Emotions have the power to influence the landscape of daily life from an individual and relational perspective. Furthermore, an extraordinary part of being human is our capacity to experience many emotions. Often we then label our emotions as good (e.g. happy, joyful, silly, loving, or content) or bad (sad, frustrated, angry, hurt, or fear). What would it look like if we did not label our emotions?
Emotions are natural and they are telling us something about ourselves, a person, or a situation. The challenge is not necessarily the emotion, but what we do with the emotion we are experiencing. When we judge an emotion as “good” or “bad” we can be more reactive to what is being experienced. It is often the emotions we label as “bad” that make us uncomfortable and give us the most trouble. We tend to react instead of being mindful of our emotions. Yet, learning to be mindful of our emotions offers the opportunity to increase satisfaction in work and personal relationships, as well as our emotional wellness.
Below are three core concepts, including self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy, followed by practice suggestions to help put the concepts to work intended to grow relational emotional wellness.
Becoming self-aware is a great place to start growing your emotional wellness. But, what does that look like? Being self-aware equates to knowing our emotions and how they might impact the person we are interacting with. Additionally, serving ourselves some humble pie by owning our strengths and weaknesses can help us not elevate ourselves above others. Being humble can provide a space to acknowledge and explore the perspective of another, as well as the opportunity to learn from one another.
- Slow down when you communicate and become an observer of your own actions
- When you experience strong emotions, look at what might be behind it? Write these experiences down and reflect on them.
A person who self-regulates responds instead of reacts. We may react because something does not align with our perspective, our expectations are violated, or we would have approached something differently than another person. Self-regulation, however, nudges us to turn off the emotional autopilot reaction, often returning us to self-awareness and awareness of others.
- Be aware of how you automatically react to someone in challenging situations when you are feeling stressed, agitated, frustrated.
- Create an internal code word or taking a deep breath to catch yourself before reacting. Instead, acknowledge the other person, and let them know you want to think it over and then return to the conversation. Take your reactionary thoughts and write them down. Give it some time and return to your reactions on paper. Ask yourself how could you communicate a more thoughtful and respectful message that would encourage constructive dialogue?
Humans can be quick to make judgmental decisions or labels with people and situations. However, we often do not have insight into the whole story. There are stories behind every person, many of which we have no idea of, yet we make judgments. Having empathy for others enables us to switch places emotionally, helping us better understand how you might feel if you were them. Additionally, empathy can pave a road toward better relationships in which taking the time to understand another can lead to more collaboration, further enriching the human emotional communicative experience.
- Listening to someone and acknowledging their perspective is their truth
- Observing your body language and other people’s body language
- Recognizing the emotions of others and expressing understanding
- Learning how to improve communication skills and resolving conflict constructively
Each of these mindful concepts and their respective practices have the capacity to positively change how we communicate with one another, ultimately impacting the emotional wellness of ourselves and those we interact with. With this, consider taking the time to invest in relational emotional wellness, growing relationships where everyone involved is happier for it!
Check out the new WellTrack free app being offered on campus helping to keep your emotional wellness on track. This app is a self-help system to use when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. WellTrack offers videos, mood tracking, relaxation exercises, and reflection exercises to assist in shifting toward healthier thought patterns
The WellTrack app is there to provide a tailored tool empowering you to address emotional challenges when they start, instead of waiting until they become overwhelming to the point of needing therapy. However, if therapy is needed, WellTrack can be used as a supplemental form of therapy.
Where do you stand in your emotional wellness? Find out by taking the emotional assessment.
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Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! SEVEN is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. SEVEN runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Participants log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings and compete toward end of year overall point totals. Participants also receive the SEVEN e-newsletter and information on campus wellness events.
For additional details and to sign up, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Seven.