The Basics of Emotional Wellness

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Hi everyone! So happy that you’re here reading part two of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. This week’s post will be an introduction to emotional well-being and the traits that we exude when we’re healthy in this realm of life. Out of the six dimensions of wellness that I outlined last week, I believe that emotional wellness is the most crucial area needed in order to lead a contended lifestyle. You might have all of the other aspects of life balanced, but without emotional stability, you’re probably finding that things are feeling a bit chaotic or under-the-weather.

The two most important characteristics of emotional wellness are the ability to acknowledge your emotions and to express them in appropriate ways. Most people that I’ve met seem to be very out of touch with how they’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. We often don’t take the time to listen to our subconscious, inner thoughts enough in order to read what we need more or less of in our lives.

But acknowledging and accepting your emotions, no matter how ashamed having them might make you feel, is such an important step for getting to know yourself better and understanding how to work with your emotions.

I’ve found that how we view others and treat them is usually a mirror to how we’re feeling deep inside. Challenge yourself to be hyper-aware of your negative thoughts for a week, and try to critique all of them to find out what they really mean. Don’t take your emotions at face value!

For example: My boyfriend has been feeling unlike himself in the past few days. He’s been stressed, and his normally joyful, funny personality just isn’t shining through as brightly. But before Stefan acknowledged his emotions and told me all about how he was feeling last night, I was starting to feel panicked. I put it all on myself and wondered if I’d done something wrong. But when I think about it- was he treating me any differently? Nope, still as loving as ever. Was he being mean to me? Definitely not! So I was projecting my insecure feelings onto him, like it was his fault they were bubbling up from my past, when really those emotions were just about my own baggage.

We project our emotions onto other people all the time, even when they have nothing to do with how we’re feeling. You know what I’m talking about… The mother who is scared about not being able to pay next month’s rent but takes that fear and lashes out at her kids. The colleague who always makes your dreams seem insignificant when really he’s upset because he hasn’t pursued any of his goals. If we try to see these emotional mirrors in ourselves and other people, we become so much better at expressing ourselves in a healthy way.

There are too many ways to express emotions for me to go through them all here, but to simplify things a bit, we can assume that any emotional reaction on an extreme side of the spectrum probably doesn’t count as “appropriate.” Here are a few examples:

  • Yelling or getting enraged about insignificant issues
  • Criticizing others when you’re feeling down about yourself
  • Bottling up all of your thoughts and feelings so that you won’t upset others

The above three examples are emotional extremes that will get you all wound up with poisonous, angry feelings without them actually helping your life one bit. They will only serve to push the people in your life away from you. I know from experience! When I was younger, I had tons of anger and bitterness trapped inside of me, and I had no clue how to properly express it. Instead, I got into verbal fights with anyone and everyone around me- especially authority figures! The funny thing is, I was so angry because I craved more love and quality time from those important to me, but my behavior only pushed people away more.

So what can you do to better acknowledge and express your true feelings? Here are some ideas:

Reflect

Like I said above, take a week to be extra aware of any time you feel a negative emotion- anger, sadness, jealousy, insecurity, judgment, etc. In the moments when you’re feeling that way, explore the “why” part of the problem. Why are you feeling this way? Deep down, is it really about the situation/ person at hand, or is it something in you? Perhaps it’s an issue from your past, or an insecurity that this person has absolutely nothing to do with. Dig around in those feelings to understand yourself more.

Move On

Once you’ve done that, don’t beat yourself up about it! If you’ve found that you’re directing your negative emotions at the wrong person/ issue, don’t make yourself feel guilty and sad. Just accept that it happened, apologize sincerely, and move on to change your emotional well-being for the better!

Be Positive

Learn from your mistakes in a positive way. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but the people with emotional wellness are the ones who act to change their behaviors. Acknowledging emotions is the first step, but then we have to work to use them in a healthy way. Take it day by day! Be nice to yourself.

Love

It might sound cheesy or hippy-ish, but just choose love. When you feel the urge to say something judgmental or to react angrily, think: Do they deserve this? Will this make their life or my life any better? The answer is probably “no.” So instead, choose to love. Be kind. Why are we so harsh with our words anyway? The more often you choose the loving reaction, the more it will become a behavioral habit. Before you know it, your life will feel so much more positive and emotionally stable. That’s what happened to me when I was younger and lashing out all the time. I decided that I was sick of feeling constantly angry and mean, and I allowed the softer, sweet side of my personality to shine though. Now, that nice person is who I view myself as completely (but with some sass left over for fun, of course!).

Make Happiness a Priority

Straighten out your priorities and align your emotions with them. Make your emotional wellness important to your life. Are there certain people or activities that are depleting you of happiness? If you aren’t being treated the way you deserve to be treated, with kindness and respect, then let them go. People and activities that selfishly bring you down don’t deserve your time. You have the right to be happy just as much as anyone else.

Meditate

Practice meditating to gain more clarity in your mind and calm in your life. If you have a hyperactive brain, try activities like yoga, dancing, surfing, or doodling. They’ll provide a similar effect by keeping your mind focused on one task instead of worrying about a million life issues.

Ask for Help

Don’t try to go about hard times alone. Find people that you can open up to so that you can keep emotions from building up inside. And if you’re having serious emotional problems that are dramatically altering your life, please visit a therapist or doctor!


I could literally create an entire blog about the importance of emotional wellness and tips for stabilizing this area of life, so I hope this post can work as a basic introduction to the overwhelming amount of information I could give! If you have any specific questions for me regarding this topic, please leave it in the comments below! The next post in the series will cover spiritual wellness- one of the areas that I’d like to improve more in myself.

So what do you need to improve upon emotionally? Do you need to be more communicative about how you’re feeling with your significant other? Or maybe you need to filter yourself better, because you say things that *sting* too much? Let me know below, and please share with your friends! 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend,

xo Caylee

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Any Type of Person Can Have Depression, Even “Happy” Girls Like Me

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As the shocking and heartbreaking news about the death of Robin Williams was heard around the world this week, my brain was spinning with how many celebrities have either committed suicide or accidentally overdosed after self-medicating their depression. The common thread that I notice in online comments goes something like this: “How could a person who seems so happy be so depressed?”

Everyone wants to believe the stereotype that those with depression are always outwardly gloomy and withdrawn. Then they can feel comforted and think, “Nope! I don’t know anybody who fits that description! All my friends and family act happily, so we’re safe.”

Well, that’s just the thing – happiness can be an act. Some of us are damn good at pretending like everything is peachy perfect and that we’re not crumbling on the inside. Take me, for example. I’ve struggled with depression, on-and-off, since middle school. I’ve learned how to hide it well, because there’s such a huge stigma attached to depression and related mental illnesses. I never wanted new friends or potential employers to think that I wasn’t worth getting to know because I sometimes struggle with depression. And that’s part of the problem. The fact that I feel embarrassed about my feelings and have to hide this big part of my life makes me feel even more ashamed and depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.

I know a surprisingly large number of people who have struggled with depression, and almost all of them feel like they have to hide this about themselves out of fear of not being accepted anymore. One time, when I’d been in a major low for a while, a former boyfriend of mine yelled at me to snap out of it and stop being pathetic. What did this experience with him teach me? It taught me that I need to constantly fake being happy so that people will like me and respect me. I need to crack jokes, smile, and be amazingly conversational all the time in order to be loved. That’s what we’ve all learned. Are these useful talents in life? Definitely. But did I feel more alone than ever because most people have no clue that I struggle emotionally? Yes, yes, yes.

We need to allow people with depression to come forward and talk about their experiences without the stigma. We need to love them instead of shunning them and making them feel even more alone. If you had good conversations with me and laughed with me before you knew I had depression, why does anything have to change now? If I was lovable before you knew I had depression, why can’t I be just as lovable after? Yes, I deal with depression, but that doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define any of us. I can still be a great girlfriend, employee, friend, daughter, and adventurer. I don’t need any sympathy – I just want to be able to talk about my own life experience without feeling ashamed. I believe that is something we all deserve.

As a final note to give you some more background about my situation, I don’t take any medications for depression and never have. Instead, I worked with a famous psychiatrist to develop a holistic lifestyle plan that helps alleviate my depression. It was through that work with her that I’ve seen how important holistic wellness is to living a life of happiness and health. My goal in life is to continue down this path and help others lead a life of wellness too. I now feel more happy and stable than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m so excited to share my passions with you!

It was honestly very difficult to write this post, because the thought of repercussions can be scary. I feel very vulnerable, but I also know I’m speaking my truth. Hopefully my voice will add to shedding light on the fact that depression is a very common issue for diverse types of people. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I know this blog post is more serious than my usual ones, but I felt it was pertinent and necessary. Lighter ones to come! 🙂

Love to all of you,

xo Caylee

The Gutsy Girl’s Summer Bucket List

Grab a pencil and paper, guys. It’s not too late to start making an awesome summer bucket list.

In my eyes, all fleeting things in existence deserve a bucket list to be made for them. They seem to create a sense of urgency in the way that we only have a set amount of time to finish something meaningful to us. A bucket list allows us to remember our goals more easily and gives a sense of achievement when we can mark our pen through each item.

There has been a bucket list for all occasions – One for all of the new things I wanted to try before college graduation a few years ago, one for what I hope to accomplish before I turn 30 years-old, one for all of the big ticket experiences I want to have before I die… And one for awesome activities to do this summer.

Since summer is already half-way over, I’m gonna have to move quickly to cross everything off of my list! For the record, I’ve never once completed all of the items on any of my dozens of bucket lists, but I have a special feeling about this summer. It’s going to be a crossing-off-my-bucket-list-bonanza! Want to join me? Here we goooooo!

 

  • Go to a local farmer’s market & learn some of the vendors’ stories. Getting to know where your food comes from can be such an interesting experience, and the farmers are often very passionate about what they do.
  • Learn something new & document your progress publicly. I would like to learn a new song, by heart, on my ukulele and then upload it onto the blog.
  • Plan a picnic at the park with someone meaningful in your life. Bring a supply of food you know they will love, and enjoy a few hours lounging outside together.
  • Try out a new type of yoga or fitness class that is outside of your comfort zone. Krav Maga? Kundalini yoga? A Bollywood dance fitness workout? Do it!
  • Make a new friend in your industry. Try to partner up on a small project, do a guest blog post swap, or interview each other for new business insights.
  • Finish 3 great books & write reviews to share with others who you think could benefit from reading them too.
  • Do something absolutely crazy – live with passion and purpose. Fall in love. Try an improv class. Start the amazing thing you’ve been too afraid to fail at. Be vulnerable and let your genuine, imperfect self be seen. Go whitewater rafting. Take a road trip. Just do something brave. Yes, please.
  • See a play or live show that is outside of what you’d normally enjoy. You might just discover something new to love!
  • Go on a nature hike & and make a mandala with all of the outdoor goodies you find along the way (twigs, flowers, rocks, leaves, etc).
  • Paint a canvas using just your intuition. Don’t plan it out and draw a picture with pencil beforehand – just create, wildly in the moment.

The Challenge:

So if you’re with me in trying to cross off this summer bucket list, let’s make a whole social media event out of it! Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to cross off as many of these list items as you can before September 1st. Use this blog as a jumping off point for inspiration! Write posts about your experience completing the bucket list challenges, and link back to this blog and let me know you’re participating. At the beginning of September, I’ll do a blog roll featuring your links and the awesome bucket list items you’ve achieved this summer. Also, if you’re a Twitter or Instagram fan, take this step below to feature our Gutsy Girl themed pictures together:

Think about it… We have a limited number of beautiful, bursting-with-life summers to enjoy in our time here on Earth. Be gutsy, and make this summer a passionate one. 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend,

xo Caylee