Most of us know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. But did you know that October is also Emotional Wellness Month?
It makes sense to check in on one’s state of being this time of year—after the ease of summer has passed and before the brisk pace of winter sets in. But before we measure something that sounds elusive, let’s define the term with some clarity. According to the National Institutes of Health, emotional wellness is “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.”
The National Center for Emotional Wellness (yes, there is such a thing) defines it this way: “The term refers to an awareness, understanding and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.”
So, how are you doing in this area of your life? Are you rolling with the inevitability of change in your life or feeling stuck, unable to get past a disappointment or personal loss? All of us confront change—whether small or large—nearly every day. The point is, how well do we cope? The answer to that question can help determine how things are going in other areas of your life, including personal and work relationships, and physical health. It’s true—emotional wellness can affect your blood pressure, heart health and weight, for instance.
Think about the most recent changes in your life, whether due to the move of a family member to a distant city, for example, or significant alterations to your daily routine. How did you handle the disruption? With a day or two of frustration, or a week or two of sadness, then a rebound? Or did these changes cause a plummet in your mood—perhaps affecting your sleep for a long time or your appetite?
If you find your ability to “bounce back” after change or disappointment isn’t as strong as you’d like, it’s possible to build up those emotional-wellness muscles.
Here are some steps, straight from the American Academy of Family Physicians, to help you improve your coping skills.
- Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what makes you sad, frustrated or angry—and try to address or change those triggers.
- Manage stress. Learn relaxation methods—deep breathing, meditation, exercise—to help you cope with stress.
- Strive for balance. Find a balance between work and play, rest and activity. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on the positive things in your life.
- Take care of your physical health. Get regular exercise, eat healthy meals, get enough sleep.
- Connect with others. Make a lunch date, join a new group, greet the strangers you encounter.
- Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what’s important to you in life and focus on it.
At The Gatesworth, an independent living community for active seniors, we help build emotional wellness into the daily lives of our residents. Our goal is to ensure that the people who call The Gatesworth home have the amenities and support services they need to live active, engaged and satisfying lives.
If you’d like to hear more about ways we help support emotional wellness, give us a call. We can help you live your best life: 314-993-0111.