Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit— the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.
Emotional wellness. Psychological well-being. Mental health.
Regardless of what you call it, this much is certain: It is essential for every one of us.
Unfortunately, it is also shrouded in mystery, misunderstanding, and myth.
Left unchecked, misinformation about emotional wellness can perpetuate stigma, shut down vital conversations, and prevent each of us from living our best story.
The good news? Myths are easily debunked with simple truth.
Read on for 3 common myths about emotional wellness, and the truth you need to know:
Myth #1: Seeking emotional wellness support is a sign of weakness.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
In a culture that celebrates independence and “mental toughness” in the face of adversity, it is easy to understand why some of us might feel hesitant, or even ashamed, to ask for emotional wellness support.
Here is the reality, however:
- By recognizing that you may benefit from additional support, you are displaying self-awareness
- By prioritizing your emotional wellness, you are exhibiting a healthy instinct toward self-care
- And by choosing to seek support (especially if it means stepping outside your comfort zone), you are demonstrating courage
Think about it in terms of other areas of health:
We would never consider it “weak” to seek support for heart wellness. Or lung wellness. Or dental wellness.
Emotional wellness is no different. And what’s more: When we have the tools and support we need to live an emotionally well life, everything else feels easier.
Try this: Rather than worry that asking for help is a sign of weakness, recognize that doing so actually means you are self-aware, self-caring, and courageous… even during times of challenge!
Myth #2: Emotional wellness is simply the absence of illness.
Not even close. There is so much more to emotional wellness than treating illness.
And yet many of us struggle to answer the question, “What does emotional wellness mean to you?”
Why is that?
For one thing, most discussions about general health and wellness tend to center around the topic of illness, with terms such as “diagnosis,” “treatment,” and “recovery” dominating the narrative.
This goes for public discourse in the media as well as our everyday conversations with friends and family. If you listen closely, you will likely find that the focus is more often on illness than wellness.
The need for effective treatment is clear: An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will experience a significant mental health issue at some point in their lives. But while treatment plays a key role in addressing any illness, there are a wide variety of factors that can help prevent illness and improve a person’s emotional wellness.
These are just some of the factors that can help those experiencing a mental health issue enjoy a rich and rewarding life.
As it turns out, these same factors are good for all of us.
Think of them as the start of a recipe. A list of ingredients that combine to make up emotional wellness.
And the list is limitless!
Try this: Create your own definition of “emotional wellness”. Complete the following sentences:
- I believe that _____________, ______________, and _______________ are necessary for me to enjoy emotional wellness.
- When I am _____________, this is one sign that I might not be as emotionally well as I would like.
- On the other hand, I can tell I am enjoying good emotional wellness when I ____________________.
- As I continue my own emotional wellness journey, I will focus on spending more time/energy on ___________, and less time/energy on _____________.
Myth #3: Only those who are struggling should focus on emotional wellness.
Sources of emotional support, like therapy, can help create powerful and positive changes in the lives of those who are struggling.
But if you think such support has no use when things are going well, you are missing out on an incredible chance to improve your emotional wellness!
During times of relative calm, it can be especially fruitful to seek support.
Just as an athlete is better able to build strength and agility by training when he or she is not injured, you too can improve your emotional strength and flexibility by seeking support when you are feeling great.
Why? Not only are you free from the stressors that might otherwise make it difficult to focus on therapy, but you have the unique opportunity to reflect on what is going well in your life.
To deepen your awareness of your own beliefs, strengths, and values.
And to use this information to help you enrich your life and relationships.
Try this: Make a list of all the roles you play in your life right now (e.g., partner, professional, parent, friend, learner). Read through that list and circle 1 or 2 roles that feel especially important to how you see yourself. Take a few minutes to consider:
- What do you enjoy about each of these roles?
- What is going especially well for you in each of these roles?
- What might your life be like if things were going even better?
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Ready to take the next step in your emotional wellness journey?