October is Emotional Wellness Month. According to the National Institutes of Health, emotional wellness “is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” This skill is important because it can affect our ability to cope with everyday life, which in turn can dictate our actions and how we respond to others. Another way to think of it is like muscle memory; the more you respond to a stressor in a certain way, the more it becomes a habit.
While maintaining an emotional balance is important for everyone, this skill is especially important for those in the early childhood education community. Besides being an industry going through lots of change, we also stand as examples for young children. After all, it's no secret that students often mimic their teachers.
So how can you improve your emotional health? When looking to find a better emotional balance, consider the following strategies:
Brighten your outlook: Holding onto positive emotions longer and appreciating good times is a sign of emotional wellness. Remembering your good deeds, spending time with friends, and developing healthy physical habits are a great way to achieve this.
Reduce stress: While stress can give you a rush of energy when you need it most, chronic stress can become harmful over time. Setting priorities, regular exercise, and trying relaxation methods are a few ways to help reduce stress.
Get quality sleep: Quality sleep can help you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes, and focus better. To improve the quality of your sleep, try going to bed at the same time each night, limiting using electronics before bed, and relaxing before bedtime.
Cope with loss: There’s no right way to mourn, but having the support of family and friends can help. Other ways to help cope with loss including eating right, getting enough sleep, and giving yourself time.
Strengthen social connections: Social connections can have a great impact on our emotional and physical well-being. Joining groups focused on hobbies, volunteering, and building good habits with family and friends are a few ways to build healthy support systems.
Be mindful: Being mindful is the practice of being completely aware of what’s happening in the present. This means not living your life on “autopilot.” Some ways to be more mindful include taking time to breathe deeply, going on walks, and being aware of what you’re eating.
For more ways to improve your emotional health, check out the Emotional Wellness Toolkit from the National Institutes of Health. Looking for ways to promote emotional wellness in your classrooms? Check out We Are Teachers' list of “50 Must-Have Picture Books to Teach Social Emotional Skills.”