Emotional wellness has powerful effects on your overall health. It's why our 28-day challenge is a great way to reboot and make sure you are taking care of your emotional wellness.
Emotional health is personal. It's an intimate journey of discovering practices and routines to how you manage your inner self. What might work for you at taking care of your emotional health might not work for your loved one.
That's okay! It might be hard at times to understand how our loved ones take care of their emotional health, but we must remember emotional wellness is a personal journey.
No one thing will be a cure-all for our emotional health, nor will all things help all people.
This 28-day challenge might have some days that are a perfect fit for your holistic health routine. But others might seem more of a chore. The great thing is that in this challenge, you are discovering what works and what doesn't. And when you find something that works, add it to your routine. When one doesn't work, nix it.
Why is Emotional Wellness so Essential
According to the National Center for Emotional Wellness, the term refers to an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.
If you are feeling a little stressed right now, that definition might seem overwhelming. Stress is one of those annoying feelings that can come and go in life. For some, it's a constant state that never goes away. And 2020 has shaped up to be a stressful year no matter what your typical stress spectrum is.
With our hectic schedules, elections, COVID-19, changes in work, lack of social events, and our phones pinging every minute with news and text alerts, life can seem overwhelming. It's more crucial than ever to maintain a sense of calm and balance.
Mental and emotional stress has powerful effects on our health. It can translate into adverse physical reactions, poor health, and a weakened immune system. But when we can maintain a healthy emotional balance, we can make healthy choices, have quality relationships, and achieve our goals.
Emotional wellness practices give us a toolkit to reach into when handling life's stresses. Navigating relationships and keeping ourselves motivated.
Quick Tip: DISCONNECT AND TAKE A TIME OUT FOR YOUR BRAIN.
28-Day Emotional Wellness Challenge
Since it takes 28-days to create a habit, we have a 28-day challenge that will help you find out what works and what doesn't when it comes to taking care of your emotional wellness. Use this challenge as a toolkit to creating a habit that keeps you in tune with your emotions and mental well-being.
Day 1 Write Your Goals Down
Before any challenge, setting goals are essential, so at the end of the challenge, you can say, "Yeah, I accomplished what I set you to." For this challenge, your task today is to take 5-10 minutes. Find a place that helps you relax and just sit in your thoughts for a few minutes. Then think about what you want the end goal to be when this challenge ends. Set one to two primary goals. Write them down. Then write small, achievable mini-goals to help you reach your two big ones.
It's crucial to write your goals down because you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals!
Day 2 Identify Stresses and Triggers
You know what you want to accomplish; now, you will figure what could be the roadblock to achieving those goals.
Stress can take a toll on emotional health. But identifying the cause of your stress will help you identify areas you can change to decrease if not stop your anxieties.
Here are four typical areas that can lead to stress:FINANCES
Are finances an area of stress for you? As much as it seems easier to pretend our financial troubles aren't bothering us, sometimes facing the issue helps us lower our pressures.
Review your financial plan. Make sure your plan aligns with your income, savings, and spending habits. If they don't, it's probably why you are stressed. Adjust your spending habits to ease the burden of your finances. Although this isn't always straightforward, there are small changes most people can make in their spending that will help them have a little more savings.
For me, I was stopping at my favorite coffee shop every day, and when I started to track my spending, I realized that my measly $6 a day for a delicious cup of coffee was costing me $180 a month and $2160 a year. Well, that changed that small spending habit quickly. Going to one coffee a week helped me have an additional $1848 a year to put towards taxes or car maintenance.SCREEN TIME
If we monitor our children's screen time, why don't we monitor ours? Our world might be digital, but it doesn't mean that our free time should be spent on our screens. The amount of time we spend online impacts our emotional health. We are bombarded by data, news, and alerts constantly.
Review your screen time. If you have an iPhone, they make it simple for you and will track it. You can even set time limits to your apps. Try reducing your screen time when you don't have to be on it for work. Or try to unplug one day a week.
Friends, family, and co-workers can make our stress go away, and sometimes they can be the cause of our stress. We thrive on social interactions, and without them, we feel isolated. A well-balanced, healthy, social life can provide a satisfying spiritual, emotional, recreational, and educational benefit. Our friends and family can provide a strong support system when times are tough. Even amid self-isolation and social distancing, relationships and connections are even more important to have.
Ask yourself these questions. Do you feel confident and optimistic about your future? Do you have good communication with those you love? Are you able to express your feelings and process difficult times yourself and your loved ones? Does anyone bring you down when you are around them?
As you answer these questions, it might help you realize that some people you thought you needed to be around feel more like an obligation and stress you out. It's not always easy to put up boundaries in our relationships, but it is essential to your emotional health.
Physical health is a component of a holistic approach, just like emotional wellness. They might have their separate part in our well-being, but they do work together. You can't be emotionally healthy and not physically fit. And by physical health, I don't mean you have a six-pack and can run five miles.
Physical health involves nutrition, sleep, and physical activity. Often, our bodies might be fatigued or not feeling good because we aren't taking care of it. Healthy eating habits and an increase in physical activity can help reduce overall anxiety and stress.
Get your butt out the door and start moving for 30-60 minutes a day.
Day 3 Keep a Feelings Journal
Don't barf on me now. It's important to understand patterns of feelings. Start tracking how you feel every day. It's doesn't have to a lengthy journal entry filled with emotion. Just jot down, "I feel sad" or "I am in love." Whatever you are feeling, open your calendar, and make a note in it. At the end of this challenge, look back and see if you can track any patterns.
My fiancé had me start doing this a while back when I was stressed. But instead of putting it in my calendar, I sent him a text every day to tell him how I was feeling. It helped me realize what I was feeling, and it helped him know how to work with me and love me in my feelings.
Day 4 Practice a Breathing Exercise
If you have never tried it, don't laugh until you do. Breathing exercises are a great way to calm down in the middle of a panic attack, overwhelming feelings, or just plain frustration.
Take a minute when you feel like screaming and focus on your breathing to help calm and center you.
- Breathe in deeply and fully.
- Then lengthen the inhalation for two more counts.
- Now breathe out as deeply and thoroughly as possible.
- Continue the exhalation for two more counts.
- Relax, pause, and then repeat for five slow cycles.
Day 5 Take an Actual 30-Minute Lunch Break
I can't tell you how many times I skipped my lunch break to keep working on a project and then at the end of the day was so tired and stressed from non-stop work.
Take your full 30-minute break for lunch. Turn off your phone if you can. Sit outside if the weather permits. Take a short walk. And eat a healthy lunch.
Phew, that was a lot of things to do in 30-minutes, but you get the idea. Be present, and enjoy the moment.
Day 6 Try Something New
New experiences can be scary, but they can also be invigorating. It is easy to get caught up in routine and favorites, but new experiences allow our brains to experience the unexpected. Whether it's a new experience, a new food, a new exercise, your brain thrives when challenged. New experiences help release dopamine and engage different parts of your brain- which is crucial to keeping your mind active and flexible.
When was the last time you did something new? Challenge yourself today. What have you always wanted to try, but haven't gone and done?
Day 7 Review Your Self-Care Needs
Let's be real, who doesn't like to pamper themselves?! I don't know anyone. So think about your current self-care practices. Do you do them weekly, monthly? Do you enjoy them and look forward to it, or is it more of a habit and chore?
Maybe it's time to find some new ones. Get rid of the ones you feel are a chore, unless it's something like showering or brushing your teeth.
I used to love to give myself a pedicure and manicure. Weekly I would get all my nail tools out and spend an hour pampering myself. I loved it. Until recently, it then became something of a chore. So I stopped. Yes, I still trim my nails and keep them filed, but I don't spend an hour every week caring for them and then painting them. Maybe one day, I will get back to it, but for now, it's not what I love for self-care. Instead, I make my face masks and pamper my face!
Day 8 Create a Self-Care Box
Alright, so you have reviewed your current self-care routines. You know what you want to do for self-care. Now create a self-care box with those items. Fill your box with all the things you love for your current self-care routine.
Day 9 Do a Brain Dump
Brain dump time! Write down anything you are worrying or stressing about today. Every single thing, even if it seems silly.
Research shows that when you purge your brain of everything stressing you out, it can help unburden you and help you feel freer and lighter.
Once you have written everything down, throw the list away. It's almost like you are tossing your cares into the trash!
Day 10 Spend 2 Minutes on Meditation Today
Meditation isn't always easy. You are supposed to sit in your thoughts, and for some, that sounds excruciating, especially when you are told to try it for 10-minutes a day your first time. It's why we picked two!
Meditation takes time to build up to 5+ minutes. It's why meditation is a practice. Start with a low minute goal and work your way up. Don't be discouraged if you successfully meditate for 1 minute, and that is all you can do. It takes time to learn how to still yourself and sit alone in your thoughts.
Mindfulness is a useful way to practice engaging in the present, accepting events and feelings without judgment, and moving through life calmly and with ease.
Here are some easy, beginner meditations you can incorporate into a meditation practice.
Day 11 Do a Quick Workout
Physical activity comes with tons of mental health benefits. Take, for example, a 30-minute walk. By walking 30-minutes a day, you can improve your skin texture, prevent heart disease, improve your mood, strengthen bones, and help with weight management.
Whether you love running, weight lifting, or the gentleness of yoga, do a 30-minute workout, and see how you feel after!
Day 12 Go to Sleep Early
What's early for me might be late for you. The idea with today's task is to prioritize your sleep over that new Netflix special. Giving your brain rest is crucial for overall, better physical, and mental health.
- Put away digital devices 2 hours before bed.
- Have your last drink (alcoholic) 2 hours before bed.
- Eat your biggest meal earlier in the day.
- Try CBD! Yes, we are a CBD shop, but CBD has been shown to improve sleep cycles when used consistently.
Day 13 Gratitude Time, But to Your Housemates
Who doesn't love a day that starts and ends with thinking about what makes you grateful? Even in the chaos of life, there is always something that should make us feel blessed.
Gratitude makes everyone happy. Getting into a regular habit of practicing your gratitudes is so good for the soul, and when you practice it on your housemate- whether that is your spouse, kids, or roommates- they too will benefit from a full heart of knowing why you are thankful for them.
Day 14 Give Yourself Permission to Be Selfish
I don't think a daily practice of selfishness is good for a person, but I believe that one should take time weekly to do something for themselves. So many times, growing up, my mom put her happiness or needs on hold for her kids. And while we are thankful for her sacrifices, every one of her six kids would tell you we wish that sometimes she had done something nice for herself.
So make today about you. If you have family or kids, this might be harder, so schedule it with your spouse or a babysitter. Then go and do something that makes you happy and is all about you.
Refresh yourself, and don't feel bad about it.
Day 15 Curate Your Social Media Accounts
We talked about unplugging from our devices at times, but now we will talk about curating or overhauling your social media accounts. Do you ever get on social media and start scrolling only to get more depressed? It can happen.
When that happens to me, I like to overhaul my account. This means that I go through my newsfeed and unfollow anyone that is not encouraging me or giving me excellent content. Yes, that even means I unfollow friends. And guess what, I don't feel bad about it.
So, sit down and start scrolling. Then press unfollow. I promise you will feel better next time you get on your account!
Day 16 Say Yes to Unscheduled Time
Say yes to unscheduled time is not your invite to say yes to the next invitation you receive. It's your opportunity to say no to the event, and yes to doing nothing.
I love having a calendar day that has nothing on it. It's my favorite.
Day 17 Make a New Rule. No Phones at Dinner.
Encourage connection. Make a new rule in your house that there are no phones at the dinner table. And if you already have that rule, expand it to breakfast!
As you practice this rule regularly, you will realize that it even follows you to when you are at meals with other friends and family. And then you will discover how often people check their phone when you are with them.
This rule has helped my fiancé and I be more present and maintain a healthy communication level. We still enjoy each other's company over a meal and look forward to no phones.
Day 18 Practice an Active Meditation
As we talked about earlier, traditional meditation isn't for everyone, but kudos to you for giving it a shot! Today try a more active mediation. And by this, I mean practice being in your thoughts while doing slow, gentle movements- like walking or yoga.
Day 19 Find Your Reset Button
Wouldn't that be great if we could just hit a reset button and everything would be great again? Since it's not possible, it is important to understand how you can personally reset yourself. For some, this might be grabbing a coffee with a friend; for others, it could be reading a good book. No matter what, resets your calm, do it today.
Day 20 Schedule a Date with Your Favorite Person
Maintaining healthy relationships is so critical to your overall emotional health. That's why today, you are scheduling a date with your favorite person. It could be a quick morning walk before work or a shopping and spa day. Whatever it is, do something you both enjoy.
Day 21 Host a Get-Together with Friends.
Friends make life fun. So why not host a get-together with your closest friends. And even in a time with social distancing, you can still safely practice that.
Day 22 Meal Prep
If quarantine taught me anything, it was that we ate out a lot before the quarantine. During that time, we developed a cooking practice at home and eating as healthy as we can. We even took turns cooking and set a dinner time so that no matter what we were busy doing, we knew what time food had to be on the table.
It helped us not order out, and even now that restaurants are open, we still practice meal prep and cooking from home.
Your mission is to sit down and plan out what you want to eat this week. Then go to the grocery store and get everything you need to make those meals. Once at home, make the meals and place in the fridge or freezer to save until you need them. And lets be real, try to make the meals healthy!
Yes, it is a lot of work for one day, but your weeknights will be so much more relaxed when you can just pull it out of the fridge and heat it!
Day 23 Close Work Computers after 5 pm
Working for home means we can sometimes overwork because we are home. It's essential to try still to maintain healthy working hours. Unless you have a deadline, try to end your workday no later than 5 pm. This will give you time to spend with your family, decompress from your workday, and even get in an evening walk!
Day 24 Practice Thought Noticing
Thought noticing is when you can allow that negative thought to arise and recognize in a non-judgmental way that it is present. Then you can offer a positive replacement to the negative thinking. A positive replacement can be an uplifting mantra, a beautiful picture, a song, or a prayer.
Thought noticing distracts the mind from the negative thought and reduces the chance that the negative thought will recur later.
So when a negative thought comes to your mind today, recognize it, breathe deeply, and then replace it with something positive.
Day 25 Plan a Trip
Yes, please! Who doesn't love getting away? It is healthy for you to get away from your routine and relax. Sit down with your spouse or friend and plan that much-needed trip, even if it's just a quick weekend getaway.
Day 26 Try CBD
Sometimes our body needs a little support in helping with our emotional well-being. CBD is a natural alternative to help relieve those daily stresses. CBD can calm the brain and support the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for processing healthy emotions and storing memories. A daily intake of CBD can boost our well-being and help us maintain a healthy emotional state.
Day 27 Develop Your Perspective Script
Stresses and worries can seem to pile up all at once. Get some perspective on those stresses and worries and ask yourself:
- How critical will this be in 6 months?
- Am I overdoing it?
- Do I have to do this?
Perspective will help you prioritize what's on your plate and maybe what you can take off.
Day 28 Hug Someone You Love
Did you know hugs are healing and can make you happy? Hugging someone you love for 20-seconds a day is a key to alleviating stress and beating burnout. A lingering embrace releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and improve your mood.
Go hug it out with someone and watch your stress melt away.
Wrapping it Up
It's the perfect month to focus on your emotional wellness before winter comes. While taking stock of our stresses and stress levels, it's ideal for making changes. Use this month to take charge of your emotional wellness, find the relaxing activities that work for you, and, most of all, breathe!