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I think by now we’ve all been incorporating more self-care routines into our life.
We might be following a healthy diet, exercising more, meeting up with friends, reading a good book in a nearby coffee shop, or booking a massage every now and then. But the bigger question remains: How well are we taking care of ourselves emotionally?
After we have given our bodies the love they need and our minds the stimulation they so deeply crave, what have we given our hearts? By hearts I mean the chest area in particular. It’s where we feel anger and calm, love and hatred, satisfaction and disappointment. It’s where our intuition speaks and where we feel “heavy” or good.
It’s easy to overlook this specific type of self-care, as it needs more attention and energy. It’s easy to book a massage, go to the gym, or open a book, but looking inward is extremely tough—and not all of us are willing (or have the time) to do it.
Today I invite you to not take your emotional health lightly. Practicing emotional self-care is as important as exercising, walking, or watching a movie. Without a strong emotional foundation, our days are messy and chaotic.
What is precisely emotional self-care?
Emotional self-care could mean different things to different people. For me, when I think of emotional self-care, self-control and emotional regulation come to mind. To take care of my emotional health, I need to care about my feelings and choose how they affect my days.
The truth is, we can never know what will happen next. No one could predict wars, pandemics, breakups, or death. No one could predict anything, really. That said, we need to be emotionally prepared for the worst instead of being beaten down by its uncertainty.
Furthermore, a healthy and well-regulated emotional system makes room for inner peace and happiness. We could never be at peace as long as we are interrupted by any negative emotion that arises.
There are many ways we can practice emotional self-care, but here are seven that have personally helped me:
1. Choose how you’d cope with difficult situations. It might seem a bit silly to prepare in advance our emotional reactions (and probably a bit unmanageable at times, especially when we’re in the midst of an emotional storm), but delineating the most logical and beneficial reaction is helpful. When we decide beforehand how to respond to certain (most likely challenging) situations, we don’t go into utter shock over what has transpired. Imagine and consciously choose how you’d react to a loved one’s death, a breakup, a fight, a pandemic, or any other situation that might be devastating.
2. Journal. Never underestimate the power of a few words on a blank paper. Journaling has tremendously helped me with regulating my emotions and understanding them. When we write what we’re feeling, we gain automatic insight. Even if you’re angry or not in the mood, write a few words and see how you feel afterward.
3. Accept and feel your emotions from moment to moment. “Honor your feelings.” You might have read this in most recent spiritual posts, but this is exactly what it means: Accept your feelings. Validate them. Make space for them. This is extremely important in our emotional self-care journey. If we only accept our good feelings and dismiss negative ones, we might not be living fully. Whatever you are feeling right now, let it be. And even if it doesn’t feel good, it will eventually dissipate. I promise.
4. Express your needs and feelings. With every personal need comes a feeling. If we need a hug, it means we need love. If we need to be alone, it means we need to recharge. If we need to talk, it means we need to let off steam. If we need to go out, it means we need freedom or happiness. Consequently, when we suppress our needs and wants, we suppress the associated emotion, which…never ends well. If you want to take better care of your emotions, learn how to communicate what you want. You will feel much better.
5. Spend some time alone. Even if you hate it, even if you think alone time is some spiritual nonsense, please give yourself a few minutes every day. When we’re alone, we get to have one-on-one time with our feelings. We get to feel, think, reminisce, cry, laugh, smile, dance! Let your mind and emotions wander. It’s okay; it’s not bad. Your mind and body deserve a few minutes away from everyone else, especially when you feel tired or drained.
6. Reach out to a friend. Although I suck at staying in touch with my closest friends, I can’t deny how better it makes me feel when I reach out to them and open up. Staying connected with our friends and close ones is an underrated form of therapy. You get to speak your mind and in return feel an enormous amount of support and love—which is vital to our emotional health.
7. Be kind to yourself. What does it mean to be kind or compassionate toward our own selves? It means to try again if we fail. To not judge our behaviors. To be proud of ourselves. To forgive ourselves, even when we’ve done a terrible mistake. To try again tomorrow. Please, be your own best friend. You live in this body and soul, and they need nurturance before anyone else. It’s easy to overlook something that’s significantly close to us, that’s why we need to pay more attention to us.