Did you know that your emotional state affects the quality of your life and your health? When stressed, anxious, frazzled, depressed, or worried, for instance, hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon flow through your body. These hormones increase heart levels, amp blood pressure, scatter thinking, tighten muscles, make us vulnerable to colds, increase insomnia, lower sex drive, and tend to make us reactive. There is a direct link to high levels of chronic stress and the development of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, depression, aggression, and autoimmune disease — not to mention low back, shoulder, neck, and jaw tension, plus headaches. For that reason, doctors, psychologists, and wellness and meditation experts agree that emotional check-ups are as important as your annual physical exams for your wellbeing and life satisfaction.
You don't need to speak to a professional - we explain how you can do an emotional check up on yourself:
Check In On You
Tuning into your emotional and mental state can seem daunting for some. If this feels like you, perhaps seek the assistance of a therapist, yoga teacher, or life coach. Deep breathing, meditation, and journaling to reflect on how you feel can help you assess during times of great change or stress — as well as when things are going smoothly. You can see any areas of your life that might need attention. Becoming more mindful about how you feel, and then detaching from judgement about your feelings when necessary, are important tools. It allows us to find solutions to feel better. It also allows to become more aware of when we try to avoid our feelings (some are scared of them) by distractions such as over-eating, shopping, controlling or focusing more on others). When we control what we can: our thinking, our habits, our environment, who we surround ourselves with — and cultivate a gratitude mindset — we can begin to feel happy and content no matter what others do or say. This is the path to serenity — which creates what physicians call homeostasis in the body, where hormones and moods become more stable.
The Power of Insight
Just as a good physical report may encourage you to continue exercising and eating well, validation of emotional wellness is strong reinforcement. When you see that what you’re doing to feel fulfilled is working — you’ll want to keep it up. On the flipside, identifying an imbalance in your emotional health can help, too — though figuring out the cause of it takes a little effort. You may need to reflect and dig deep to understand how you’re doing and what might be bothering you.
Perhaps you feel like current circumstances are overwhelming, or your life is more than you can handle? You might see that you’re going through the motions, but don’t feel particularly satisfied, or that you’re sad lately and not sure why. Taking the time to identify these feelings will help you get back in touch with yourself. Seeking assistance is OK. With this awareness, you might figure out how to address a challenging situation or make peace with something, or someone, you can’t change.
There are several ways to check in with your emotions, including conversations with friends, family, a trusted advisor, or self-reflection. (Of course, set boundaries and ask yourself whether certain friends or family can be detached, trusted, and good listeners. A therapist or spiritual counsellor may allow you to be more honest and not worried about hurting their feelings or causing concern.) Before you begin this check-in conversation, however, experts advise that think about how you feel when you wake up, when you’re doing your daily activities, and when you go to bed. Consider the state of your relationships and how the interactions and conversations you have with those people make you feel. Note what fulfils you spiritually, what makes you smile and laugh, and what makes you upset and worried. Explore all the parts of your life that influence your emotions. Write about them in a journal, especially the areas of your life that you enjoy and are most grateful for.
Life Satisfaction Scale
A visual aid can help clarify your thoughts. Simply rate each of these areas on a scale of 1-10:
Your honest numbers provide a graphic representation of how you feel, as you’ll see what you feel good about and where you’re lacking in contentment. You may realise where you’ve been putting more time and energy and what you’re neglecting. For instance, if you notice areas that could use improvement, consider solutions that work with your lifestyle. You may come to realize that you’d like to slow down at work, but not retire. Or perhaps you decide that you’d finally take that holiday you’ve always wanted. If your health is not where you want it to be, and/or your stress levels are high, you may want to explore practices like meditation, gentle yoga, spiritual journaling, or prayer. Science shows that meditation assists with getting a good night’s sleep — which lowers hormones that cause you to be hungry. Lowering stress, helps you repair on a cellular level and get more sleep, and find balance, which can lead to feelings of peace.
Other strategies? A daily nature walk with your dog, friend, or partner. Try scheduling a weekly phone call with that supportive and funny friend who always uplifts you. Pursue a new hobby with a group, commit to a relaxation ritual, such as a bubble bath with a face mask, or scheduling a weekly massage.
Commit to Your Checkups
Regular emotional checkups help you see how you’re doing over time. They motivate you to continue healthy practices that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. By doing them, you can build your emotional resilience and better handle tough situations, or those times when you don’t feel like yourself.
If you are feeling especially down, don’t feel shy about speaking with your doctor or a therapist who can help you get to the root of how you’re feeling and find solutions that work for you. While it may feel uncomfortable to make the call and say: ‘I don’t feel right,’ always remember that your emotional wellbeing is just as important as if you had a physical medical problem, as they are interrelated. Put yourself, and your wellbeing, first. When you thrive, you give a gift to everyone in your life — the inspiration of your happiness.