How to Practice Emotional Self Care?
Emotions cause physical and psychological changes that often influence our thoughts and behavior. Our emotions are the most present force in our lives. We get so distracted in our day to day lives that sometimes caring for our emotions gets put on the back burner. We have to consciously practice emotional self care.
Emotional self care is the process of being self-aware of your emotions. And taking the steps to honor and care for these emotions. This is often easier said than done.
Self-reflection of your emotions can often be painful. Coming face to face with your feelings can make you feel uncomfortable.
It is much easier to be distracted by the busy-ness of your life and push your feelings under the carpet. But, the negative feelings build up over time. We need to understand and honor where our emotions are coming from, that is when can learn to release and resolve them. I am highlighting 10 easy ways I practice emotional self care for my inner peace.
10 Easy Ways To Practice Emotional Self Care
Journaling has many benefits. It can lower stress levels, improve memory, boost mood and strengthen the immune system. It is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Expressive writing by hand increases the activity in the brain’s motor cortex. Which is the same effect we observe with MRI machines when someone is meditating. This can offer you more clarity.
Journaling was one of the first things I started doing on my journey to better my emotional health. It really helps me understand my feelings at a deeper level. It is one of the powerful habits I acquired. The difference for me was immediate.
If you only incorporate one thing in your routine to practice emotional self care I encourage it to be journaling.
2. Practice gratitude and appreciation
It is a powerful and spiritual process that helps us acknowledge the goodness in our life. Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, relish in good experiences and memories.
Research has proven that grateful people experience lower levels of stress, cope better with adversity, sleep better and lead more satisfied lives. When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters responsible for our feel ‘good’ state.
I incorporate this into my daily journaling. Also, I try to be specific about what I am grateful for which really helps me be present in that moment.
3. Put your own needs first
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”, obvious right? Yet so many of us experience guilt prioritizing our own needs and emotional well being before others.
Self care is a necessity and should not be viewed as indulgence or selfishness. This is especially important if you have young children. Kids learn by watching.
We need to be kind to ourselves first and create our own happiness and only then we can take better care of the people dependent on us.
4. Have clear boundaries
Human beings are natural empaths. So, it is easier to absorb other people’s energy and emotions. The impact of it can be exhausting! We need to learn to set healthy boundaries with everyone in our lives or to completely cut toxic individuals out.
It is okay to say no to people or places that no longer agree with your inner peace. Although it may not be a popular opinion at first, but never let their emotions become your own. Which is even more crucial if you already struggle to prioritize your own emotional needs.
5. Practice self-compassion
We can all be critical of ourselves and our bodies. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace in difficult situations.
It is okay to ask for help when you are overwhelmed with life. Although, it is important to set healthy boundaries with certain individuals in our life. That does not mean we should not have a support system.
Nurture positive friendships and relationships that support and understand you and do the same for them.
6. Discover a new hobby
Doing something you love allows you to de-stress while still being mentally productive. Hobbies can give us a great sense of mastery and control.
Hobbies can be
- Physical activities such as hiking, yoga, biking, running, swimming, climbing.
- Social activities such as book clubs, dancing, cooking classes, volunteering, dog walk meetups.
- Self-improvement activities such as journaling, solo travel, continued learning, reading, meditating. You may even enjoy doing home improvement projects.
- Tapping into your creative side such as photography, painting, song writing, cooking, gardening, knitting.
A hobby is the best way to spend our spare time and unwind from our daily routines. Having a hobby is not just about having ‘me time’ but its crucial for our well being.
7. Follow your intuition
Each one of us have heard “trust your gut”. But what does it really mean and how does that help us with our emotional health? Trusting your gut is the ultimate act of trusting yourself. It is innate and within all of us.
Intuition leads to better decision making. Imagine being able to make decisions quick without overthinking and less stress. That is the kind of power intuitive thinking offers. Listening to our intuition can help us avoid unhealthy relationships and situations.
I can write a whole article on the benefits of exercising. In short, it has been scientifically proven that exercise helps us with many different things.
Some benefits include
- Better mood
- Increased energy
- Regulated emotions
- Better sleep
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave us feeling happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. If you are new in your exercising journey, start by taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood.
9. Enjoy your own company
One way to do this is to meditate. Mental health benefits include better focus, concentration, improved self-awareness, and self-esteem. It also helps lower stress levels and anxiety. You do not need any special equipment. Start with few minutes daily a couple of times a day. There are many different types of meditations such as
Check out this variety of free guided meditation exercises offered by the University of California Los Angeles. It is an excellent source to learn different styles and find the one that suits you.
A study done in 2009 at the University of Sussex showed that reading is the best way to overcome stress. Even over activities such as going for a walk or listening to music.
The participants read content that they found enjoyable. While the researchers measured the participant’s heart rate and muscle tension. They saw that it took only six minutes for readers to ease their tensions once they began reading.
Reading 15-20 mins before bedtime is a great way to relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
While physical self care helps us feel good on the outside, emotional self care helps us grow stronger mentally. It teaches us to heal ourselves.
These are just some examples of how I practice emotional self care. Remember Rome was not built in a day. Important work takes time. It takes practice and conscious effort to prioritize your own needs first.
Come up with an emotional self care plan that works for your lifestyle, create your own emotional “toolbox”.