Understanding more about emotional self care will help you acknowledge, better understand and care for your personal emotional health in a meaningful way.
Emotional self care can be one of the easiest self care essentials to recognize as a need but all too often, it is the one that women tend to put last.
Sometimes this comes from intentionally ignoring your feelings so you don’t have to face them. Other times life is just so busy that you don’t have time to worry about it. This too shall pass, right?
Years of coaching, teaching and mentoring, not to mention my own personal experiences through all of that, have helped me understand that emotions that are ignored will come to the surface one way or another. Typically, ignoring them means the sender is not in control of the message when they do.
This post will help you acknowledge, understand and take action towards positive emotional self care for women.
What is Emotional Self Care?
Emotional self care is centered on enhancing our emotional literacy, navigating our emotions, increasing empathy, managing our stress effectively, and having compassion for others.
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Reflection on Emotional Wellness
Emotional Self Care can be very difficult to address or even acknowledge if you are dealing with or have dealt with traumatic situations in your life. Often times the ostrich approach, even if unintentional or subconscious, is the “go to” when considering emotional self care.
Emotional self care for women starts with acknowledging how you feel. This seems so simple but can be one of the most difficult things to do.
We, as women, have a tendency to push aside or even ignore our personal needs for those around us. I have been guilty of this in my personal life and in my professional life.
Everyone around you needs something or many things. Let’s be honest. Life is busy, regardless of what stage of life you are in.
Reality of Life
If you are a student managing your courses, work, and having any kind of social life there are competing interests surrounding you.
Career-minded women, you are undoubtedly managing the job, all of the challenges that go along with it, trying to keep your personal relationships healthy while doing so and managing a full schedule that keeps you going non-stop.
Stay at home moms, your list of things to accomplish is never ending. You have made the commitment to be there for your children and are likely juggling meeting their needs, nurturing the relationships with your significant other, as well as things that need to be done around the house and have little to no time to yourself.
And for those that are in the midst of your careers… you are there. You made it to the career field you always wanted and there is a constant struggle to stay relevant, excel at the job itself, please your supervisors, manage home life. If you are in a leadership role you have any number of people looking to you to create the best possible work environment.
Life is Busy
The reality is it doesn’t matter which part of your life journey you are on. We all have one thing in common. There are a ton of things competing for our time and attention. People look to you and rely on you. Life is busy!
Why does all of this matter? The same things that make you likely to set aside what you want and need to do for others is what drives you to ignore how you feel about something.
It is important to keep in mind that emotional self care is only one of eight areas of self care that need to be considered. Balance is essential to managing your self care. Read more about 8 Self Care Essentials Every Woman Needs to Know here.
The most important part of working through all areas of self care is taking time for reflection in order to successfully make your self care a priority!
Each of us, in our own way, is better at handling certain aspects of our emotional self care than others. Managing stress is a universal struggle. Accepting the things you can change now typically helps with decreasing stress.
Every day you are impacted by the decisions and actions of others. Whether those people are your family, co-workers, friends, bosses, or people you don’t even know their choices and decisions impact you on a regular basis.
Sometimes those impacts are positive and other times they are negative. Either way, you rarely have the power to change the outcomes of those decisions. So, how do you manage stress related to a situation that you didn’t create?
The answer is to look at the situation as a whole and ask yourself what you can do to impact the situation. Have you truly voiced how you felt about the situation and why you feel that way? Could you share another perspective that may not have already been considered?
Reality sets in and you realize that sometimes none of those things will change the situation itself. Sometimes they will so they are worth thinking through but, if they won’t what then?
Stress and Change
My “go to” in these situations is the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Whether you are a believer or not, this is a powerful concept. It is all about accepting the things we can’t change and one by one, affecting the things that we can.
It is difficult when you are living through stress to realize that you and only you have the ability to eliminate stress in your life. The situations will be what they are. What you choose to do with them…. that is totally up to you.
Managing Burnout and Fatigue
Whichever stage of life you are in there is a possibility for burnout and feeling completely exhausted. Either way, decision making and your mental approach to every situation is shifted when this is the case.
Remember earlier when we established that there is a loss of control of the message you are sending when you aren’t in control of your emotions? This is where we start to make decisions and take action that completely shifts what we are dealing with in the future.
Have you ever had a day where you woke up and felt like you simply can’t do “this” for another day or continue on the same path that your on without some significant changes? Then something happens to renew or encourage you and with no real changes you have a day in the same circumstances that leaves you feeling happy and satisfied?
We all need encouragement, reassurance, acknowledgement that we are on the “right path” and there are times in our lives where the people around us are going through the same phase of frustration and can’t give that to us. What then?
There are things you can do to shift your perspective and keep you focused on the positive aspects of life. Most often this involves invoking compassion, empathy, understanding, gratitude and thankfulness for the things that are going well in your life.
Empathy and Compassion
Having compassion for others and increasing empathy go hand in hand. Reading a book, listening to podcasts, watching motivational speeches, volunteering, even watching or reading the news can often enhance these skills.
If you’re looking for a magazine that you can put on your side table to help you consider life situations of others from a global perspective National Geographic is always a great choice! Get your subscription to National Geographic here.
Looking inward, I am one of those women who has my heart strings pulled easily. I worked hard as I progressed in my career to hide that because I recognized that others saw it as a weakness. The reality was, I was using my empathy and compassion for others in a meaningful way. I had to learn the hard way that you can be a strong woman and still show compassion for others.
There is a double standard that exists. It’s wrong and it will only change when we put a stop to the idea that somehow our gender means we need to approach situations differently because of our gender.
Insight and understanding are gained by having empathy and compassion. How you use that only you can decide, but making a positive impact relies on the actions you take when those feelings are evident.
Gratitude and thankfulness have great power in changing your perspective.
There are times when the things that you are grateful for are so obvious and it is difficult to identify them all because there are so many. There are also times when it almost seems like a stretch to be “thankful” for something.
The truth is, you can take control of your emotions back when you make a conscious effort to be thankful.
I can think of so many times when finding something to be thankful for felt so difficult. Sometimes, being thankful for a negative situation because of what you have learned from it is the most powerful thing you can do.
Life deals us some pretty hard blows sometimes. I have experienced my fair share of those. Some were a result of poor decisions I made and some I had absolutely no control over. You know what, though? Looking back, I learned far more from those times than did from the good times that did not cause me any frustration or pain.
Having the courage to be thankful for the lessons that difficult situations provide you takes away your feeling of lack of control. You have the power to make new choices, have a new perspective or be solidified in the ones you already had. You and only you possess that for yourself.
Motivation for Emotional Self Care
How do you determine what your personal motivation is for emotional self care?
It all starts with what you believe. What are your core values? Why do you believe what you believe? What shaped those beliefs? These are all key questions in better understanding what your personal motivation is.
Let’s really break this down.
What are your core values? In other words, what do you believe about life and how it should be lived? Some examples of this would be; every person has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, all people are good and good people make bad decisions and so on.
Next, think through why you believe those things. We all have things in our life that impact our core beliefs. It may be truths that you believe based on how you were raised, things you learned from situations that happened around you or to you, or it could be more vague than that.
No matter what the reason is, you can break that down further by looking at what shaped those beliefs. In other words, what things have happened in your life or to people around you that solidify those beliefs or core values?
Understanding all of this will do several things. First, it will remind you of what you believe and why you believe it. Second, there is a ton of value in writing these things down. Finally, it will make mentally referencing your core values when working through daily situations more natural and instinctual.
Living with Intention
What you can be sure of is, ignoring your emotions will lead to frustration, resentment and make you take actions that cause more stress. If you really break it down even further emotional self care is recognizing how you feel and taking decisive action with that in mind.
Making the decision to see the good that is happening and not allow the negative impacts on your life to control your actions and perspective will have a profound impact on your future.
Most of us have situations that have happened in our lives that have the ability to make us very jaded. Use those situations to never have the same impact on others, never hurt others the same way or even advocate for victims of those difficult experiences. It all about choices and making intentional decisions. You and only you have the power to do that.
Right is right, wrong is wrong and every person approaches the decisions in front of them by accessing all of the tools in their toolbox. Stop apologizing for who you are and allow yourself to be the best version of you.
Emotional Self Care Ideas
Ok, so you know emotional self care or emotional wellness is important. You recognize that you need to make intentional decisions to make it a priority, but how? Here are some ideas to help get you started.
- Start a journal with a section dedicated to gratitude and thankfulness
- Journaling is an excellent way to work through your feelings about situations
- There is a lot of power in writing things down
- Journaling is a great way to reflect later and see your growth
- Build and lean on your support system that share your core values
- Have a mentor or mentors that share your core values
- Support can be in person or virtual
- Set healthy boundaries for different aspects of your life
- When does work stop ~ be sure there is a time
- Work is a job you get paid for it is not your life
- Consider relationships and healthy boundaries
- When does work stop ~ be sure there is a time
- Dedicate daily time for quiet reflection
- At least 5 minutes
- You have time…. you use the bathroom 🙂
- Consider significant and simple situations in your reflection
- Make it a point to thank someone on a regular basis ~ be specific
- take a few minutes to thank a family member for their impact on your life
- thank a co-worker for their help with (insert specific situation)
- next time you are out thank a server or cashier for their quality service
- Don’t expect perfection from yourself ~ you are human and are going to make mistakes
Grab this free PDF download for your Emotional Self Care Checklist now!
This post was all about emotional self care for women and how to make your self care a priority without feeling guilty about it!