This is the Key Points handout from my Empowering Patients presentation on December 10th, 2020.
What is Emotional Wellness?
A deep sense of meaning and purpose, an abiding sense of peace, the ability to manage the stress and transitions of life, awareness of your thoughts and feelings and the ability to manage them.
Why emotional health matters
- Emotions influence our behaviour, our relationships and our thinking.
- Anxiety holds us back from doing what we need to do, from moving forward, from reaching out, and from giving our best to the world.
- Depression is a major cause of disability and absenteeism from work or school.
When your anxiety has a significant impact on your function at work, school or home or in your social life.
- Generalized Anxiety: excessive worry about many things
- Panic Disorder: recurrent panic attacks (symptoms may include chest pain, a racing heart, sweats, shortness of breath and dizziness)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: repetitive intrusive thoughts or recurrent compulsions to perform an act (e.g. checking, handwashing, rituals)
- Social Anxiety: excessive anxiety in specific social situations e.g. large groups, interviews, shopping
- Phobias: extreme specific fears e.g. spiders, heights, flying
The Symptoms of Depression: fatigue, change in sleep, change in appetite, impaired concentration, forgetfulness, thoughts of death or suicide, self-blame and guilt, feeling sad, hopelessness, lack of enjoyment or pleasure, loss of motivation.
Bipolar Disorder: episodes of depression and mania/hypomania (heightened mood and energy, overconfidence, decreased need for sleep, impaired judgment, decreased need for sleep, delusions of grandeur)
impaired reality testing, delusions (fixed false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), disorganized behaviour e.g. schizophrenia
KEY EMOTIONAL HEALTH SKILLS
1. A Meditative Practice
to calm your mind, centre your thoughts and reflect.
Recommended Reading on Mindfulness: Joseph Goldstein, Thich Nhat-Hahn, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield.
Podcasts/Websites: JackKornfield.com, TaraBrach.com
2. Cognitive Therapy
- Reflect on the thoughts that trigger your emotions. Is there another way to look at the situation?
- Question the underlying beliefs behind unhealthy thinking.
- Identify your cognitive distortions:
Emotional Reasoning: Inappropriately reasoning from how you feel e.g. “I feel something bad will happen; therefore, it will.”
Fortune Telling: Assuming that you really know how things will turn out e.g. “I’ll always feel this way.”
Mind-Reading: Believing you really know what another person is thinking e.g. ”I know why my friend didn’t call me back.” “I know they think I’m a loser.”
Overgeneralizing: Making broad assumptions based on the facts on hand e.g “No one cares about me.” “All men/women are the same.”
Polarizing: All or nothing, black or white, good or bad thinking e.g. “She used to be an angel; now she’s evil.” “Either you’re with me or against me.”
Shoulding: Inappropriate judgment e.g. “Everyone should always treat me nicely!” “I have to be perfect.”
Personalizing: Taking things too personally e.g. “He did that just to hurt me.”
Catastrophizing: Believing the worse things will happen e.g. “I’m going to fail and I’ll never be a success.” “This is the end of the world.”
Recommended Reading: Mind Over Mood by Padesky and Greenberger; Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.
3. Visualizing Your Goals
- Turn your problems into goals.
- Instead of replaying the past or ruminating on the negative, think about what you want.
- When you are most relaxed, visualize yourself having achieved your goal.
- How do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? Make it real!
4. MANAGING STRESS
Burnout: when the demands of work or life exceed our ability to manage them.
Seizing the Locus of Control
- Identify your sources of stress.
- Are you reacting in proportion to the stress?
- Recognize what you can change or control.
- Accept what you cannot change; assume responsibility for what you can.
- Recognize your choices.
The 80/20 Rule: 20% of our reaction to a situation is related to the facts; 80% arises from what we bring from our past and how we conceptualize the present.
The Daily Management of Stress
Be a good parent to yourself:
- Go out and play. Have an exercise routine.
- Don’t skip meals. Schedule regular healthy meals.
- Go to bed. Get enough sleep and take regular breaks.
- Go to the doctor. See your own family doctor appropriately.
Express your emotions with those close to you with a group of confidantes. Form or join a support group.
Live in accord with your values.
Attend to Your Relationships
- Foster emotional intimacy. Agree on a habit of checking in with one another each day. How are you feeling? How was your day?
- Show your affection. Express your positive feelings. Remember the 5 languages of love and the human brain’s Negativity Bias: You need to see and say 5 positives for every negative.
- Schedule regular dates, family time and time with good friends. Commit your time to who matters most. Don’t wait ‘til there’s time; make time!
- Communicate in a healthy way. Take a breath and let anger cool before you react. Acknowledge the other’s feelings and point of view. Express how you feel without blame.
Right Speech: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?
Where to Find Help
Canadian Mental Health Association
Courses, resources, cognitive therapy and support.
Burnaby Mental Health
fraserhealth.ca (604) 453-1900
Assessment, treatment, counselling and crisis intervention.
Cameray Child & Family Services
203 – 5623 Imperial Street, Burnaby (604) 436-9449 cameray.ca
Counselling for children and families.
Education, cognitive therapy courses.
BounceBackbc.ca a free online skill-building program for adults and youth over 15 years of age
Mood Disorders Association of BC
Support groups, cognitive therapy and wellness programs.
SAFER (604) 675-3985
Education, support and counselling for those who have suicidal thoughts, have attempted suicide.
Support for family members.
Burnabycoronavirus.com for COVID information, social supports and Doc Talks
The Four Foundations of Self-Care
- What you eat (what you put into your body).
- What you do (physical activity and rest).
- How you feel (emotional wellbeing).
- How you connect (healthy relationships).
Please share this information with your family, friends and anyone else who may find it helpful.
Together we’ll create a healthier community and a healthier future.