I’ve always been a big proponent of emotional wellbeing and ensuring that we take care of that element of our lives, sometimes even before nutrition, although the two tie in hand in hand. As some of you may know I also teach an online course and one of my students, Aimee wrote an excellent paper on the connection between our emotional wellness and the expectations that are present today in society in terms of the emotional needs we have in relationships. Read on to hear me, I really love her tips!
Emotional wellness is an important topic when we think of how it impacts both ourselves as individuals and in a relationship. It clearly applies through its exploration of open, positive communication and the ability to cope with life situations even when they are not going as expected. If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, In the past relationships were based on the basic needs. Over time, our culture has evolved to make the basic needs more accessible and so marriage begins to fulfill the higher categories which puts added pressure on couples because these needs are far more complex than food and shelter. It occurs to me that in light of this, and in keeping with emotional wellness, there are factors that can help us to connect with each other and cope in healthy ways when struggles appear.
1.Engage in person-to-person contact- this would be setting aside time (even during dinner) to talk without outside interference. This is beneficial for couples, families and friends in general. It is easy to miss whole sentences when you are talking to someone while checking a device or watching a show, or to miss a look and body language signal that you may wish you had caught later on. We also exchange good feelings with each other when we make eye contact and smile, it's contagious. The challenge here lies in the constant assumption that we should all be available 24/7. I believe this fits in with the phrase "you can't pour from an empty cup" because if we are constantly at the mercy of technology we risk burning out our empathy and giving our attention to areas that will not give back.
2.Emotionally check in - We should certainly have trust and the ability to provide space in a relationship but I think that it helps to have a steady gauge of stress and satisfaction levels within the couple and family. The challenge is in refraining from feeling obligated to fix the situation (unless help is requested of course) and instead practice listening and taking in the big picture. It is like the panarchic theory in marriage: not every high will remain high and not every low will remain low; there will be cycles. If we fix all of the problems, we are taking them on for ourselves and also denying the other person the chance to grow and feel confident in their ability to work through a struggle. There's a fine line here between monitoring for stress and issues vs stepping in and taking over.
3.Resist the urge to use emotion as a weapon- This is a tough one, because it is very easy to sever degrees of closeness and sometimes we are taught to do this from childhood. But when we cut ourselves off from genuine emotional interaction by using it as a means to control our family or partner (or job, etc.), it can be hard to regain the closeness with the people around you and also hard to express when there is a true emotional crisis. The challenge in this example is to remain genuine. There is a vulnerability in staying present with your emotions, because it requires you to live them and to acknowledge that you have them. But I think there is real power in learning to choose not to engage in emotional manipulation.
Historically, it can be SO useful to look back and assess emotional needs and apply the rationale to the present and future and how it impacts us biologically (aka stress/anxiety) when we deny aspects of our emotional wellness. Understanding why emotion is important, and how we benefit on an individual and communal level when we learn to adapt to life changes in a positive way.
Scientific methods prove that there are physiological consequences (good and bad) for either ignoring or becoming receptive to body cues of stress and satisfaction. Emotion is the energy that we create based on the environment we are in and the choices we are making; our brain activity triggers reminders and warnings that should be respected. We can use these tools to put these feelings and experiences into perspective and create our values, which is a big part of building our ability to cope during difficult emotional times.
Thanks for sharing Aimee! If you have any article ideas you'd like to share on the website please shoot me an email through the contact page here.