Redesigning Emotional Self-Care

“For us to feel good emotionally, we have to look after ourselves.”

Sam Owen

Our emotional system is so complex and the response to emotions differs from person to person. The expression of grief or joy unique to each person. We make a lot of assumptions, for example on how people express grief and joy. 

I’m hooked on crime shows and how criminals think and process emotions. Investigators gauge expressions of emotion to formulate assumptions regarding guilt or innocence. Let’s put on our investigator’s hat and learn how we can foster our emotional wellbeing.

What Are Emotions?

The scientific community has a challenging time providing a clear-cut definition and tools for quantifying emotions are in constant development. According to the book, “Discovering Psychology” by Don Hockenbury and Sandra E. Hockenbury, an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response. As human beings, we bring our experiences, physical (body) responses, and thinking to every emotion encountered. The key to redesigning our emotional wellbeing is to identify the unhealthy emotional responses and replace them with a healthy emotional response. This requires a great deal of diligence and self-reflection.

Harmful Emotions to Keep an Eye On

Life is constantly in motion, so encountering emotions such as fear, sadness, anxiety, and anger are a part of life. I’ve spent many counseling sessions learning how to pause before responding to my emotions. The natural tendency is to feel and react instantly. This reactionary approach opens the door for negative emotions like denial, withdrawal, bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, and even food abuse to take over. Mental Health America recommends the P.A.T.H. method for managing negative emotions.

P– Pause this allows us to stop and think

A– Acknowledge and honor what you are feeling

T-Think about how you can make yourself feel better

H-Help is available either from others or pre-selected strategies

Training my brain to respond differently has been a true labor of love. But, oh what a difference awareness and practice make. Before you know it the path to responding in healthy ways becomes second nature. The brain is amazing and more pliable than we give it credit.

Helpful Ways to Redesign Emotional Self-Care

Self-care of any kind should not be over complicated; it is a sure-fire way to ensure nothing is practiced with consistency. The simpler the better. Carley Schweet shares ten simple practices for daily emotional self-care:

1. Take a few deep breaths, especially before expressing your feelings
2. Learn to say No and serve yourself first

3. Protect your energy from others
4. Create boundaries that feel good to set and encourage others to do the same
5. Stop over-explaining yourself to others
6. Reserve the word Sorry only for those moments when you’re truly sorry7. Call on others for help when you start to feel overwhelmed
8. Accept compliments without argument or pushback, just a simple Thank You
9. Experience your emotions without judgment, guilt, or embarrassment
10. Give yourself the grace to try again when moments don’t go as planned, acceptance of yourself as you are is so important

I close our time with a quote from Carley Schweet, “How you love others starts with how you love yourself.” Let’s enter this new year and the years to come loving ourselves well. Taking time to assess where we are, committing to making the necessary changes one small step at a time, and celebrating our growth often.

Dare 2 B Well,

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