Maintaining emotional wellness is essential as the pandemic, a sustained trauma, evokes valid emotions of sadness, stress, anxiety and loneliness. In December 2020, the US Census Bureau conducted a survey evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. More than 42% of people surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, a 31% increase from the previous year.
So what is emotional wellness and why is it important? Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. Your mental and emotional health impacts your physical health. High levels of stress and emotional trauma can lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, ulcers, diabetes, and weakened immune responses. Effectively dealing with our emotions contributes to our overall well being; research suggests regulating and addressing our emotions can improve physical health. In honor of emotional wellness month, we want to spread awareness of the importance of emotional wellness and tips that can help in difficult times.
Ways to improve your emotional health:
- Make time to check-in with yourself. Our lives can get busy, and emotions can easily get pushed to the side. Prioritize taking a break to pause from daily activities and to bring awareness of your feelings. This downloadable emotional wellness checklist (attached below) provides tips on how to: develop positivity, manage stress, get better quality sleep, be more mindful, help cope with loss, and build healthy support systems.
- Try self-care activities. Activities that can help to promote emotional wellness include: going for a walk or getting exercise, performing mindfulness, journaling, talking to a friend, creating art, listening to music and feeding yourself with proper nutrition. Self-care can play a role in maintaining your mental health which directly relates to how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others.
- Connect with loved ones. Research shows a correlation between social support and mental health. In China, 7,202 adolescents participated in a study that explored the association between the levels of social support and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers found a higher prevalence of mental health problems among adolescents with medium and low levels of social support. Check-in with your loved ones and ask your family members how they are doing emotionally.
- Reach out for help. Are you or someone you know struggling with anxious thoughts, intense sadness, helplessness or unmanageable stress? Reach out to Hawai‘i Cares free helpline where a local CARES counselor can help you find resources and the right solution based on your needs. Oʻahu residents can call 808-832-3100 and neighbor island residents can call 800-753-6879.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought ongoing change and challenges into everyone’s life. We hope you join us in creating time to check in with yourself and your loved ones. Opening the door to compassionate conversations around mental and emotional health destigmatizes mental health conditions and could save a life.
You are not alone,
The HIPHI team