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Take Mindful Action to Prioritize and Enhance Emotional Well-Being

Take Mindful Action to Prioritize and Enhance Emotional Well-Being

A little bit of optimism and a dose of feng shui can truly go a long way to improve emotional well-being, and both point to a level of intentional wellness that many may be missing in the upset pandemic and social discord has caused. October is Emotional Wellness Month, and while you may have never dealt with mental health or emotional issues before, all around us, and possibly within ourselves, we are seeing strong people break down under the weight of these turbulent and uncertain times.Sure, some of the unflappable among us may be on cruise control, ready to navigate the pace of a busy fall and holiday season, but this is a message to those who aren’t.We care. To those who are still seemingly in auto pilot, we also care and want you to be alert for those around you who are not; ask how you can help.

To all: attention to your emotional well-being cannot wait. Check yourself, your co-workers, your family and your friends. Get help or be of assistance.

Trigger Warning: That’s why we’re taking mindful action today we hope will provide tips on being alert to emotional disturbance, in yourself and others, and for finding a positive balance in not only your home and work (or job search) but in all areas of your life. We are aware this article may amplify emotional dissonance you are already feeling, so be alert to that.

What is Emotional Wellness

According to The National Wellness Institute, “wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” Right now, for many, this idea may seem simply impossible, yet there are some surefire ways of taking attentive action toward a positive change – from laying the foundation for or rebuilding positive relationships to feeding your appetite with a more well-rounded diet.

Be alert to the warning signs

Mental and emotional decline is a silent epidemic. Because we can’t see it, we can easily miss it. While only licensed professionals can accurately diagnose emotional health risk, anyone can be on the lookout for indicators the people they work and live with aren’t coping well. Early intervention can spare enormous suffering – not just to those who are unwell but for those around them. A few common warning signs include:

  • Feeling sad/withdrawn for extended periods (two plus weeks)
  • Increased absenteeism or noticeable productivity losses
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sudden or unpredictable shifts in attitude or mood
  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

If you observe these signs, don’t let your fear of an awkward conversation stop you from saying something. Engage in a conversation about the behavior you see, without suggesting causation or inferring fault. You might also share a personal experience to support and help remove some of the shame many people feel when they aren’t coping as well as they think they’re supposed to….

Likewise, if you just have an intuitive sense that something is amiss, don’t ignore it.  If something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t. A genuinely caring enquiry can open the door to connect with people on a very heartfelt level, enabling you to get them the help they may not even have known about, much less to have actively sought out on their own accord.

6+ Ways to Practice and Improve Emotional Wellness

Begin at the Beginning: Start Your Day Intentionally

It’s better to be optimistic in our approach to life than pessimistic, and the root of optimism is something quite simple: mindfulness.

Beginning your days with mindfulness means setting a deliberate intent. This doesn’t mean you have to wake up with a pep in your step every single day, but that you can actively assess and communicate your feelings – whether it be to yourself or someone else – in hopes of finding a sense of meaning so you can then move forward or redirect as necessary.

Recognizing and accepting one’s feelings is a positive way to enforce emotional wellness. A few simple things that can help you carve out your path to an improved emotional state of being include:

  • Laughing with friends, be it at a zoom party, on the phone or (mindful of physical distancing) out at dinner
  • Accepting mistakes from the previous day and learning from them
  • Writing in a journal first thing in the morning
  • Setting priorities and goals

Find Connection in Your Community

Laying down the foundation for positive relationships is another way to achieve emotional wellness. Cutting ties with toxic people or saying no to plans is perfectly suitable for leading a stress-free life.

With the expanding use of social media combined with restrictions on being together socially, it’s important to challenge yourself and others – another tactic in improving emotional wellness – to make REAL connections.

You don’t have to be extremely extroverted to get involved with others, either. According to healthyplace.com, “emotionally healthy people connect with others in meaningful ways. Introverts and extroverts alike connect with others to share experiences.”

You don’t have to plunge into the role of someone who is always available, but small interactions with people in your home, community, workplace or even the grocery store are the perfect place to start. Say hello, get involved in what community events you can, and strive to meet people whose goals and ambitions align with your journey to a better self.

Eat, Drink and Sleep Well

Emotional wellness is often, if not always, influenced by what we are putting into our bodies. The more junk we eat, the worse we can expect to feel.

Ditch the fast-food and consider reorganizing your grocery list and taking it to your local farmers market. Adding fresh greens, fruits and energy-infused foods will not only approve your physical health, but your mental health, too.

As you age, vitamin intake becomes more and more crucial to your overall health. Low on energy? Consider taking some B-12 vitamins. If you’re struggling with digestive issues, consider a probiotic.

Don’t forget to wash it all down with a tall glass of water. If you’re really trying to achieve optimal wellness, follow the easy 8×8 rule when it comes to water intake. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water would be sufficient for making sure you’re hydrated.

You’re going to want to make sure you’re sleeping well. Eight hours is the recommended amount of sleep to get a full night’s rest. When you mix these three key ingredients together, you’re going to improve your emotional and physical health.

Practice Good Physical Health

Exercise has been known to really get your endorphins going. Along with challenging yourself to connect with people, challenging yourself to practice good physical health will also be huge in maintaining emotional wellness.

Check to see if your community offers a fitness center. Some communities may offer yoga and other fitness classes, even physically distanced, and perfect for getting your heart pumping while also being a common ground for meeting with people.

If you’re nervous about working out with others or feel like you need to build some strength before taking your skills to the gym, fear not. Equipping your residence and using free, online training is a fantastic way to maintain physical health while also keeping you in the right mindset. Invest in a body weight bands, a yoga mat, medicine ball and/or free weights to start small. You’d be surprised with how handy your furniture and own body weight become when it’s time to work your bis and thighs.

Better yet, take your exercise outdoors, when the weather is nice and before winter sets in…. If your community has a nearby trail or is positioned in a vibrant neighborhood, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. Introducing fresh air and positive endorphins into your routine will kickstart the healthy mindset you desire.

Manage Your Surroundings

1. Don’t be Nose Blind. According to Everyday Health™, “scent can have a powerful, almost primitive influence on our mood.” A coffee shop smells AWESOME, like energy, to many. A cigar store has that unmistakable cedar meets tobacco scent that reminds some of celebrations. A fudge factory wafts the delicious smell of chocolate for miles around, reminding us of reward. Hotels actually pay people large sums of money to create a branded scent for their chains.

Choose to give your environment a smell that is clean, fresh, energizing and inviting.

2. Essential Oils. This is not an infomercial for EO, but even if your home is a humble abode, it can be a sanctuary or take on a spa like feel. It is one thing to fill it with refreshing, familiar and enticing smells, yet you might even throw in some scents that can improve your health and happiness.

Try out an oil diffuser, not to be mistaken with a humidifier or purifier, which pumps oil-rich, cool mist into your spaces. These plant extracts can provide a positive impact on your living areas.

Geranium helps with anxiety, while lemon oil provokes cognition. Lavender scents are great for relaxation, while peppermint stimulates the brain, making it easier for you to stay awake and focused. Do your research, here….

3. Declutter.  We weren’t joking, exactly, about feng shui at the beginning. Without doubt, one of the greatest influences in life is our environment. Whether it’s Feng Shui, hygge, gemütlichkeit or the Dutch ideal of gezelligheidIt, even ancient studies of our surroundings and how they are arranged, how they sound, and what they feel like have proven our environment informs our moods, our ability to perform, our effectiveness, our health, our earning ability, our peace of mind, our sense of wellbeing, and our beliefs. Our environment impacts everything.

So, consider the art of placement. Decluttering a little bit, adding some plants and experimenting with pops of color that make you eager to enjoy the space you occupy can brighten your mood as much as the room itself.

4. Listen to music. Never underestimate the power of sound. Always make the tone of your environment one that uplifts, that encourages, challenges, inspires and empowers greatness. Whether it be peaceful tunes, pump up jams, or your favorite good-times album from when you were a kid, music will make getting through these tough times a lot easier.

Stay Hopeful

Emotional wellness tends to take a back seat during the fall, anyways. Pile on the disruption we’ve faced all 2020, and it is no wonder so many around us right now, even those who ever have, are struggling emotionally. Our biggest concern last year was getting caught up in what to wear to the tacky sweater party or how to dodge questions from our favorite aunt.

Now, we must not forget that our mental health, and that of those around us, comes first. With the holidays right around the corner, you definitely want to keep a few things in mind when strapping on your fall boots and bringing out the cozy sweaters.

Say no to plans. It’s OK, especially with all the press around even intimate gatherings, to avoid a couple of parties if it means it gives you time to catch up with yourself.

Stay in your groove. Make sure you’re staying on top of your passions, even after all the apple cider is consumed.

Learn to create and appreciate time with family and friends, and do not fear memory lane. Looking back sometimes can help you move forward.

Additional Insights for Leaders

Given that in a normal year (which is about as far from 2020 as one could get) the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy one trillion dollars, there’s clearly a steep hidden cost on any organization that fails to support the whole wellbeing of their employees.

Here are five ways specific to leaders who must support those in their charge struggling with emotional wellness.

1.  Help people feel psychological safety

The Cov-2 virus has created many challenges around physical safety in the workplace. Given the stigma still associated with mental health, fostering an environment in which people feel emotionally supported remains one of the most important and difficult challenges for leaders.  This is exacerbated further by organizations reopening offices and encouraging employees to return to them after months of isolation.

At the heart of psychological safety is the feeling we can openly and respectfully share what we think or feel without fear of negative consequence. One key aspect of psychological safety is the connection people have with their co-workers.

Fostering strong social connection within a team helps build emotional safety. While virtual meetings can help people connect, it’s important to encourage conversations that are not work related. For instance, setting aside thirty minutes a day, or an hour a week, for a team check-in during which the only topic off the table is work.

2.  Connect with genuine empathy

This crisis has jolted millions outside their comfort zone, leaving many people wrangling with a swirl of intense emotions well beyond the norm. While we’ve all been riding this pandemic storm together, we’ve all weathered it differently. Some have thrived in the midst of crisis, with virtual working removing enormous pressure from their lives. For others, the challenge of isolation has created a whole new set of challenges.

It is why connecting from a place of genuine empathy and compassion is more important than ever.  Empathy is the singular most important skill for leadership, particularly in the midst of disruptive change and uncertainty.

So rather than rely on an email or IM, make it a priority to connect with people through 1:1 dialogues that are meaningful. Given how disconnected people feel right now, this is one more reason to pick up the phone or, if you’re using Zoom, to turn on your camera. However you speak, always ask ‘How are you?’ and don’t fill awkward silences. Rather give them space to answer, honestly.

3.  Humanize yourself by sharing your own struggles

When Michelle Obama shared in August that she felt she was suffering with a low-grade depression, social media streams flooded with an outpouring of support. Her courage to share her personal struggle so publicly was an act of public service by destigmatizing mental health. When someone with apparent fortitude confides they’re not invulnerable to depression, it ameliorates the stigma often associated with a mental health concerns.

This doesn’t imply anyone in a supervisory role should share everything they’re dealing with. You have to be clear about your intention for sharing and how it will be helpful to whoever you are speaking with. That said, if you’ve had a difficult day, or tough week, it’s okay to let others know you’re not made of psychological Teflon. This doesn’t mean you’re not fully capable of captaining your team forward. It just means that, like the former First Lady, you are human. 

People need to see that; to know that they are not alone.

We connect far more deeply through our vulnerability and struggles than our victories and success. By sharing the heartache caused by emotional struggles in our own lives, when we offer up the unphotoshopped truth of our existence, it makes people more comfortable sharing their own.

4.  Understand the resources your company offers

Drawing on 25 years working in organizational change, Peter Thies of The River Group says that “Understanding your organization’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is not ‘an HR thing.’ It is very much a leadership concern.”

5.  Role model radical self-care

Last but not least, lead by example and prioritize your own emotional wellbeing. There is no more powerful way to demonstrate the priority you put on emotional health and wellbeing than on how you take care of yourself.  And if you think you have far too much on your plate to take time to slow down, renew and reset, consider that you have far too much on your plate not to….Taking care of number one really does make you of greater service to others.

Our ability to lead a team is always determined by our ability to lead ourselves. Be open about your regular ‘self-care rituals.’ Share your daily practices for taking care of your own wellbeing – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – and how that supports your own mental health and emotional bandwidth under pressure. 

Creating a “Zoom-free Friday”, scheduling a regular digital detox, or even taking your own “mental health day” sends a powerful message to your team and organization.

Conclusion

The heart of this crisis is a human one. In this midst of a time when so many people are wrestling with confronting a varied mix of intense emotions – anxiety, grief, shame, depression, guilt, anger, isolation, overwhelm – we don’t just have the responsibility to prioritize our whole wellbeing and that of those around us, we have an obligation.

This October and beyond, make sure to practice positive interactions with yourself and others to achieve an optimal level of emotional wellness. Practice good health, build formative relationships and make sure to be mindful of your space and actions.

As Lester Holt signs off every night, “Please, continue to take care of yourself…and each other!”

Get Help

If you are struggling right now, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the many other professional mental health care agencies.

We are not mental health professionals.

Please, immediately seek the help of one.

________________

Source

World Mental Health Day: Leaders Must Prioritize The Whole Wellbeing Of Employees, Oct 10, 2020, Margie Warrell 

Emotional Wellness Month: Taking Mindful Action for a Better Well-Being, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

 

Published by

Scott Rivers

Helping clients acquire top talent for peak performance in the fields of Oncology, Genetics, Diagnostics and Life Sciences
October is Emotional Wellness Month, and while you may have never dealt with mental health or emotional issues before, all around us, and possibly within us, we are seeing strong people break down under the weight of these turbulent and uncertain times.
The heart of this crisis is a human one. In this midst of a time when so many people are wrestling with a flood of intense emotions, we don’t just have the responsibility to prioritize our whole wellbeing and that of those around us, we have an obligation. Sure, some of the unflappable may be on cruise control, but this is a message to let you all know…
We care.
Attention to your emotional well-being cannot wait. Check yourself, your co-workers, your family and your friends. Get help or be of assistance. Be alert for those around you who are not handling all this as well as they would like; ask how you can help.
Trigger Warning: We hope these tips on being alert to emotional disturbance, in yourself and others, will help you find a positive balance in your life. If you are struggling right now, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the many other professional mental health care agencies. We are not mental health professionals. Seek out one.
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