Emotional self-care has been pivotal in managing my mental health.
Adding in practices that improve my emotional state have made me feel better about life overall and just makes getting the day to day things I need to do easier.
Without these tools, I don’t think I could manage my depression and anxiety.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or if you just want to step up your self-care routine check out the ideas below.
I hope they help you feel better.
To take care of yourself emotionally you have to be willing to feel your feelings and dig into things that are holding you back.
I’m not big on just digging stuff up over and over for no reason. While I think that you need to feel your feelings and not ignore emotions I also don’t believe that suffering is required to heal.
Beating yourself up, dragging up the past and focusing on painful events in your life doesn’t help you heal or move your life forward.
You need to get honest with yourself and see if there are things in your past that you’ve been avoiding or that you need to deal with.
Hiding your feelings is a surefire way to keep living out the same unhealthy patterns over and over again.
Here are some journal prompts to help you get honest with yourself.
- What event or experience do I bring up in conversation or think about often?
- What is holding me back in my life?
- If I could completely heal any area of my life it would be:
- Thoughts or memories that still cause me pain are:
We all make mistakes.
Trust me, I’ve made plenty in my life.
I’ve hurt people I cared about, treated people poorly and done countless other things that I really regret.
I tend to be really hard on myself and it’s easy for me to make myself feel bad for things that happened in the past.
While it’s important to take responsibility for your actions and the way you treat the people in your life it doesn’t do anyone any good to make yourself miserable.
At a certain point, you have to work on forgiving yourself so you can move forward.
Otherwise, you’re going to be continually bringing up shit from the past and moving forward will become impossible.
Forgive Other People
The worst kind of people to be around are the ones with a chip on their shoulder.
Do you really want to be the person that is holding a grudge or constantly blaming other people?
Forgiving others isn’t about them.
In fact, I think you can forgive people without ever contacting them or having a conversation with them.
You don’t need anyone’s apology or permission to move forward.
Holding onto hurt and pain from how someone else treated you is ultimately going to hurt you and your future relationships.
You have the power to forgive this person and move on.
Forgiving someone that hurt you can be really difficult to do but it’s so worth it.
When I was finally able to forgive an ex that treated me really badly I felt a million pounds lighter.
It honestly made my entire life better. Dating became easier and I slept peacefully at night.
Holding onto a grudge is draining and doesn’t help you.
I believe forgiving everyone that has hurt you is one of the best forms of emotional self-care you can do.
Do Things You Enjoy
Part of emotional self-care is identifying what activities bring you joy and incorporating them into your life.
I like to have a 90s dance party in my kitchen every morning while I make coffee.
This seems like a stupid practice but if I don’t make space for fun in my life I end up working all day every day.
While I love my work I often need to make sure I have moments of fun and silliness during the day.
Dance parties are a big part of my emotional self-care because they bring me joy and make me laugh.
What can you add to your routine just for the sake of having more fun?
When you write out your to-do list make sure you include a couple things just because they make you happy.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the grind of getting everything done and never take time to enjoy your life.
Set Strong Boundaries
This is something I still struggle with.
I am definitely getting better at it but I have to really pay attention to how I am allowing people to treat me.
Setting boundaries lets you decide what you will tolerate in your life.
You can set boundaries around how your physical space is, how people treat you or any areas of your life that you aren’t satisfied with.
It’s important that you are clear about what you will tolerate and then you communicate your boundaries to other people in your life in a caring and direct way.
Those conversations can be tough and they are something I’ve avoided in the past.
However, I find that the more I have difficult conversations with people the easier they get.
Being willing to have those difficult conversations shows that you value yourself and is a great way to practice emotional self-care.
Eliminate Negative Activities and People
I think one of the most powerful things you can do for emotional self-care and mental health is cut out people and activities that drain your energy.
When I started to eliminate complaining from my own life I also found that I naturally gravitated towards people that are positive and focus on the good parts of life.
Over time, I’ve naturally limited time with negative people and build friendships with people that inspire and motivate me. Everyone complains (myself included) but I choose to try and see the good in things and I prefer to spend time around others that do the same thing.
It’s fine to spend time around old friends and I think cutting people out of your life altogether is pretty extreme.
I think a good self-care practice is to notice who you spend your time with and how they make you feel.
When you do find yourself spending time with negative people try and bring a lot of positive energy to the interaction to try and raise the dialogue.
I find when I really focus on bringing positivity to a conversation that other people complaining doesn’t impact me that much.
Move Your Body
Exercise has been one of the biggest game changers in my fight to manage depression and anxiety.
If you want to improve your life I really believe exercise is the way to go.
If you want effective at-home workouts I use and recommend these.
Any exercise that you do and enjoy can improve your mental health.
I’m not someone that naturally enjoys exercising. Most days it’s a mental battle to get myself to workout.
However, I make myself do it because the benefits of regular exercise have truly changed my life.
I have more energy, feel more optimistic and just feel better overall.
I believe exercising is one of the best ways to care for yourself emotionally.
Every time you workout you flood your brain with good chemicals and studies have shown that exercising can be as effective as anti-depressants for some people.
On top of that, you also get all of the physical benefits of working out too.
It’s a win-win and if you’re not regularly exercising I suggest finding a way to incorporate it into your routine ASAP.
In addition to exercising I’ve also found that diet plays a huge role in my emotional health.
I feel like everyone knows they should be eating healthier and working out and no one wants to hear about it anymore.
However, it has really made such a huge difference in my life I just can’t leave it out.
When I eat a lot of carbs and sugar my mental health and emotional wellbeing really suffer.
I feel best when I eat high fat, lots of protein and tons of veggies.
Everyone’s body is different and I’m not going to tell you what to eat.
I just think it’s important that you focus on eating things that give you energy and make you feel good.
I’ve been slowly cutting out foods that aren’t good for me and adding in more healthy things.
What is something you could give up that would improve your health?
Last year I cut out Diet Coke and stopped eating sugary snacks and candy.
Just cutting out those things made me feel better but I also started making sure I eat lots of vegetables with dinner.
I’m not always perfect and sometimes I eat a bunch of candy or have junk food for dinner.
However, these times are few and far between and the majority of the time I am drinking water and eating salad for dinner.
These small changes have had a huge impact on my overall emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Talk To a Professional
I am a huge advocate for getting a freaking therapist.
Going to therapy changed my life in all of the best ways and I don’t think I ever would have learned how to manage my depression and anxiety if I hadn’t worked with some wonderful professionals.
Therapy gives me a safe place to talk about the things that are on my mind and to get valuable feedback.
Therapy can be expensive (this is the most affordable option I’ve found) but for me it is worth the investment.
I wouldn’t have been able to get the perspective and tools I needed to heal my life and become a happy person if I hadn’t invested a significant amount of time and money into therapy.
It can be intimidating to go to therapy for the first time if you’ve never gone before and it can take a while to find the right therapist for you.
However, if you’re struggling with your mental health or feel like you need some support to process something from your past I really recommend you try it.
I spent a lot of time journaling every morning and it is one of my favorite activities for self-care.
Writing helps me get clarity around whatever issues are coming up for me and gives me a way to process all of my emotions.
Having a safe space to write out whatever is going on in my mind has helped me get honest with myself and figure out what I want in life.
My journaling practice gives me a way to reflect inwardly every single day and that helps me stay focused on what’s important in life.
You can find my favorite journal prompts for depression and anxiety here. If you’ve never journaled before using journal prompts can help you get started.
Before I started my personal development journey my mind was a negative wasteland.
Over the years I’ve used affirmations to reprogram my mind to be more positive.
This has had a huge impact on my life because now instead of constantly focusing on the negative my mind is starting to look for the good in situations.
This shift has had a profound impact on my mental health and how I feel about life.
Having a positive outlook has had a profound impact on my depression and anxiety.
If you’ve never used affirmations before be sure to check out my guide here.
It’s important to pick out affirmations that feel true to you.
If you’re really struggling right now and you try to use an affirmation like “I am positive in every situation” but you don’t feel like that statement is true it probably won’t help you that much.
Choose something more broad to start with like “every day I grow and learn”.
An affirmation like that is easier to get behind and you’re more likely to be able to believe it is true. Here are some of my favorite affirmations.
- Things always work out in my favor
- Everything ends up happening for my highest good
- I am an unstoppable force for good
- Things always happen in perfect divine timing
- What is for me will not pass me
- I am strong and never give up
- Healing is possible for me
Consume Positive Media
One of my favorite things to do for emotional self-care is to consume positive media.
For me, this means listening to a ton of personal development podcasts and audiobooks.
Last year I made a big effort to limit the amount of mindless TV and news shows I consume.
I used that time to start listening to uplifting books and podcasts instead and it had a huge impact on my mental health.
If you don’t have positive people in your life to spend time with I think it’s even more important that you consume positive media.
Hearing positive messages can help you feel more positive and hopeful about life and challenge your negative beliefs.
This has been vital in healing my mental health.
I love setting big scary goals.
It excites me to work towards improving my life and to grow into a better version of myself.
For me personally, I’ve found that I am happiest when I am working towards some sort of goal.
When I am directionless or don’t have a goal to focus on I feel unmotivated, uninspired and stuck.
Setting exciting goals means I always have something I am working towards that I am looking forward to achieving.
Goal setting has become a big part of my emotional self-care process. If you’re feeling stuck in your life try asking yourself some of these questions.
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What would your dream life look like ten years from now?
- If you had unlimited amounts of money what would you do?
- What is your purpose in life?
- What does your perfect day look like?
Try Something New
Trying new things helps me to stay motivated and inspired.
When I don’t try anything new I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and living the same days over and over.
Sign up for a class for something you’ve always wanted to try, go to a new park in your city or explore something that recently opened where you live.
Trying new things brings me joy and gets me out of my comfort zone a little bit.
I find that trying to do a couple of small things every week to get me out of my routine helps me stay positive and happy about life.
Otherwise, it’s easy to get bored or just stuck on autopilot going through the motions of getting everything done every day.
It’s important to make time for fun and adventure by trying new things.
Declutter Your Space
I’ve been really into decluttering lately.
It feels emotionally cleansing for me to get rid of all the stuff I’m no longer using.
I like to write out a few pages of everything that I want to emotionally clear and leave behind in my journal.
Once I have my list I like to clean and declutter my house as a physical representation of the emotional space I’m clearing.
I have a whole video I made about this process you can check out below.
I’m actually a really messy person but when I take the time to clean my physical space I feel like it is really good for my mental health.
I try to take time to do a deep clean of my house every week as a form of emotional self-care.
Whenever I’m really struggling I try to focus on doing random acts of kindness or doing something nice for someone else.
If you need some ideas I have a post of random acts of kindness you can check out.
The more I’m able to do for other people the better my life is overall.
I tend to get really in my head and can end up dwelling really intensely on my thoughts.
Thinking about other people helps break my focus and gives me something positive to think about.
If you find that you’re intensely thinking about everything you don’t like about yourself or your life try breaking your thought process by thinking about something kind you can do for someone else.
Spreading kindness is a great form of emotional self-care because it gives you something positive to think about and feel good about.
Change Your Focus
I have a podcast episode you can listen to about this if you’re interested.
I try to intentionally have more positive thoughts by noticing whenever anything good happens and then using that as a trigger to think about all the things I am thankful for.
If I find a good parking spot I’ll think “I’m so thankful I got this parking spot.
I have so many blessings in my life. I’m thankful for this and this and this and this etc”.
This practice means I am actively thinking about all the blessings I have multiple times a day because anytime anything good happens I go on a gratitude rampage in my head.
I like making gratitude lists in my journal too but I also like just thinking about my blessings in my head because I can do it all day long.
Focusing on gratitude has really helped improve my mental health because I am thinking about everything that is good about my life instead of everything I don’t like or am unhappy with.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for emotional self-care practices you can try out.
All of these things have made a huge difference in how I feel about my life and I hope they help you too.
If you’re looking for more self-care resources be sure to check out my other posts here.
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I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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