5 ways to prioritise emotional self-care
It’s not selfish to look after yourself. Here are five ways you can prioritise your emotional self-care. By Gillian McMichael
There is an intrinsic link between emotional pain, trauma, and continued high levels of stress. When left unmanaged, emotions can start to manifest as physical symptoms of illness and imbalance in our bodies. Without emotional wellbeing, we can’t experience a healthy, vibrant life.
Many of us believe that self-care looks like going to exercise classes, dieting or cutting out the carbs, and putting restrictions on ourselves to make us feel like we are bettering ourselves. However, when we put restrictions on ourselves, we are simply dealing with the symptoms of our self-neglect, not the root cause. Emotional self-care is the key to truly connecting with yourself and looking after your body and mind. It needs regular check-ins as to how you are and what’s happening within you and around you.
Emotional self-care requires you to honour your mind, body and soul. You must recognise when your energy levels are
depleting, understand what you need at certain times of your day to maintain a balanced and energised body, and know when to treat yourself with compassion to calm your emotions.
1. Quieting the mind
To really look inside ourselves and discover what we need to nurture our emotional wellbeing, we must start by quieting the mind. Most people spend their lives in activity, navigating the strenuous demands of a noisy and stimulating world. Even when we are alone and in a quiet setting, this noise doesn’t stop as we find our minds full of thoughts about the past and worries about the future.
It is important to take time to focus on what is going on within, rather than in the outside world. Society has conditioned us to check social media first thing when we wake up, checking our messages before we leave the house, and doing the same again before bed, meaning we do not have the capacity to be still. Taking time away from our phones and social media will help us take time to connect with ourselves while living and fully functioning in the world we live in.
2. Conscious breathing
All of the cells in our body require oxygen to function efficiently and keep us healthy. Research has highlighted that regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body, and support emotional and physical health. Conscious breathing is a great way to quieten the mind as it allows us to connect in the moment with our breath. Inhaling and exhaling give us a centre point to focus on, known as a ‘drishti.’ When focusing attention on our drishti, in this case, the breath, we connect in the moment to what’s happening. Once you have mastered this, it is easier to transition into other exercises for emotional self-care, such as meditation.
Meditation is another way to move beyond the noisy chatter and chaos and achieve inner quiet and peace. While practicing meditation, you begin to recognise that you are not your thoughts, emotions, or the stories you tell yourself. This helps regulate our emotions and unlock our inner potential. When the mind and body fully relax, blockages, toxins, and emotional stresses start to unfold and release effortlessly. Over time, meditating allows you to find peace through accepting negative thoughts in the moment and letting them go gracefully. This helps break the habit of allowing anxious or negative thoughts to grind us down and stop our peace.
4. Introduce a daily routine
Another way of maintaining emotional self-care is the introduction of a daily routine. Creating a healthy daily routine by aligning ourselves with nature’s rhythms and honouring its cycles of rest and activity are critical to finding balance in a chaotic world. To cultivate your daily routine, start by writing down your ideals, then putting them into practice. Include all facets of your day, such as exercise, meals, wake-up, and lights out times. Try and aim to get outside in nature for at least 15 minutes every day to create balance and peace.
5. Make time to find joy
Joy is a cornerstone of leading a healthy life, and so emotional self-care must have joy at its centre. As children, so many small things brought us joy. Riding a bike hands-free, getting caught in the rain, running freely without aim or purpose. As we move into adulthood, we can feel overwhelmed with our responsibilities, and feel too time-poor to pursue activities that bring us sheer joy.
Regardless of how busy we all are, and what responsibilities we have, we should find time to connect with what brings us joy, even if for a short amount of time. To experience joy and find an interest outside our core responsibilities is available to us all. Avoid being self-critical or seeing prioritising your own joy as selfish. Living with joy is a huge part of being human. If you give yourself permission to do so, you can find a deep sense of fulfilment and contentment.
Gillian McMichael is a master transformational coach, meditation teacher, energy healer and founder of Full Circle Global (fullcircleglobal.com). She is also the author of Coming Home: A Guide to Being Your True Self