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How to improve emotional health in 2018

How to improve emotional health in 2018
A healthy sense of self can only be perceived through feeling

Learning how to build a healthy relationship with yourself is all about developing emotional awareness and respect. In order for you to feel whole, it is vital that you learn how to listen, validate and regulate your own emotions.  A healthy sense of self can only be perceived through feeling, be it negative or positive, or an ambivalent combination of both. Since there is no means of learning or even becoming ourselves without it, the value of our emotional health should not be underestimated. If you are determined to live a more fulfilling and pleasant existence, here is how to improve emotional health in 2018:

Become more emotionally aware

There is no better way to become more emotionally aware than simply taking the time to notice how you feel. If you are not able to identify your own emotions with the help of your intellect, direct your attention back to the body. Bodily sensations can often tell you what your brain sometimes struggles to explain through words. How does it feel to be you in this particular moment? Scan your body from head to toe – especially the regions that are prone to registering emotional disturbance, such as the stomach, chest, neck, shoulders and forehead – and analyse what is there. Do you feel a lightness or heaviness in those parts? Is your breathing short or deep? Are those regions relaxed or tense? What can they tell you about your needs and emotional state?

Respect negative emotions

Feeling whole is not viable without emotional congruence. Contrary to popular belief, emotional neglect is not an effective way of dealing with emotions, but a dysfunctional coping strategy that only leads to unhappiness, as well as mental health and relationship problems. If you feel uncomfortable, inadequate, sad or anxious, there is, most likely, a good reason for it. Even if your feelings are dysregulated, exaggerated or do not seem to reflect reality, that in itself is information of a potential mental health issue that needs your attention. Life and self-improvement are unattainable when you ignore or try to repress negative emotions. Being attentive to what is not a good fit and stands in the way of personal contentment, growth and development is a clever attitude for those who want to empower themselves through feeling.

Learn how to self-regulate

Validating your emotions does not mean being completely at their mercy. There are times that they have to be to dealt with and not only felt. Learning how to self-soothe and control your emotions independently is true autonomy. Not dealing with your feelings consciously and proactively often leads to addictions and other mental health problems. In order to deal with negative emotions healthily, motivate yourself and be creative. There is no fixed recipe for relaxation and well-being, since as individuals; we experience emotions in our own unique ways. Discover what works for you and fits your personality through exploring new ways of finding inner peace, be it through exercise, physical activity, relaxation or breathing exercises, meditation, reading, dancing, taking a hot bath, etc.

Seek emotional support

Life is often also made of stressful and even traumatic events that may be difficult to deal with emotionally. If you feel overwhelmed and nothing seems to ease your pain or anxiety, it may be time to seek the help of a mental health professional. There is no shame in feeling vulnerable and in need of a fresh perspective. Most of us go through tough times in our lives, even when we are too proud or ashamed to admit it. If you feel the need and have the means to go see a counsellor, I highly recommend it, especially if you do not feel comfortable talking about your feelings with others or were raised by emotionally neglectful parents. Therapy can be a productive environment in where to learn new problem-solving skills and coping strategies, which become yours for life.

The festive period might not be a cheerful time to everyone, but it has the potential to incite a feeling for positive change in a lot of us. If you “have had enough” of feeling demotivated and empty inside, following the above may help you reconnect with the whole of you, including those parts that have been neglected. To honour who you are in 2018, let go of beliefs about feelings that rob us from our humanity, or the ability to feel and connect with ourselves, others and the world around us. After all, being emotionally healthy is nothing that requires super extraordinary powers, but an honest and open attitude to interacting with the inner and outer world through feelings.

5 common beliefs of procrastinators

Procrastination is a very familiar problem. If you often feel that you struggle to self-motivate, you may be prone to procrastinating. As negative beliefs are at the root of our most common psychological vulnerabilities, it is helpful to become aware of the attitudes, rules and assumptions that are stopping you from getting things done.

Here are 5 common beliefs of procrastinators:

1- “If I can’t do my best, it’s not worth doing it”

Perfectionism is not a skill, but a self-confidence killer. A perfectionist wastes precious time on unproductive thinking while life passes him by. You can learn how to embrace your humanity by accepting the idea of trial and error and celebrating your efforts. Ten thousand “good enough” actions are much more rewarding in the long term than carrying out a single perfect one.

2- “No risk, no disappointment”

5 common beliefs of procrastinators
Procrastination is a very familiar problem

If you value your efforts – and not only perfect results – you are not afraid of taking risks. Self-confidence is nurtured from the inside out. Practice self-compassion whenever you are brave enough to get out of your comfort zone. Tell yourself that trying is as good as winning and act as your own best friend. Praise yourself even when it feels like no one else seems to be taking notice of you. Do not wait for outside recognition to build an inner sense of self-esteem, but let unconditional self-love guide you through your endeavours.

3- “Nothing ever works out for me anyway”

In CBT, such statements/automatic thoughts are classified as cognitive errors due to their unrealistic perspective. To tell yourself that absolutely nothing works out for you is too global and simplistic a statement to be reflective of objective truth. Aren’t you failing to recognise some of the good things that you have managed to achieve? It sounds as if you were allowing perfectionism to undermine your self-confidence.

4- “If I don’t feel like it doing it, it means I shouldn’t”

You would be surprised by how untrue such belief actually is. When you manage to overcome that initial resistance, you usually find that you can carry on doing what you have set yourself to do with reasonable ease. Motivate yourself by developing a higher tolerance to discomfort, little by little. Make it your thing to challenge thinking that seems to be working against you. Question negative and unproductive cognitions through raising self-awareness. After all, who is in control of you, your self or your thoughts?

5- “I don’t have time for this”

Really? Or isn’t that just another excuse not to dedicate yourself to something new or make some positive changes in your life? If you genuinely feel that time is against you, it may be a good idea to work out what you are actually doing with it. Take a few minutes during the next week to write down what you do on an hourly basis, every day of the week from Monday to Sunday. Then analyse your findings and assess how you have been managing your time. What are your priority tasks? What activities could be excluded, shortened or extended in order to allow you to attain your self-improvement goals? Actively structuring your daily routine is a self-empowering initiative that gives you a renewed sense of control and responsibility over your own life.

To win the battle against procrastination and become more productive, be attentive to errors in your thinking. Thoughts that are too general or send out a message of rigidity, perfectionism or bias towards the negative, for instance, are renowned for resulting in personal conflict and feelings of inadequacy. Targeting dysfunctional thinking requires little effort and dedication from your part, while it helps you realise your potential in a healthy and independent way.