Recently, I have made a renewed commitment to simplify my life and make a determined effort to get my life in balance. All the demands that came along with writing a book, editing, and work deadlines coupled with the normal responsibilities of taking care of my family and homeschooling my little ones left me feeling like my life had become chaotic. The past couple of months, I’ve been purposeful to make needed changes in my life. I was so excited when my friend Salida contacted me about writing a new series for Time 2 $ave. You’ll be seeing more from Salida every other week in her new series all about life on purpose. I’m so excited, and can’t wait to dive in!
One of my favorite movie quotes from my high school days is from the movie Heathers: “If you were happy all the time you wouldn’t be human, you’d be a game show host.” All I can think of is Pat Sajak spinning the Wheel of Fortune with a plastic smile. But the truth is we often believe the myth that we should be happy all the time. We believe we should avoid all emotions we perceive as negative, and if we do experience those emotions, then there must be something terribly wrong with us.
Emotional health is the next stop on our journey towards developing a healthy and whole you. To be healthy, we must be able to identify and work through our emotions in appropriate ways. It really is impossible to be happy all the time. I’m sure even ol’ Pat has a bad day now and then. Our emotions serve a purpose. They are sort of like the lights on the dash of your car. They alert you when there is something wrong, and if you don’t deal with them, you will likely be left with even bigger problems.
One aspect of emotional health that is important is feelings identification. In other words, finding the words that go with what you feel. To test your ability to do this, try to list 10 feeling words beyond happy, mad and sad. There at least hundreds of adjectives that describe feelings. And the more specific we are able to be with giving our feelings names, the more specific we can be in how we deal with the emotion. For example, sad describes a general feeling of being down or upset. However, despondent is a more specific word that describes the severity of your sadness.
The other aspect of emotional health that we will look at is dealing with the feelings we experience. It is key to understand that there are no right or wrong emotions. Feelings just are. It is ok to feel whatever you are feeling as long as you deal with those feelings in appropriate ways. If you are angry and you take a walk to think through your situation, you are dealing in a healthy way. But if you are angry and you punch a wall, I promise the wall will always win!
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings at an appropriate time and in a safe place. This may mean that you have to put your emotions aside until you get home from work or put your kids to bed, but it doesn’t mean you ignore them until you “car” explodes. You may cry, journal, pray, talk to an honest and loving friend. I’ve never heard someone tell me that allowing themselves to feel made them worse.
Sometimes when it comes to feelings of depression and anxiety, it is helpful to have some good coping skills. In addition to the suggestions above, you may exercise, play with your kids, clean, read a good book, or listen to uplifting music. Do something positive to help you get back to a better mental, emotional, physical, spiritual space.
Being healthy doesn’t mean being perpetually happy. We are human, and so is Pat Sajak. I’m sure spinning that Wheel and winning an exotic vacation would take care of whatever ails me for a while, but I’m horrible at solving those puzzles so I doubt that will ever happen (I’d have to be on the show first!). So for all the days we are not on a free exotic vacation, it’s important to know how to deal with how we feel about whatever comes our way in order for us to live healthy and balanced lives!
Salida Brooks, M.A. Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Services Provider
Salida is an Independent Counselor at Summit Counseling Center, a ministry of Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Liberty University. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and has experience treating depression and bipolar disorder, self-harming issues, anxiety, abuse, trauma issues, family and relationship struggles, low self-esteem, anger and aggression. Her primary focus in counseling is adolescents and women. Her passion is ministering to the hearts of hurting people through biblically-based counseling.
Salida is a frugal shopper and enjoys the challenge and satisfaction of couponing. She also enjoys sewing and other creative endeavors. Her great love is spending time with family and friends. Date nights with dinner and relaxing at home are a joy with her husband of 12 years, Craig. Cooking and shopping are her favorite activities with their 4 year-old little girl, Leah.