emotional wellness
Beautiful brunette lady in wheat field at sunset
Wellness in a wheat field.

Emotional wellness during challenging times may sound impossible. The past 2 years have included economic challenges, social unrest, the worst pandemic in modern US history, and an increasingly divided nation. Why is emotional wellness important? How can I maintain healthy emotions?

Challenges from 2020-2021

Any time period includes episodes that are good and bad and 2020-2021 was no exception. The past 2 years were unusual because of a number of significant challenges, each of which was more intense than is typical.

  • Economic Challenges – many small businesses have permanently closed their doors. 2021 included a labor shortage and rising inflation. Many individuals lost their jobs during the pandemic.
  • Social Unrest – The past 2 years have included an increase in crime, particularly in urban areas. There have also been riots and destruction of property.
  • Pandemic – The Covid-19 pandemic is the worst in modern times. By 2021, more people had died than during the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago.
  • Division – Americans have been divided over a number of issues for many years, including attitudes about race, religion, and politics. Those divisions seem to have been magnified during the past 2 years. People have widely different views of political issues, such as immigration, response to the epidemic, and role of government in society.

The above examples illustrate some general challenges during 2020-2021 that have made emotional wellness difficult. All of us also experience challenges unique to our particular situation. How has your health been? Your finances? Your social life? Hopefully, you have been doing well in all of these areas, but many of us have experienced significant stress over the past 2 years.

The stress we have experienced as individuals will take a toll on our health and well-being if we don’t cope well. While we all have different coping strategies, a key to withstanding both individual stress and general challenges we face as a society is emotional wellness. If we are not healthy emotionally, we become more vulnerable to individual stress and societal stress.

The Importance of Emotional Wellness

Our emotional wellness has an impact on physical health. Negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, and anger are normal human experiences and a natural response to some situations. When we have chronic emotional problems, such as prolonged depression, our physical health, our wellbeing is impacted in several ways.

  • Emotional Wellness Impacts Physical Health. Prolonged emotional difficulties puts stress on the immune system, increasing susceptibility to disease. Conversely, positive emotional experience strengthens the immune system.
  • Emotional Wellness Impacts Relationships. The emotional wellness of one person can have a huge impact on the relationship. If one or both of the partners are not emotionally healthy, then it can lead to concerns in the relationship. Relationships are important because they provide people with social support, companionship, and intimacy. When someone is not feeling well emotionally, it can be hard for them to provide any of these things for their partner.
  • Emotional Wellness Impacts Happiness and Life Satisfaction. Emotional wellness impacts happiness and life satisfaction in many ways. A person's mental health, physical health, relationships, and work are all affected by their emotional wellness. It is important to maintain a healthy emotional state for a fulfilling life.

How to Maintain Emotional Wellness

Physical activity is a great way to maintain emotional wellness. It releases endorphins that make you feel better about yourself and your situation. It can also help you think clearer.

One of the most essential aspects of emotional wellness is healthy relationships with others. You need to be able to trust the people in your life, and they need to trust you too. This will help you feel more secure in your life and less anxious about everything that's going on around you.

Positive thinking is another significant aspect of emotional wellness because it helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, which are two things that can really get in the way of feeling good about yourself or your situation. By focusing on the positives, rather than dwelling on what could go wrong, it’s possible to live in the moment and experience positive emotions.

Meaning and purpose are also important factors when it comes to maintaining emotional wellness because they give people a sense of fulfillment in their lives. That fulfillment can be an anchor when distractions and stress would derail a person from the life they want.

The above strategies are not complex, but they can be very difficult to implement. If it were easy, there would be very few people who were discouraged, anxious or depressed. Sometimes we know what to do but need extra support with execution. At times, reading or self-education will be sufficient. We often need the support of other people. That support can happen informally, through friendships or our social circles, but sometimes that is also not sufficient. In such cases, psychotherapy (or counseling) is what is needed.

Finding a Therapist

Finding the right therapist can be difficult. There is a stigma associated with mental health treatment. It can be difficult to know where to look and what to look for as you search for a therapist. It is important that your therapist is qualified. Make sure that this professional is licensed in your state in one of the following areas:

  • Psychologist. Psychologists who are therapists have a doctorate and focused training on clinical work.
  • Licensed Professional Counseling (LPC) or Licensed Mental Helath Counselor (LMHC). Professional counselors have a master’s degree in counseling.
  • Social Workers who are therapists have a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and a concentration in clinical work (in contrast to administrative work).
  • Marriage and family therapists have a master’s degree and focus on services to families and couples.

In addition to having a license that allows them to practice, a good therapist will also be the right fit to work with you. If you aren’t comfortable with them, no matter how much they know or how skilled they are, you probably won’t open up to them or benefit from their services.

Locating such a professional may start with an internet search. Google the type of therapy you are looking for (”psychotherapy for adult with depression” or “couples therapy”, or “play therapy for a 10-year-old girl”). You might also include the name of your town in the search. Online directories, such as psychologytoday.com can also be helpful.

An internet search may be a good place to start, but it is certainly not the only way, or best way to find a therapist. If your insurance plan has a mental health benefit, you may call your insurance company and ask for therapists in your area who take your insurance. You might also get a recommendation from someone you trust, such as your doctor, pastor, or other community leader. A personal recommendation will be a great help in deciding if you should call a therapist to see if he or she may be able to help in your situation.

If you are in the Piedmont Triad are of North Carolina, please contact us at Piedmont Counseling Center. Our office is located in Kernersville and we offer both in-person and virtual therapy sessions. Our phone number is 336-293-7406.

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