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Emotional Wellness (Davidicus Wong)

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

  1. Emotions influence our behaviour, our relationships and our thinking.
  2. 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.
  3. Depression is a major cause of disability and absenteeism from work or school.

Video: Why Emotional Health Matters


Anxiety Disorders

When your anxiety has a significant impact on your function at work, school or home or in your social life.

  1. Generalized Anxiety:excessive worry about many things
  2. Panic Disorder:recurrent panic attacks (symptoms may include chest pain, a racing heart, sweats, shortness of breath and dizziness)
  3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: repetitive intrusive thoughts or recurrent compulsions to perform an act (e.g. checking, handwashing, rituals)
  4. Social Anxiety: excessive anxiety in specific social situations e.g. large groups, interviews, shopping
  5. Phobias:extreme specific fears e.g. spiders, heights, flying


Mood Disorders

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)


Psychotic Symptoms:impaired reality testing, delusions (fixed false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), disorganized behaviour e.g. schizophrenia


Video: 4 Key Emotional Health Skills

Key Emotional Health Skills

  • A Meditative Practice to calm your mind, centre your thoughts and reflect.

Recommended Reading on Mindfulness: Joseph Goldstein, Thich Nhat-Hahn, Jon Kabat-Zinn.


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
    • all or nothing thinking – seeing all the bad in another person or situation; catastrophizing – imagining the worst;
    • excessive self-blame

Recommended Reading:Mind Over Mood by Padesky and Greenberger; Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.


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!


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:

  1. Go out and play.Have an exercise routine.
  2. Don’t skip meals.Schedule regular healthy meals.
  3. Go to bed.Get enough sleep and take regular breaks.
  4. 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.

  1. Foster emotional intimacy.Agree on a habit of checking in with one another each day. How are you feeling? How was your day?
  2. Show your affection. Express your positive feelings.
  3. Schedule regular dates.Commit your time to what matters most. Don’t wait ‘til there’s time; make time!
  4. 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.
  5. When things get stale, have an affair. . . with your partner.


Video: Keys to Managing Stress

Where to Find Help

Canadian Mental Health Association

Courses, resources, cognitive therapy and support.


Burnaby Mental Health (604) 453-1900

Assessment, treatment, counselling and crisis intervention.


Cameray Child & Family Services

203 – 5623 Imperial Street, Burnaby (604) 436-9449

Counselling for children and families.



Education, cognitive therapy courses.



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.


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.

Caregiving Emotions

Let’s talk about your emotional health


Your emotional wellbeing is an essential part of your health, but many patients only see their doctors when something is wrong with their bodies.

In the daily reality of my family practice, I assist patients coping with overwhelming emotions, troublesome thoughts and anxiety. Many initially present a physical problem, such as abdominal pain or insomnia as the reason for the visit.

Physical problems themselves are a cause of distress and can have a significant impact on our lives. Yet emotional distress can result in even greater negative effects.

Our emotional states can narrow our thoughts and influence our behaviour, affecting our enjoyment of life, our performance at work or in school, and how we relate to others. This can create vicious cycles of distressing emotional states, negative or anxious thinking, and worsening of our circumstances that in turn leads to increasingly negative feelings.

Our feelings shape our thoughts. When anxious, we may see a more threatening, overwhelming and unpredictable world. We underestimate our ability to cope. We overestimate what we must deal with.

When we become depressed, we may see our selves, others and our circumstances in a negative light. We have more difficulty seeing our own good qualities and abilities, the good in our relationships and the positive aspects of our circumstances.

Many people suffering from emotional symptoms hesitate to get help because they think they should be able to manage on their own. Although normal emotional reactions are part of life – it’s human to feel sad if we lose a loved one and anxious when we’re threatened, we need help when our emotions are of an intensity and duration such that they negatively impact the important areas of our lives, including our relationships and our performance at school or work.

Family members and friends sometimes don’t know what to do when someone they care about is suffering emotionally. Some mistake depression for a minor case of the blues that we all suffer when things don’t go our way, but people with depression can’t just snap out of it.

They need more information on how to recognize serious emotional problems and how to get help.

The Doctors of BC (British Columbia Medical Association) has just launched a new website, as part of its Council on Health Promotion Youth Mental Health Project. It contains valuable links to resources for youth and young adult patients and families, teachers and health care providers.

You’ll find information about common emotional problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and psychosis. On the site, you can find online tools for self-assessment, practical self-help information, tips for managing stress and information to access professional help.

Even if you’re neither a youth nor a young adult, check out this invaluable website anyway. You’ll find helpful suggestions that anyone can use to manage stress and maintain emotional health.

And if you need some help with your emotional health, talk to your family doctor. It’s part of what we do to care for you as a whole person.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician.