I was an October child. In astrological terms it makes me a Libra, symbolized by the scales. I like to think this means I'm successful at viewing both sides of an issue. This ability provides me with a stellar sense of objectivity and allows me to find a comfortable balance in my life. My friends and family, however, affectionately disagree and call me indecisive. Regardless of the spin chosen for the particular issue of balance, one thing is certain -- balance in our lives is the key to emotional health and well being.
There are so many things in our lives that can stand in our way of achieving emotional well-being. Constant stressful environments, loss and grief, divorce, strained family relationships under-socialization are just a just a few.
Every day we face countless assaults on our emotional health and well-being. This is a fact that we cannot deny or change. As much as we try to avoid it, stress and anxiety are natural -- and surprisingly healthy -- components of everyone's life. Believe it or not, anxiety and stress serve a purpose.
We need certain levels of stress or anxiety in order to grow as individuals. It's how we manage these daily assaults that wreak havoc on us emotionally (and physically) and wear us down. When we're worn down, we can't function to our fullest capacity. And when we can't function, everything and everyone around us is impacted in a negative way.
So, what's the answer? Is there a way to manage the stress in our our day to day lives and strive toward a state of emotional health? Here are some tips:
1. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep recharges our bodies and mind, and allows us to take on what the day may bring.
2. Learn to Balance Work and Play: Too much of either one is not healthy.
3. Surround Yourself with Positive People: Frequent exposure to negativity can wear you down.
4. Set appropriate Personal Boundaries: As the saying goes, nobody can take advantage of you without your permission.
5. Avoid Drugs or Alcohol When You're Under Stress
6. Do Something Just for You: Go to a movie. Take a walk. Enjoy a sunrise or sunset.
7. Learn to Let Go of Things You Cannot Control: Blowing horns and cursing at other drivers is an exercise in futility and definitely NOT conducive to emotional well-being.
8. Positive Self-talk: This can change your overall outlook on life.
9. Make Time for Leisure Activities: This can take your mind off what's troubling you and aid in emotional recharge.
10. Talk to Someone You Can Trust: It's important not to store negative feelings.
11. Have a Sense of Humor: Laughter is the best medicine.
For many people, emotional health and well-being can be achieved and maintained using tips such as these. However, there are certainly times when life's ups and downs, as well as biology and genetics, can make life seem overwhelming and unbearable. In cases such as this when more severe anxiety or depression are the culprit, help is available. A trained professional can help you identify the source of your pain so that you can tackle it together. In some cases, medication can be a helpful aid while you work through your difficulties.
So, is emotional health and well being attainable? Yes. Is it easy? No. For many, there is a lifetime of behaviors that need to be altered in an effort to improve their emotional lives. There are often major lifestyle changes involved in this quest, so it's important to understand that improvement will be gradual. However, when the day comes that you can sit in rush hour traffic on I-95 and say simply say "oh well", you know your life has been changed forever.
Ed Moran, LCSW is a clinical social worker at Family Centers, Inc, which serves New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich. He provides psychotherapy for children, adolescents and their families and runs after school support groups for middle and high school boys. For more information visit www.familycenters.org or, contact Moran at 203-655-4693.