Does anyone else feel like this autumn has been physically exhausting and mentally draining? If you said yes, do you understand why you're feeling this way?
We're all aware we need to take care of ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves. We know that by meeting our needs we can better care for our families.
But, how do we actually do all this? How do we find the time—and energy—when we're already depleted to care for everyone's needs and our own?
Let's take a look at how wellness, mental health, and self-care can help you evaluate and improve how you're feeling.
Wellness is the overall state of your health. Wellness is made up of multiple elements, including:
- emotional - how effectively you can process and regulate your emotions
- environmental - how aware you are of your natural surroundings, as well as how you treat the environment
- spiritual - how you apply a set of morals and principles to everyday life choices
- physical - how you balance diet, nutrition, sleep, and activity
- occupational - how you balance work and your personal life
- social - how you feel connected to others, including how you engage with the public and effectively communicate and interact with others
- intellectual - how well you engage in various thought-provoking activities
These components do overlap, and when one aspect is affected, the others can be impacted as well. For example, when you're physically exhausted, it can be difficult to process situations emotionally. You may snap at your significant other or become impatient with your children. If you've ever been "hangry" (hungry and angry), you're irritable emotionally because you're not fulfilling your physical wellness.
Conversely, if you're emotionally feeling well, many times you may feel physically well, and vice-versa. Maybe you got a promotion at work and emotionally feel excited. Perhaps you feel intellectually rejuvenated and challenged in your new role. On Monday, you jump right out of bed instead of hitting snooze multiple times.
There are endless possibilities to supporting your personal wellness.
Take a moment to think about each aspect of your current wellness. Write down notes about each section. Consider:
- What is going well in this element?
- What am I struggling with?
- What other elements could be impacted by this wellness?
- What can I do to improve this area of wellness?
When one element is up, others can follow. As such, when one element is down, other areas can suffer. Regularly evaluating your wellness will help you make long-term improvements to your well-being.
Mental health includes the aspects of mental, social, and emotional well-being. Your mental health can change often. The way you're feeling can be impacted by wellness factors that are suffering.
Maybe you're starting to feel the seasonal blues now that the weather is changing (environmental wellness). Perhaps you're feeling worried about the upcoming holiday season (social wellness).
Most people feel moments of anxiousness and depression at some point, but if these feelings persist or worsen beyond two weeks, you may be suffering from a mental health condition. The good news is that there are many treatments to improve your mental health short-term and long-term. Seek out a healthcare professional if you would like to learn more about your mental health.
Mental Health Reflection
Review the following questions to help you think about your current mental health.
- On a scale of 1-10, how am I feeling today/this month?
- In what ways do I cope when I am feeling ____?
- What is/are my biggest struggle(s) right now?
- Would I benefit from speaking with a healthcare professional to discuss this issue(s)?
Remember, you cannot heal a broken bone correctly by ignoring it or treating it yourself. Your brain is just as important as the rest of your body.
Self-care is making a conscious effort to meet all your needs. Practicing self-care directly impacts the elements of wellness and overall mental health. Self-care looks different for everyone.
However, getting a full night's sleep, staying hydrated, eating well, and exercising regularly are proven ways to help you take care of your basic needs.
Maybe self-care is hiring a babysitter and spending the evening having dinner and watching a movie with your significant other. Perhaps you enjoy alone time reading and disconnecting from reality for a bit. Self-care is not one size fits all.
Think about what self-care looks like to you. Write down some notes about the following questions.
- Which area(s) of my life do I feel needs fulfilling (social, physical, emotional, etc.)?
- Have my eating habits changed? Would I feel better if I made different choices?
- Am I feeling sad, isolated, or lonely? Would a lunch or video chat with a friend help?
- What would I do if I had no responsibilities for a whole day/several hours?
- What activities do I miss and make me feel like myself?
Self-care is something you do for yourself on a consistent basis to keep your mental health and overall wellness in check.
Being aware of your health is vital to feeling balanced, content, and healthy. Take a few moments each day to think about your needs and create the time necessary to fulfill them.
NOTE: The information in this article is not a replacement for medical treatment. This content is intended for educational purposes only.
Nicole Thompson is a contributing writer and editor to the Lincoln Learning blog. She brings more than a decade of experience in education, curriculum, and communications to her blogs. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Science in Instructional Leadership, with certifications in secondary English and Communications. Nicole is married with four children and has a spunky golden retriever named Cinder and a rescue dog named Annie Banannie.
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