October is Emotional Wellness Month. Who knew? Let’s take a look at some of the ways that mindfulness improves emotional wellness, as well as some simple practices you can do to create calm in the daily chaos of life.
Emotional Wellness Month reminds us to “disconnect and take a time-out for our brain” amid our overbooked, distracted, and uncertain lives. As we continue living through a pandemic, and the noise and negativity that dominates our newsfeeds, who doesn’t need a shot of mindful emotional wellness?
One reason humans have survived on this planet for so long is our brains have adapted to constantly consider “what if” scenarios. But in modern humans, “What if a lion is in this cave?” has been replaced with a never-ending playlist of fears, from worries about COVID-19 to apprehension over global warming and natural and political disasters.
Checking to see if a man-eating feline is in the cave before we occupy it had real benefits for our survival. But constantly ruminating on things over which we have little control does not. In fact, the opposite is true. Consider all the ways stress harms our health.
Fortunately, mindfulness is a wonderfully simply way to break the cycle of worry and stress.
Any time we pay attention to what we are thinking, feeling, and doing in the moment, we are practicing mindfulness. When we practice being present, observing and accepting our thoughts and feelings without judgment, we give our overworked nervous systems a break. This calms the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for processing fearful or threatening stimuli. This is a very important part of emotional wellness that has big implications for our physical health as well. By reducing the flow of stress hormones in our bodies, mindfulness helps reduce inflammation and boosts the immune system.
To experience greater emotional wellness, we should bake mindful practices into our daily routines.
Here are some mindful methods you can practice throughout your day to help you stay calm in the chaos:
Download the Insight Timer app and pick a guided meditation to do every day. Insight Timer now has over 100,000 meditations, but don’t freak out — they are organized and searchable by length, topic and author. I’ve got a nice collection on there, including ones on Giving and Receiving Compassion and Loving Kindness and Letting Go that are good for emotional wellness. Try a few and pick the ones that speak to you and fit your schedule.
Get grounded through the soles of your feet or by rubbing a here-and-now stone.
Practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth.
Take time out for mindful eating.
Stroll with a purpose with mindful walking.
Practice taking in the good.
Be in the moment with your favorite music. Make a playlist of songs that move you.
Practice the Sending-Receiving Meditation.
Try calling yourself “sweetheart,” “dear,” or another term of endearment.
Engage in Loving Kindness Meditation for yourself and others.
Combining mindfulness with self-compassion is one of the best ways to soothe yourself and strengthen your emotional wellness. Remember the acronym S.N.A.P. and practice it whenever you feel overwhelmed, anxious, triggered, exhausted or otherwise stressed out.
S.N.A.P. stands for:
When you feel stress, place your hands on your body wherever where you find it soothing. It might be your chest, belly, hugging your upper arms, or cradling your face — experiment to find what works for you. Or put your hands on any area where you feel constriction, and envision a warm compress or warm oil softening the tension. Soothing, supportive touch releases oxytocin and endorphins that help calm your nervous system.
Name the Emotion
Name what you are feeling right now. Is it worry? Sadness? Anger? Loneliness? This helps calm your body’s stress response, gives you time to locate it in your body, and puts some perspective between you and your feelings.
Ask yourself: “What do I need right now?” and then do it. Perhaps you need to take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly to lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. Or choose any of the 10 activities listed above to give yourself a few moments of mindful calm and relaxation.
Give thanks for the things you can do to help manage stress. Thank yourself for showing up day after day, trying to do your best. Thank the universe, or your spirit of choice, for giving you the strength and courage to keep going.
Practicing gratitude is a great way to slow down and break the cycles of negativity and stress we find ourselves in. It’s also a comforting way to rewire your brain for happiness.
As the weather turns cool, try some of these mindful methods to help you stay chill. Think of them as exercises to bolster your emotional health and build resilience so you can feel and do your best each day.
thank you for this uplifting post