Initiating and Normalizing Conversations around Emotional Wellness
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. -Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
Halloween is here and we can’t wait to see all of those little ghosts and goblins ringing on our doorstep come Sunday! Now, this might be a spooky, scary season but you know what isn’t scary? Talking about mental health! And I’m here to tell you why.
Unlike so many other medical conditions, mental illness has been associated with a pronounced stigma for generations. This stigma can cause a lot of damage, particularly when it leads to a reluctance to seek treatment, discrimination, misinformation, bullying, and self-doubt. The good news is that things seem to be changing, thanks to so many people who have chosen to step out and share their struggles with mental illness. The world’s experience of the pandemic – what experts now consider a collective trauma – has also helped normalize emotional hardship and the importance of self-care.
If you’re struggling with mental illness or emotional distress, figuring out how to address it can feel daunting. And if you suspect a loved one may be suffering in the same way, starting a conversation may seem tricky. So let’s take a step back and look at a few ways we can approach mental and emotional issues, because the truth is: addressing mental health doesn’t have to be scary!
Tune in. When was the last time you asked yourself how am I really doing right now? or how am I feeling today? The more conscious we are about our own emotions, the better we’ll be at taking charge of our own mental health and helping those around us. Emotional awareness is a form of mindfulness and requires creating space to access your inner world. Deep breathing, journaling, and meditation can help calm your mind and still your body so that you can tune into your feelings.
Get real. If you’re struggling emotionally – whether you’re feeling stressed, anxious, down, or a combination of the three, try sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member. Yes, it’s tempting to put on a happy face and pretend everything is fine, but faking it really isn’t helpful for anyone in the long run. Accepting how you’re feeling and being honest about that with yourself and others can help you process difficult emotions and navigate hard situations. Being vulnerable requires courage, but it’s worth it.
Speak up. If someone in your life is going through a hard time, don’t be afraid to offer support in conversation, or even through a text message or email. This could be as simple as saying “It seems like you’re having a hard time with __. How are you doing? If you ever want to talk, just know that I’m here for you.” Opening the door for non-judgmental dialogue can help your loved one feel seen and safe with you.
The more aware we are of our feelings, the better we’ll be able to tend to our own mental health and reaching out to others who are struggling lets them know they aren’t alone. Engaging with yourself and others around mental health also helps to lower stigma and normalize conversations around emotional well-being on a societal level.
If you’re struggling with mental or emotional well-being, don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to seek help from a mental health professional. Chances are, no matter what you’re facing mentally and emotionally, talking with a therapist will help you process your situation and identify a path forward.
Visit the Bene RESOURCES page for a list of mental health organizations.