When we think of self-care we often think of taking care of our physical body. It is equally important to practice emotional self-care. It is this practice that recharges us mentally and emotionally to thrive in this life no matter what life presents.
We experience some form of emotion every second of every day. To what degree and depth can vary. When not taken care of our emotions can spiral out of control and control us. We can get lost in guilt, self loathing, depression, or anger, judgment, resentment. We can become victims to everyone and everything around us.
When cared for and developed, our emotions allow us to experience life as it is—to the full. We feel sadness and know joy. We feel hurt and know depth. We feel excitement and know boredom. We feel apathy and know compassion. We are able to moderate our emotions and know we are in control of what we feel and how we act to others.
The goal with emotions is to have them help you understand what is happening in your life. To identify what you are feeling related to a circumstance you are facing. And, then as a tool, know how to respond and move forward in experiencing life to the full.
The 5 primary ways to Practice Emotional Self-care & Recharge Emotionally:
The practice of emotional self-care begins with awareness. We must intentionally take time to become aware of what we are feeling. When we feel it and why. We must dig a little deeper with those emotions to get to the why behind the what. Why are you feeling restless, distressed, angry, hurt, even happy or excited.
What is it about a certain event that triggered the emotion that it did in you? Most times the emotions we are experiencing in the now are related to something in our past. This is not necessarily a bad thing. All of our experiences teach us something and creates an emotional response. When it is impactful, it creates an emotional signature or blueprint. It becomes a part of our reactive states.
In our awareness with an inquisitive look at our emotions we can begin to understand them. To see if they are legitimate in the moment or simply a trigger from a past event or pattern. This understanding helps us to discern what is real in this moment and not. What is a warranted emotion and can be released.
This is not dismissing every emotion for the sake of it. Quite the opposite. This is being aware of each emotion and determining if it truly represents what you really feel now and why. This helps you to process the emotion to better serve you and those around you.
Our emotions, when properly understood, are tools to help us in this life. Have you ever been caught up in anger or depression and after a period of time realized there was no real reason for it? Or, perhaps, you had overreacted and allowed the emotion to fuel the anger in a detrimental way or pull you further into despair through the day? That is an example of displaced emotions, likely tied to a past event or series of events that were simply triggered by something today. Awareness will help you to identify them before they rule you.
Without boundaries people, work, and life will run all over you. This important part of self-care is one of the hardest for many people to practice. It is easy to be made to believe by setting boundaries you are being insensitive, rude or selfish. You are not.
The key to boundaries is first identifying what you actually need to function at your best. And, equally important is what you do not need.
This may include distancing from toxic (triggering or draining) people in your life, electing to have a conversation at another time and knowing when to say no and yes. Remember a yes is always is a no to something else. Make sure your yes is life-giving and not a no to one of your priorities in life.
3. Prioritize Self
Without this one practice you will skip right over taking care of yourself. Life is busy and you are likely pulled in many directions. You likely even wonder how you will get it all done each day. It can be overwhelming and the thought of self-care, who has time for that!
You do. We all do. It is why we must prioritize ourselves first. If we do not first take care of ourselves we will not be able to give to others in our lives. Our health, relationships and work will suffer. We will not have the emotional or physical capacity to live this life the way we want to—with energy and vigor.
Prioritizing yourself is not being selfish. It is the practice of knowing what your body needs and does not need and then making that a priority.
The time-tested example is that of the oxygen mask on the airplane. You must first put on your own mask or you will run out of oxygen whilst trying to help others—and then you are no help to them or yourself.
Take each area of self-care, physical, emotional and spiritual and develop routines around those that are easily incorporated into your every day. Make it your baseline. This will ensure you have the energy, health and longevity to operate at your full potential each day—to thrive in this life, not just survive.
We can be demanding and hard on ourselves. We expect excellence in others and in ourselves. And, when we personally miss the mark we can beat ourselves up for the mistake. In doing so, we are typically talking to ourselves in ways we would never dream of talking to another person.
This berating and disappointment we shower on ourselves can be demoralizing and hold us back. These words can become trapped in our subconscience and become what we think of ourselves. We then play this critique over and over in our minds—often on auto pilot and unbeknownst to us.
Just as we forgive and give grace to others, we must learn to do the same for ourselves. This helps to remove obstacles we unknowingly place in our path. For example, if we misstep on a fitness or diet or achievement plan, we can look at ourselves as failures in that area. We tell ourselves we can’t get fit or it’s too hard or I’m too old or it doesn’t work for me or I’ll never stick to that.
This damaging self-talk can limit a high achiever and leave them puzzled as to why they excel in one area and not other areas in their life. Start today by simply giving yourself grace with missteps. Remember that is all they are. The misstep is not who you are. Then, remind yourself of your goal, that you can do it and start again.
This is a biggie. We are taught to be strong, resilient and self sufficient. We are taught it is a sign of weakness to ask for help. Most times these lessons are in us from childhood. And, are reinforced through society all around us through life.
However, we are made to help each other. That was the only way people survived for thousands of years. Helping one another is a natural part of sharing the load and thriving in this life.
It is literally impossible to do everything yourself. And, even though you may think you already do, someone is helping you with something every day. It may be in the form of the mail carrier delivering your letters, the electric company providing your electricity or the grocery store stocking your food. It is all help.
The next step is to ask for help and accept it when needed. Think through the course of a day and count the number of times someone offered you help and you declined. Now, think of the times you needed help and instead of asking for it you treated those around you with disdain because they did not help (even though you did not ask).
Asking for help is not a burden on someone, it is simply sharing. If it is beyond their ability at the time, they will (or should) let you know. Do not take offense. Simply seek help elsewhere or at another time.
Remember, it is up to you to ask for the help you need. It is not up to the people around you to know when you need it, especially when you decline it. This help will go a long way in reducing mental stress and overwhelm. It also helps you feel more connected to others as you share in life tasks.
Our emotional state is critical to how we view this life and ultimately live it. We can excel in one area and completely fail in others and not know why. All the while, it was a mental or emotional state that kept us from mastering an area and living our best life. You have the capacity and option to feel anything you want, any time. Harness it!