It's a thing I love when I end up writing on a topic that I most desperately need. A lot of us think that the people we turn to for wisdom or advice have everything figured out. We think that they must always find it easy to shut away the negative voice, have a lot of confidence, and not have many bad days, if at all. But, that's not true at all.
I have never met anyone who didn't struggle, but I have met people who knew how to carry themselves through it. I am going through a tough time myself these days, with things in my relationships. And I don't have everything figured out. I go to the deepest pits at night when it's just me. I am sure that you can relate to this feeling.
Whenever you are struggling, please know that you are not weak. We all struggle. Even if you see people who seem they don't. We all face difficult feelings and situations in some form or the other. Why else would emotional songs and stories be so loved? It's because we all connect to them.
In testing times, it is more important than ever for us to know how to do emotional self-care. It is what will take us to the end of this rocky road with our hearts in one piece. The truth is this, no one can save you except yourself. No one can make you choose what is good for you, only you can. You can make decisions that will make or break you.
So, today let's learn about emotional self-care and the ways we can practice it to give the light we need in our lives.
What is emotional self-care?
Very simply and self-explanatory, emotional self-care is about attending to our emotions and feelings. It's what we do to lovingly respond to how our body and mind is.
For that, let's understand the difference between feelings and emotions. Psychology Today says, "Despite the words being used interchangeably, emotions and feelings are actually two different but connected phenomena. Emotions originate as sensations in the body. Feelings are influenced by our emotions but are generated from our mental thoughts.
Example: You notice the emotion of discomfort while at a party as your stomach clenches and your breathing gets constricted. Then your mind labels that as feeling awkward because perhaps you don’t know many people there, or you just saw an ex-boyfriend. Yet another person with those same emotional bodily sensations, however, might label the experience as exciting because they get to meet new people or see their ex again.
Emotions are the raw data, a reaction to the present reality, whereas feelings can be diluted by stories we’ve created in our head based on events of the past or fears of the future—not necessarily the truth of the situation."
What this makes me understand is that emotions are the truth, plain and simple, and our feelings are subjective. Both are important but understanding the difference makes us not treat them as the same.
What is emotional self-care important?
We can answer this by asking the opposite question: Why is it not? There is no reason to say that it is not important for us to care for our emotions because they strongly influence our lives.
Good emotional health is as important as good physical health.
Emotional self-care can help us regulate emotions, especially difficult ones. When we are not in touch with ourselves, it becomes so easy to react and do things we'll regret or not understand later.
Emotional self-care can help us have better self-control. You know the times when you feel you are so angry or agitated that you might lash out? Isn't that because of our emotions? So, when we consciously give time to nurturing our emotions, we learn healthier ways to interact with the world.
Ways to Practice Emotional Self-Care
- Practice awareness
- Write your emotions and how you feel
- Connect to the moment
- Express your emotions to someone you trust
- Take the right steps for your emotions
- Regulate the information you receive
- Learn grounding techniques
- Express what you're gratitude for
- Say positive affirmations
- Pick up relaxing hobbies
- Find an exercise you like
- Watch more funny things
- Take therapy
1. Practice awareness
The first step to solving or improving anything is the awareness that it is there. We get so busy with the thoughts in our minds that we don't pay attention to the emotions in our bodies.
A great method to practice awareness is to do a body scan. I recommend you do this at least once every day whenever you can.
Basically, a body scan is giving attention to each part of your body from top to down slowly and individually. From the top of your head to your toes.
Here's a video you can follow to do it:
2. Write your emotions and how you feel
I find writing to be a really rewarding exercise especially writing about how I feel. It has through the years helped me understand how my emotions influence what I think and feel.
What you can do is write about how your day was at the end of every day and focus on any of the particular moments where you experienced stronger emotions and feelings. This can help you observe patterns, assess the reasons for your responses, and learn how you want to deal with these situations in the future.
3. Connect to the moment
One of the great ways of being mindful is deep breathing. Mindfulness is just being in the present moment without judgment.
Relax your body, roll your shoulders, and simply breathe through your nose. Try to notice the sensations in your body without trying to change them. Only see and accept them as they are and keep breathing.
You can also do a guided breathing exercise like this:
Another way to connect to the moment is to surrender control and observe everything as it is. Don't think about what you should or should not do, just observe. You can do this anywhere. Naturally, as you relax, your breathing will become slower, connecting you more to the moment.
4. Express your emotions to someone you trust
Oh, where would I be without my friends? I firmly, firmly know in my heart that when we share how we are with someone who listens and responds with empathy, our lives become so much easier.
It is with the help of my true friends that I have made it through very difficult days much quicker and in better shape than I could've alone.
If you have even one person in your life that you can confide in, please let them be there for you. You are not a burden. As you would be there for them, I am sure they would be there for you if they're a good friend.
5. Take the right steps for your emotions
There are people and situations that no matter what you do will never change and will keep hurting you whenever you interact with them.
Choose to set boundaries to protect your heart.
6. Regulate the information you receive
There's a lot of news around at our fingertips that can distress us or just use our attention up for nothing.
I don't mean that we should not care about the important issues in the world but taking in a lot of information that only makes you feel worse does nothing to help.
On the other side, filling up our brains with stuff we don't need to know is a waste of our energy because even if it's just reading, it is an activity. So, observe how much time you give to taking in news and how that is impacting your emotions.
7. Learn grounding techniques
Grounding techniques are exercises that help distract us from triggering feelings and help soothe us by getting back to the present moment.
These can be especially helpful when we feel angry, anxious, or agitated.
Here are some helpful grounding techniques:
- Taking a walk
- Petting an animal
- Washing your face
- Deep breathing
- Holding an ice cube
- Going out into nature
- Doing quick exercise
- Listen to surroundings
- Visualizing something you enjoy to do
- Describe what’s around you in detail
8. Express what you're grateful for
I have been writing my gratitude journal every day for the last three years. I can tell you one thing, it matters most when it's the most difficult.
On the days when you feel you have nothing to be grateful for, push yourself harder to write. And I am not saying you have to be grateful for pain. We can't be grateful for everything genuinely, but we can be grateful for something at every moment.
Make a list of three small things that you're grateful for every day. It will give you the perspective that good things happen even on boring or sad.
9. Say positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are positive statements that we say to ourselves to soothe, inspire, or encourage ourselves.
Here are some positive affirmations for emotional self-care:
- I am now in control.
- My body is calm.
- I am feeling better.
- All is well in my world.
- I will get through today.
- I welcome a sense of calm into my life.
- I give myself permission to feel this way without judgment.
- It’s okay. Everything will be fine.
- I am brave.
- I trust the world will help me live my best life.
- I release tension whenever I exhale.
- I am strong and ready for change.
- I am freeing myself from stress.
- I am feeling freer and healthier
- I feel calm and peaceful inside.
10. Pick up relaxing hobbies
Is there a hobby that you have that takes you away from the world and completely engrosses you?
For me, it is sewing and embroidering. These two activities require so much of my attention that I can't afford to think about anything else. I absolutely love being so present and attentive to creating something with my hands.
It has become something that grounds me and I associate comfort with these activities. What is it for you?
11. Find an exercise you like
Our body is different parts working together. We need both physical and emotional well-being for holistic well-being. They help each other grow.
Exercise is proven to boost our mood, concentration, and alertness. As we read before, emotions show up in our body so helping our body feel better is a way to help our emotions too.
12. Watch more funny things
Laughter is the best medicine, isn't it? Laughter has carried me through heartbreak, loss, pain, and complete hopelessness.
I really love The Office for it has been my comfort during months where nothing helped. I also love watching funny animal videos.
This also applies to talking to people who are funny and consciously finding humor around you. Life is what we make it, and we don't have to make it serious.
13. Take therapy
Self-help is a great tool but it does not overrule the fact we need people. There is no shame in that. We are not weak for needing support.
If you're curious about therapy or have been feeling low for a long time, I really recommend you try therapy. We need all the help we can get and different situations require different solutions. Maybe this is one that can help?
And, that's it! Here were my 13 ways that can help you practice emotional self-care in your life. I hope they helped you. Share them with your friends and family. Who knows they might need it. I wish you well. Take care!
Continue Reading: 15 Self-Care Night Routine Ideas for a Restful Sleep