Hey everyone and welcome back! I hope you all had a restful, and if you felt the struggle of transitioning into online classes like I did, a rejuvenating winter break. While on break, I spent some time reflecting on the past semester and thought about how I could start the second one off feeling more prepared and with a routine that was sustainable enough to last me through until April. Typically, I immediately think of study techniques, organization methods, and scheduling in time for hobbies. I realized, though, that one thing encompasses all of those factors – emotional wellness.

Emotional wellness can seem vague because there so many parts to it, including awareness of your own emotions, your outlook on external circumstances, and your ability to handle stressors. However, the “official” definition of “emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times” (nih.gov). Good emotional health, being in tune to how you feel in different situations, and noticing how your emotions ebb and flow, affects all other aspects in our lives, including our academics and physical health. And it is separate from mental health, but just as important to focus on.

While I wanted to understand more about emotional wellbeing, I stumbled upon this “toolkit” on the National Institutes of Health webpage. The author highlighted some key components one can focus on to attain healthy emotional wellness, and below I include some practices that I thought would be realistic enough to introduce into our busy school schedules. I encourage you to join me in incorporating some of these practices in preparation for this new semester and begin to develop better emotional health, which could lead to better academic performance!

Key components to emotional wellness:

Resilience and a bright outlook: those with fewer negative emotions can bounce back from setbacks quicker and can keep their positive emotions for much longer.

Healthy coping mechanisms for stressors in life: learning healthier ways to cope with stress, which is unfortunately inevitable, can lead to boosts in resilience and lessen the amount of stress one feels later on.

Good quality sleep: our sleep affects our mental, physical and emotional health, and lack of sleep can make it harder to interpret and be attuned to our emotions.

Mindfulness: being aware of what is happening in the present moment, both inside of yourself and outside in your environment.

Strong social connections: strong and healthy relationships with others and the ability to read other people’s emotions greatly affects our emotional wellbeing.

Practices for healthier emotional well-being:
Journaling: Can your thoughts (good and bad) feel overwhelming sometimes? Write it down. It’s okay if it’s just a sentence or two, getting it down on paper can feel a lot more relieving than mulling over it in your head.

Develop healthy physical habits: try eating healthier meals or doing a workout you enjoy (yoga, pilates, walking, hiking, etc.) once or twice a week. Feeling good on the outside will release endorphins and make you feel good on the inside.

Getting more sleep: It can be hard since some days it feels as if there just isn’t enough hours in a day to finish the assignments you need to do, but try sleeping just an extra hour a few times a week and keep extending that another hour whenever you can.

Call a good friend or family member: call or facetime someone who makes you feel good once a week, or if your schedule allows, once a day!

Volunteer for things in your community that you’re passionate about: this may be slightly more difficult during Covid-19 and the restrictions that are in place, but if you are able to, giving back to your community can be extremely fulfilling and can boost emotional wellness.

Meditation: whether daily or once in a while, meditating will help you to practice mindfulness, and bring you back to focusing on yourself in the present moment and away from many of life’s distractions. There are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube that vary in length. Here’s one of my favourites:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0GtmPnqAd8

The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.