We all know what it means to “take care” of our health. Eat right, exercise, get good sleep and eat nutrient-dense foods. But, there is something deeper that is essential to self-care. Just as important as nurturing our physical well-being is the care and feeding of our hearts.
Your spiritual state has the ultimate influence over how you interact with yourself, with others, and with your life. I always know when my emotional well-being is out of whack. I feel overly sensitive or struggle with negative thoughts and feelings. I get too caught up in superficial non-sense. I waste time comparing, worrying, or beating myself up. I start to believe my happiness is dependent on “the next good thing” that may or may not come my way. I have a hard time focusing on ALL the good and struggle with a narrow, negative mind.
On the other end, when I take time to nurture my emotional health, I am positive, present, grounded, and at ease. I am comfortable with myself and have strong boundaries that help me maintain balance. I don’t take things personally and I have a clear sense for what really matters to me. I don’t sweat the small stuff and am full of energy for my life.
Can you relate? We all can. We are HUMAN. Our emotional and spiritual selves need nurturing and input, they need a focus just like our physical selves do. Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act, it’s the “mind/body connection.” When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something isn’t right. For example, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one or big work deadline. The following can be physical signs that your emotional health is out of balance:
- Back pain
- Change in appetite
- Chest pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dry mouth
- Extreme tiredness
- General aches and pains
- High blood pressure
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Palpitations (the feeling that your heart is racing)
- Sexual problems
- Shortness of breath
- Stiff neck
- Upset stomach
- Weight gain or loss
- Weak immune system causing frequent colds or infections
When you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or socializing with others. Abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs may also signal poor emotional health. That’s why its important to look after your spiritual self not just your external appearance. It really is “It’s whats on the inside that counts”.
What enhances your emotional well-being? What keeps you calm, centered and operating from a grounded place as opposed to a reactionary, emotional one? Here are some amazing suggestions on ways to take care of your spiritual self and live a healthy life from the inside out.
Spiritual Self Care. Ways to take care of your emotional self.
A Healthy Body Helps A Healthy Mind. Taking care of your body is a powerful first step towards mental and emotional health. The mind and the body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. For example, exercise not only strengthens our heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our mood. Here are all my suggestions on taking care of your physical self so your mind and spirit can follow (click here to read: “How to take care of your body when you don’t have time to take care of your body“).
Meditate. Meditation is proof that it doesn’t take a ton of time to do a mind and body good. Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve stress. Other benefits include a boost in compassion and emotional stability, and some research suggests that meditating could even keep illness at bay. The best part? Its benefits continue even when we’re not meditating — consider it the gift (to yourself) that keeps on giving. Meditating creates silence and stillness, increasing mental focus and the ability to stay in the present moment. Meditation can be something as simple as sitting still for several minutes and focusing on your breathing while clearing your mind or as complex as guided meditation with music and chanting. Try to Meditate in the morning. Ten minutes of stillness can make all the difference. Here are some guides to help you:
Cultivate and live in a positive environment. Who you choose to spend your time with and the input you from your environment will have a huge effect on your outlook. To be able to stay positive and healthy it is essential to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of drag you down. Consciously decide who and what you choose to spend time with. If in doubt, I ask, “After I leave their company, do I feel energized or drained?”. Leave toxic relationships and detox your life from negative influences. Make a healthy environment a priority. Work to surround yourself with people and things who inspire, support, and give you energy for your life.
Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it—things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or discovering a new hobby.
Pay it forward. By helping others, we actually help ourselves, too. Lending a hand not only boosts mental health, but may also lead to a longer life. Volunteering also positively effects self-confidence, self-esteem, and general wellbeing.
Unplug. These days, it feels like everyone’s glued to a phone, laptop, or all at the same time. Deliberately taking a break from social media, e-mail, blogging, and all electronics can help recharge and give the brain the downtime it needs to work at an optimal level. Not only that but it feels SO good to unplug and actually LIVE in the real world. Set a aside a specific time daily to log off and enjoy your life.
Allow your emotions to come to the surface. You gotta feel it in order to HEAL it. If you’re tired and sad, cry it all out. If you’re stressed, don’t try to put on a mask and hide it. Get it all out, all the frustration, the overwhelm, the anger and the fear. You’ll feel much better after.
Cultivate your spiritual side. This could mean checking out a meditation class (often yoga studios are a good source), exploring the local religious centers in your neighborhood or asking a friend to recommend a good inspirational book. Studies show that those who develop their own spirituality and their own belief system will live longer and more satisfying lives. Simply practicing the beliefs that you have through meditation or organized worship can be very helpful for developing a positive attitude. After all, trust gives way to a better attitude and mood, whether that trust is in a higher power or yourself! Good places to connect you to your spirit: Intent.com, Hay House Radio, Live FEARLESS and Free by Terri Cole, and the DAILY LOVE .
Be mindful. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Focusing on the present — without judging how we feel and what we think — can be both a liberating and healthy practice. Studies show that getting in-tune with ourselves through mindfulness slashes stress and depression, helps us see ourselves in a truer light, and may even help keep our minds from wandering. Learning to practice mindfulness will not only improve your wellness, it will allow you to take JOY in your life. Want to savor the journey not just the destination? Read on and learn how to cultivate mindfulness in your daily actions.
Gather a support group. When you feel overstretched, burnout, or too busy, gather a support group. It helps to delegate, outsource, and have others to help you manage the work that may be weighing you down. Call your mother and ask her to help you take care of the house, talk to your friends about what you’re dealing with, seek out others in the same situation as you, and make sure your partner is on your team. Not only can they help with practical tasks, they will give you lot’s of moral support and you’ll feel less alone.
Choose happy. We all know that happiness feels good, but it’s also great for our health. Research suggests that feeling happy may even prevent disease, including heart disease. But being happy is easier said than done, right? Click here to read some simple ways to feel more upbeat, like my #1 favorite: cracking a smile! Happiness is a practice that you can exercise like a muscle – the more you choose to work it the more it works in your life.
Don’t succumb to “shoulds” and stay true to your gut. Nothing is worse for emotional health than over-committing, agreeing to attend an event you don’t resonate with, or volunteering for something your not fully committed to. Before you say YES to an opportunity or commitment check in with yourself first. If you feel like you “should” do it but deep inside know its not right for you, say NO. You can use these words, “Wow that sounds like a worthwhile opportunity, its just not right for me right now.”
Compliment yourself. Positive self-speech can seriously impact your mood. Instead of adding to the monkey-brain thoughts of not good enough, too stressed and panic – tell yourself you look good, that you’re doing great and that you can manage everything that comes your way.
Brighten your days with colorful clothes and images. It doesn’t have to cost much, but it will make a huge impact on your happiness – brighten up your life with colorful clothes, images, or accessories.
Say no to anything that is not important to you. Laundry, baking for a fundraiser, demanding girlfriends – work to say NO to things that stress you out. Give yourself the permission to focus on what’s important. Getting the unessential responsibilities off your schedule will not only create som extra time and space, it will also lighten the burden you’re feeling to keep up with it. If it’s not an absolute YES, then it is a NO. Remember: Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everyone else.
Ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and you’ll quickly learn that most people around you actually love to be asked. What usually helps the most is to get help to do the normal things; cooking, shopping and regular every-day tasks. However, don’t underestimate how important the people in your life can be when it comes to feedback, motivation and supporting your self-confidence regarding the important work you’re doing.
Listen to your favorite music. Calm music will help you calm down and upbeat music will help you up your game. Your favourite music will boost your mood and help keep you feeling good.
Break your self-care habits into smaller tasks and do one each day. Break up your self-care habits into smaller, and more achievable chunks. Take a bath one day, paint your nails the next day, go to yoga the next, etc. That way every day you are doing a little something nice for yourself.
Keep in touch with your friends. We need each other to stay SANE. A few text messages, tweets, a coffee, or lunch date – do what it takes to stay connected to the people in your life that matter. Too much time alone will make anyone go down the negative rabbit hole. You will feel much better when you stay connected to those important people in your life that matter.
Write a daily gratitude list. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that individuals with a more grateful outlook on life exhibited a heightened state of well being. According to the study, “research has shown that gratitude is linked with positive emotions including contentment, happiness, and hope.” At some point during the day, make a simple list of five or ten things that you are grateful for in your life. You can read all my tips on keeping a gratitude journal HERE. It’s amazing how simply taking the time to count your blessings goes FAR in helping you keep a positive mental state of health.
Write your worries DOWN. Stress makes us more vulnerable, and worry can be a nasty side-effect of a busy life. If you find yourself worrying a lot, it’s a good idea to write a daily worry-list (I call it a brain DUMP). Spend 5 minutes in the morning and 5-minutes in the evening worrying about whatever and put it down on your list. It may sound simple, but getting your worry out on paper will actually help you clear your mind.
Go On Vacation! When it comes to taking vacation, most Americans don’t do a lot of it. But skipping out on time away from the 9-to-5 does more harm than good: Studies show that skipping the family vacay is associated with a higher risk of heart disease in both men and women. Whether booking a trip to an exotic location or going somewhere nearby, time away from work can help refresh our focus, and being exposed to a new location or experience may boost creativity. Plus, everyone deserves a break! Read more of the healthy benefits of a vacation HERE.
Keep a planner and schedule no-appointments time. To ease stress, it’s a good practice to stay organized and keep a calendar. Make sure you write down every single appointment, to save yourself from unwanted surprises and missed meetings. Just remember to schedule time for yourself and honor your appointment with yourself just as much as you would keep an appointment with anyone else.
Accept yourself as you are. Let yourself off the hook and accept that you are human. You are doing your absolute best and you are learning how to do what is healthy, happy, and right for you. Trust your instincts, follow your heart, and keep moving forward towards creating a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside.
If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and you still don’t feel good, it might be time to seek professional help. Im a big believer in therapists, coaches, and hiring neutral professional parties to aid us in our health. Input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can motivate us to do things for ourselves that we were not able to do on our own. Here are a few signs its time to get help from a professional:
- Inability to sleep
- Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
- Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life
- Using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions
- Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you identify with any of these red flag symptoms, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional. Know that It’s OK to want help, you deserve to live a life that feels good from the inside out.
You can eat right, exercise, and sleep all you want, but you can’t have a healthy body without a healthy mind first. What does emotional self care really mean?? It means letting go of the things we cannot control. It means listening to our intuition, embracing all of our imperfections, and staying authentic to who we are. It means staying grounded in the present and making mental space to find clarity. It means taking the time to discover our interior barriers and finding the courage to dissolve them. It means learning to be gentle with ourselves and enjoy our lives with a present, positive, mindset. Its daily work in progress and YOU are worth every ounce of sweat.
I encourage you to begin to explore how you can take care of your emotional self so that you can fully experience life. The happiness of your life starts with the quality of your thoughts. Take care of your spiritual health and you’ll live a happy life from the inside out.
Did you like this post? Share it with your friends on Facebook, twitter, or email. Join me in the theme of #selfcare for the month of April. More great content is headed your way this month on the topic of taking care of your very best interest: YOU.
With lots of love,
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