy to hear our favourite songs doesn’t it? And some music can be so calming and relaxing for us too.
Music is processed directly by the amygdala, which is the part of the brain involved in mood and emotions. Our brain also produces dopamine when we hear music we enjoy, which again helps us feel relief from stress, depression and anxiety. Dancing goes back to the exercise benefits and so whether we are listening to music for relaxation, to dance around the kitchen to, or to enjoy while walking/driving/cleaning… it most definitely an excellent way to boost us daily.
Get enough sleep/rest
We’ve all stayed up way too late watching “just one more episode” or for some much need us time. But, poor sleep and not getting enough rest is detrimental to our emotional well-being and mental health. A lack of sleep puts our bodies into a distress state and produces more cortisol (stress hormone). I find that my mood, ability to handle things and my reasoning is all better with enough rest and sleep, as these things are then reduced and we feel fresher too.
Why? Because sleep is a powerful stress reducer. By following a regular sleep routine, it calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates our mood, and sharpens our judgement and decision-making. Did you know that you are also a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you’re well-rested? Every parent and job needs this. So find ways to unwind, take time to rest, go easy, and avoid burn out. But, also make sure you are trying to get enough sleep. It is such a simple way to boost emotional well-being and give us the best start to the day.
Digital detox & management
I find so many positive benefits from being online and social media. But there are also so many things I come across (or know I could come across) that doesn’t make me feel that great. This can be managed by things like who we follow, how much time we spend online/time of day we are online, filters we have in place and
But overall, digital detox and stepping away from being online so much has huge benefits. Tech overload and social media is known to cause stress and anxiety, and having a break helps to calm and recharge our brains, increase our mood and creativity and improve our sleep. It can improve our relationships and balance our lives.
I have found replacing evening scrolls with reading, or walking… taking complete breaks (5 day fast for example) all helpful in my emotional well-being. I also now try to ask myself if following someone is bringing me joy, helping me be a better person, increasing my creative ideas/dreams, or helping me in my life? If not, is it really beneficial following them if it leads to not feeling great, wishing you had something different or questioning yourself?
Our emotional well-being is so important. Find ways to protect it, boost it and nurture it, that work for you. These are just 7 I find that help daily, to get you started.