Since 2004, National Emotional Wellness has been observed in October. The focus is to provide information and resources to help people improve emotional wellness. What is emotional wellness? According to the National Center for Emotional Wellness, the term refers to an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.
Since March 2020, COVID-19 has challenged the emotional wellness of many people as they faced shutdowns, consistent bad news, panic, fear, critical illness, and death. For many seniors, the fear of leaving home, having guests, getting together with family, or attending in-person functions still affects their emotional wellness. Life has changed, and change is hard. In addition, it can be hard to talk about your emotional health due to the fear of discrimination or the stigma surrounding mental health. Internalizing negative emotions can lead to irrational thoughts preventing the individual from enjoying life. Learning healthy ways to cope and protect our emotional health is the first step in positively living in our changing world.
Here are five questions to ask a senior to discover if they are struggling with emotional wellness:
Are you happy with yourself? Those who are emotionally healthy are usually content with themselves.
Are you appreciative? Emotionally healthy people feel thankfulness. They appreciate what they have rather than only focusing on what they do not have.
Do you feel you have a purpose? People who generally feel they have a purpose have a sense of happiness as they think they have a reason to start their day.
Do you have ways to manage stress? Those who are emotionally stable have healthy ways of managing stress.
Do you support others in your life? Emotional health emulates compassion toward others and a sense of kindness.
Emotional wellness for seniors is key to a happier, healthier life. In fact, it can help seniors recover from an illness, injury, or loss of a loved one faster. If you find a senior lacks positive emotional health, here are six things they can work on to improve their emotional health:
- Be positive. While occasionally being in a bad mood is normal, constantly having a negative attitude undermines emotional wellness.
To develop a more positive mindset:
- Give yourself credit for the good things you do each day.
- Everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself and others; learn from what went wrong, but don’t dwell on it.
- Surround yourself with positive, healthy people.
- Get connected. Scientists are finding that our social connections can have a powerful effect on our emotional and physical health. To strengthen your social circle, reach out to friends and loved ones via phone and social media.
- Relieve stress. Stress is normal, and its energy rush can help us get things done. However, chronic stress is being on “high alert” for a long time and does more harm than good. Here are some healthy ways to cope with stress and boost your resilience:
- Get enough sleep.
- Note what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve failed to do.
- Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can also help reduce stress.
- Establish boundaries. The feeling of having too much to do can cause frustration, anxiety, and stress. Some important ways to establish boundaries include:
- Let people know what you will and will not tolerate. If you never tell them, people will never know what they’re doing is unacceptable.
- Make sure you spend time doing things that bring you joy and help you feel better about yourself.
- Don’t let people talk you into things you don’t want to do or out of things you want to do.
- Cope with loss. The death of a loved one can feel overwhelming. But most people can make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Healthy ways to cope with loss include:
- Take care of yourself. Try to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. Avoid bad habits that can put your health at risk.
- Talk to caring friends.
- Wait a while before making big decisions like moving or changing jobs.
- Mourning takes time. It’s common to have roller-coaster emotions for a while.
- Ask for help. If you are suffering from negative emotions, ask others for help. People to talk to include:
- A friend or family member you trust that will be a good listener.
- Get the perspective of others to hear how they would handle a situation.
- Seek the advice of a counselor.
Emotional wellness is essential. It affects a person’s ability to cope with everyday life. How a person responds to their emotions is vital. It dictates how they act, take action and how they view life. If not kept in check, it can lead to lasting side effects. Therefore, keeping emotional wellness a priority will provide the best quality of life for that person.
 Adapted. Mclean Care, Maintaining Emotional Wellness, July 28, 2020
Psychology Today, What is Emotional Wellness? Diana Raab, Ph.D., October 10, 2019