The state of our mental health depends on our ability to overcome our own thoughts. This ability is affected by a bunch of factors, both external and internal. Things materialise in our brain that we cannot comprehend, much less explain. Thus the saying that mental health problems or mental illness is not seen, and so many suffer in silence. What can we understand about ourselves to help manage better?
While not mutually exclusive, the following provide some essential steps to emotional independence and freedom.
Self-care is the practice of consciously doing things that preserve or improve your physical, emotional or mental health (Scott, 2019). It is a self-initiated behaviour or practice that ‘people choose to incorporate in their daily lives’ (Mills et al., 2018) to promote good health and general well-being. Some examples of self-care include:
Self-esteem is your overall opinion on yourself — how you feel about your own strengths and limits. When you have a healthy sense of self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and believe that you are worthy of others’ regard. On the contrary, when you have poor self-esteem, you don’t appreciate your own thoughts and opinions. In other words, belief and confidence in your own ability and value and having respect for yourself is very important.
(Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, n.d.)
When you have good and positive self-esteem, you will:
Self-awareness is recognising how and what emotion you are currently feeling. Acknowledging your emotions may help you put things into perspective (Mind Tools, n.d.; Robbins, 2020).
Self-management is how you respond to a situation. It is how you control and utilise your emotions in a healthy way. It is not about hiding your emotions – rather, it is how you control them appropriately (SkillsYouNeed, n.d.). For example, it means doing your best to remain calm and rational in an unforeseen circumstance. With good self-management, you are able to express and manage your emotions better. Good self-management also means you have positive coping mechanisms.
Here are some ways to improve your self-management skills:
Self-regulation is the ability to manage our thoughts, emotions and behaviour; the ability to sit with our emotions calmly and skillfully in the face of whatever challenges we may encounter (Schwartz, 2022). Focusing on stress management, American journalist Tony Schwartz outlines six ways to self-regulate effectively: