Engagement & Wellbeing: Enhancing Emotional Health While Social Distancing
Our emotional wellbeing is often impacted by what’s happening in other areas of our lives. If stressful events are taking place in our community or if we are not feeling our best physically or if we have financial challenges, our emotional health can be negatively impacted. If we are disconnected from friends and family or lack a sense of meaning in our everyday lives it can be challenging to maintain a positive attitude to get through the day. However, by making a concerted, deliberate effort to tend to our emotional wellbeing, we can develop the resiliency and mindset needed to navigate life’s challenges. Here are several ways to enhance your emotional wellbeing:
Research shows that loneliness is a stronger predictor of mental health than mental health is a predictor of loneliness. Having meaningful, regular connections with friends and family is integral to our emotional wellbeing. While meeting a friend for lunch or visiting grandparents on a weekend can be good for the soul, fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others frequently, without having to be in person. Reach out to loved ones via phone, text, or video chat to connect on the day, laugh together, and support each other.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Connecting with a deep sense of gratitude for what is going right in our lives can protect our brains from negative thoughts and the rumination that often accompanies them. By incorporating a regular gratitude practice, we can train our brains to actually feel more grateful. Writing a handwritten, heartfelt note of gratitude to a friend or family member can help shift your focus to positive emotions. Similarly, taking daily inventory of three to four specific people or things that happened that day for which you are grateful, can help tip the proverbial scales toward greater overall feelings of positivity. An added benefit is when you share with others your gratitude for them and the feelings of connectedness and warmth that arise from that exchange.
Physically. Physical activity is essential to maintaining emotional wellbeing and helps increase the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Take a walk around your neighborhood and get fresh air. Try an at-home workout using resources via YouTube or phone apps.
Mentally. Whether it’s crafting, playing an instrument, or working on a puzzle, make sure you are switching up your down-time and not just zoning out to the TV. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be very instrumental in easing stress and anxiety. Try using an app like Calm or Headspace, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Seek Help and Help Others
Finally, giving back to others by volunteering, donating to charity, or otherwise lending a helping hand can enhance our emotional wellbeing—it feels good, we achieve a sense of purpose, and we create and deepen connections with others. Offer to help a colleague with a project, send uplifting notes to those in nursing homes, shop local, foster an animal from a local shelter, or use a special skill or hobby that you have to lift up someone else.
Emotional wellbeing is paramount to our overall health and our ability to get through challenging times. Moreover, nurturing it can help make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
If you have concerns about your mental health, please contact your mental health professional or call your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). SAMHSA’s National Helpline is also just a phone call away at 800-662-HELP (4357). The CDC offers several resources on mental health; for example, Managing Stress and Anxiety during COVID-19 outbrea