Five quick and easy ways that will help you practice emotional self-care.
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The best way to practice emotional self-care is to choose at least one idea and then build it into your daily routine. I recommend a customized planner to keep you on track.
In these challenging times, everything we know seems to have gone out the window, and we need emotional self-care now more than ever.
In fact, I read a post on Facebook from someone in Australia basically saying that we are all grieving.
A bomb hadn’t gone off. No towers had collapsed. But there might as well have been for the impact and the toll this pandemic has taken on us.
People are snapping at each other, attacking each other, panic buying, fighting, rebelling, exploding. All the negativity is coming up and being expressed in these negative ways because we are subsumed in fear and pain.
So, we need to give ourselves the time and the space to breathe and to grieve.
We need to give ourselves time to process what is happening and the chance to express and process our emotions, even when we have no words for them.
It is time for us to acknowledge that our collective mental health is quite fragile and that we must, therefore, pause all the doing for a little while and really look after ourselves and our loved ones.
This post will give you five simple ideas to help you practice emotional self-care for yourself and for others, which, in turn, will allow you to react with grace even during distressing times.
Side Note: Please remember that this post is not intended to replace proper medical guidance or medication. If you suspect you have mental health issues exacerbating your emotional response, then please see your doctor to obtain a diagnosis. Alternatively, you can get matched to a licenced therapist online who is available 24/7.
The Ultimate Guide to Self Love - Discover everything you need to know about self-love, what it is, why you need it and how to practice it.
Emotional self-care meaning
At its core, emotional self-care refers to the act of figuring out what your emotional needs are and, once you know, ensuring that these needs are met.
It is a basic act that requires self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love.
In other words, you must first know who you are so you can discover what you really need. If you want to know what core emotional needs are, click here.
Once you have this information, you need to accept them. Judging yourself because of your needs is simply not supportive of your own growth and your own happiness.
Remember, to live a life of bliss, you need to be your own cheerleader. As Kenny Leon put it (watch the video below if you haven’t already), “Your belief in yourself must be so strong that it doubles everyone else’s collective disbelief.“
And once you know what your needs are and you’ve accepted them, self love demands that you then meet these needs.
Check out the next section for concrete examples on how you can meet your emotional needs.
Emotional self-care ideas
The ideas below are simple and easy.
They do, however, require being fully present and aware of how you think as well as being conscious of the fact that your perception of things matters as much as the thing itself.
In other words, everything that happens around you will be perceived and processed through the lens of your own experience. And that experience will colour the way you look at something
For example, some of my friends who have experienced long-lasting trauma caused by fundamental religion immediately feel wary of anything that resembles proselytizing in a way that someone who grew up with a more liberal background does not.
Emotional self-care hack: Make it a habit.
Whichever idea you choose to use (although I have to say that they work synergistically), it’s best to make it into a habit.
How do you do that?
Build it into your daily routine so that it eventually becomes second nature. One way to do this is to track your progress. And one of the best ways to track your progress is to use a planner.
Now, I’m actually a journal slash planner junkie. I’ve tried everything under the sun and rarely complete them.
I figured that it must be because I feel so limited by the formatting of the journals I find. One would be nice on the outside but doesn’t offer much inside. Another might be perfect inside but look really ugly outside.
I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, and it always did my head in whenever I made a mistake and had to whiteout it, which is why I ended up with an online journal.
Fortunately, I came across a customizable planner online. And the beauty of this planner is that it contains everything I needed, but I can change any information that needs changing, remove a section if it’s not necessary, print as many pages as I want for a particular day etc.
I don’t feel pressured into conforming to someone else’s idea of what I need, which is very free-ing.
So, if you’re looking for the best way to adopt a new habit, track how you’re progressing with it in a way that is easy, functional and aesthetically pleasing, then you can’t go wrong with one of the planners from Template.net.
I highly recommend it. You can go for the free account or for more options, go Pro. If, like me, you’re struggling to find that one perfect planner, this might be the place you finally discover it.
Tip #1: Pause and breathe deeply.
You’d be amazed at how this one thing can make a massive difference in your life.
Take the time each day to pause whatever you’re doing and just breathe deeply – in and out. Doing so can calm your mind and body, release stress and tension and allow you to really look at what is triggering such a strong, negative emotional response from you.
That pause is important. It allows you to step away from the immediacy of the moment.
When something is happening and it’s too close to you – too in your face, your tendency would be to simply react instead of actually processing it first and then making a conscious choice.
You may end up lashing out because you’re too angry – even when you didn’t really mean to.
You may end up burning bridges you actually wanted to keep.
So, ensure you make time to pause and take a few deep breaths, especially when you’re in the throes of strong emotions.
Tip #2: Reflect and meditate.
If it’s not part of your routine, I highly recommend you start incorporating it.
You can start by developing a journaling habit.
Journaling is probably the best way to build self-awareness, manage stress, promote healing and foster personal growth. It will help you identify what triggers you emotionally as well as discover the best way to respond.
For more in-depth information on how to use a journal effectively as well as where to start with meditation, please check out our resources list at the end of this section.
How To Use A Journal – Discover the lessons we learned from master business philosopher Jim Rohn as he talked about the importance and the uses of a journal and what you need to do to start a journal habit.
Meditation for Beginners. Without the Fluff! – The best introduction to meditation for total newbies.
Tip #3: Erect and respect boundaries.
One of the most important tenets of self care (and indeed, self love) is to erect and respect boundaries.
This one is quite tough, especially when you are erecting boundaries for the first time and most especially if the people you’re seeking to keep out are close family and friends.
It is, however, vital that you do so. If you want to nurture meaningful relationships and build a strong personal support system, you must ensure that you have healthy personal boundaries and that the people around you are respecting them.
If you’ve never had boundaries before, then a little bit of confusion from those around you is understandable.
Model the behaviour you want other people to adopt. That means you need to be fully aware of your own values and where you stand. And stand firm. Being wishy-washy – accepting something today and saying no tomorrow – will be damaging. Not to mention, thoroughly confusing.
Make sure that you say yes to yourself and your needs. But at the same time, make sure you say no to those things you really cannot abide.
And remember that when you say no, you don’t need to explain what you’re doing instead. Say it politely and with grace because honesty tempered with gentleness goes a long way. But make sure you say it and that you stick with it once you’ve said it, “No, thank you.”
Stop yourself from apologising constantly because you can’t please other people. It is not your job to please them. It is your job to please yourself.
Tip #4: Accept all emotions.
Contrary to what you probably heard all those years when you were growing up, all emotions are valid and acceptable.
It’s okay to feel angry or upset when things don’t go your way.
It’s okay to admit – even if it’s only to yourself or especially to yourself – that your feelings are hurt and that you need time and space to forgive and to heal.
Learn to experience your emotions without judgement, guilt, embarrassment, or shame. And give yourself the grace to try again when you’re being less than perfect.
Side Note: Whilst all emotion is acceptable, actions are a different matter altogether. You cannot beat someone up simply because you were angry. Likewise, you cannot verbally abuse someone because you were frustrated or disappointed.
If you’re having difficulty reigning in your reaction to emotional triggers, then consider getting yourself assessed by your doctor. Alternatively, you can get matched to a licensed therapist online who is available 24/7.
Tip #5: Nurture yourself.
Nurturing yourself is an essential aspect of emotional self care.
This doesn’t just mean doing things like taking care of your physical health by exercising, going to sleep early, or eating well – although it certainly does include all of these too.
You also need to become aware of the way you talk to and about yourself. Unfortunately, many of us are our worst critics and talk to ourselves so degradingly and critically that we sometimes end up worrying about how other people talk about us.
You need to stop that.
Taking full responsibility for the consequences of your own action is one thing. Using your past mistakes as a club to repeatedly beat yourself up is another altogether.
Another thing you need to do, which you probably don’t for fear of appearing arrogant or full of himself is to accept compliments without trying to downplay whatever is being complimented.
When someone says, “You were amazing,” what do you say?
Answer: “Thank you. That’s very kind of you.”
Resist the urge to claim modesty by saying something along the lines of, “Oh, not at all. Anybody can do it.”
Fact is, you did it. You were amazing. And it’s an act of maturity and self love to celebrate that.
Another thing you can do to nurture yourself is to recognise the limits of what you can do, ask for help when you need it and then accept help when it’s being offered.
It’s not a weakness to need a helping hand. Neither is it embarrassing or shameful. We are all parts of a connected whole and none of us can succeed without other people’s support.
Finally, let go of the urge to take responsibility for other people’s lives or the consequences of other people’s actions. Each of us is the captain of our own ships. Each of us walks on the path of our own choosing.
Lend a helping hand, sure, but remember that ultimately, other people make their own choices. They call the shots. They go where they wish to go.
Emotional self care checklist
Final thoughts on practicing emotional self-care
I hope these five things can help you practice emotional self-care so you can really love yourself, especially in these unprecedented times when we all need to react with grace under pressure.
And that’s what’s really important – giving yourself space, giving yourself time, giving yourself grace.
If you’re looking for more ideas, take a look at our post, 100+ Unusual Self-Care Ideas To Turbocharge Your Life!