What is emotional well-being? There are a few different ways to define it, but Healthline describes three components of emotional wellness:
- Emotional attunement (identifying how you feel).
- Vulnerability (the ability to express your emotions).
- Authenticity (the capacity to share your feelings honestly).
And according to Healthline, emotional well-being leads to resilience, self-awareness, and contentment. The other components of well-being overlap, and include physical, spiritual, and mental well-being. All greatly influence one another, but sometimes focusing on one area can help you hone in on any struggles you’re having and come up with a strategy to increase your overall well-being.
Also, by focusing on one area (e.g., emotional health), you might realize that one of the other areas in your life (for example, physical health) is influencing the first area more than you’d like it to, and you can come up with strategies to change that.
Christian counseling for emotional well-being can assist you each step of the way in this process. If your emotions are feeling out of control or bottled up, your everyday quality of life can suffer. Individual counseling is a place just for you to:
- Understand how your past experiences have shaped your emotional well-being today.
- Identify what your daily struggles are.
- Make a plan to learn and grow.
Practical Steps to Emotional Well-Being
Let’s talk about some of the practical tools you can implement any day to enhance your well-being. (These tools do not have a guaranteed, immediate effect, and they are not a cure for clinical depression or mental health problems.)
Remember that baby steps are important. Trying to overhaul your life and habits all at once can have the opposite effect as you intend. Get to know yourself and your personality. For Christians, focusing on practical actions might feel like we’re neglecting our faith or failing to appreciate how God is the one who grants us well-being.
You might be encouraged by a different perspective. God has provided avenues for us to connect with him and his creation, including our physical bodies, in healthy and holistic ways. These steps are some ways to gratefully receive his provision for us.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we were not created to be alone. Depending on your situation, you might have trouble accessing the community around you, but try to improve the quality of your relationships, not just the quantity. Spend screen-free time with your family or roommates; have a face-to-face conversation; call or video chat instead of texting. The slower the method of communication, the more valuable its effects.
2. Life-giving activities
Music, art, hobbies, creativity, exercise, being in nature, and journaling all fall under this category. The key is to find ways to participate in these activities that you enjoy. Forcing yourself to go for a run when you hate running might be a form of personal challenge and self-discipline, but if you don’t start to enjoy it over time, try something else.
It’s hard to tear ourselves away from screens sometimes, but hands-on activities offer rewards greater than the quick dopamine hit from scrolling social media.
3. Healthy eatingAgain, find forms of healthy eating that you enjoy. While our taste buds can change over time if we eat healthier food, it’s also important not to force yourself to eat brussels sprouts if you hate them, for example. There are many resources online to help you create balanced, delicious meals, or make healthy versions of the foods you love.
If simplicity and speed are your priorities, you can focus on healthy, quick, budget-friendly versions of the food you love. The foods you eat can affect your mood, prevent cell damage, and increase serotonin levels. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and illicit substances also makes a difference.
It’s not always possible to control the amount of sleep you get, but you can set yourself up for success by exposing yourself to daylight in the morning (or using a light therapy lamp), getting some exercise during the day, and practicing proper sleep hygiene and a consistent routine.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is hugely beneficial in many ways. An individualized approach can help you identify and improve emotional health issues that you might not be able to figure out on your own.
And the mere act of processing your emotions in someone else’s presence can improve your mental health. Counseling can also help you know what small, practical changes to prioritize and help you stay consistent.
The National Institute of Health recommends an “emotional wellness toolkit” that includes positivity and healthy stress management. While not a cure for depression or other emotional problems, taking a brighter approach to life (learning to find the redemptive outlook) can help increase your emotional health over time. And learning to manage stress is key for your ongoing health.
An Integrated Approach to Emotional Wellness
UC Berkeley has a science center called Greater Good that is entirely focused on researching how to have a meaningful life. Their metric of a meaningful life includes health, happiness, and positive connections.
We can integrate these ideas with a Christian worldview by recognizing that although science can measure some psychological outcomes, we know that God created us and all good comes from him. Consider how Berkeley’s measures of emotional wellness coincide with concepts found in Scripture:
Altruism: God calls us to live lives of love, generosity, and service.
Awe: Worship is the purest form of awe. Appreciating the beauty of God’s creation is another way to live a life of awe.
Bridging differences: Loving others, celebrating the diversity of God’s kingdom, and speaking the truth in love are all ways to bridge differences with others.
Compassion: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
Diversity: As mentioned above, God has promised to include every tribe and tongue in his kingdom (Revelation 7:9-17), and that starts here on earth.
Empathy: The first part of compassion is the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. The Bible is full of stories of caring for others.
Forgiveness: This is one of the core tenets of the Christian faith: the forgiveness God extends to us through Christ, and the forgiveness he calls us to extend to others.
Gratitude: We are called to live in thankfulness for all God has done for us (1 Thessalonians 3:18).
Happiness: Although surface-level happiness is not promised in this life, we know that we will be happy and blessed with God’s love and care for us when we live to serve and know Him (Psalm 23).
Mindfulness: Mindfulness can be a controversial concept for Christians but quieting our minds to meditate on God’s Word and His love for us can bring peace and healing (meditation is mentioned nineteen times in the book of Psalms).
Purpose: We can know that God has created us for a purpose and that he has a plan for our lives, even when we can’t see it (Romans 8:28).
Social connection: One of the most prominent themes in the New Testament is Christians living in fellowship and community with one another.
Emotional well-being and faith are not mutually exclusive. Through God’s grace and an integrated approach, it’s possible to seek greater levels of well-being while also trusting in him.
Christian counseling can help you learn more and create healthier habits in your daily life. Whether you’re struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, or you know that you’re not reaching your full potential in one or more areas of your life, you can benefit from Christian coaching or counseling to help you learn, change, and grow. Call today for a risk-free initial session.
“Family Time”, Courtesy of Jimmy Dean, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hiker”, Courtesy of Lucas Favre, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drone Pilot”, Courtesy of Árpád Czapp, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Journaling”, Courtesy of Hannah Olinger, Unsplash.com, CC0 License