It’s that time of year when we’re all exhausted. Whether it’s work projects to be finished off before the year end, social occasions that demand our attention or the planning needed for all those house guests over the festive season… there’s so much required from us right now, precisely when we’re very low on emotional reserves.
That’s why it’s important to take our own steps to ensure our emotional wellbeing, as we can’t always rely on others to do it. In fact, we need to be the champions of our emotional health, because we all know it directly impacts our physical health too. Here are some ideas on how to do this:
Switch off social media
The perils of social media are well documented. There are various studies showing how increased social media use can lead to increased feelings of isolation and in fact, this is reinforced by many professionals. “Two of my friends suffering from anxiety were recently advised by their therapists to delete Instagram and Facebook off of their devices, because the perceived perfection of other people’s lives was a direct contributor to their stress,” says Amanda Harding* from Cape Town. When used incorrectly, social media can become like a drug, and beyond sapping all of our free time, it can deplete our emotional energy and leave us feeling worse after using it − not better.
Go to bed an hour earlier
Sleep is an integral part of wellness. Hospitality Sales Executive Rethabile Molisana says that one of her tricks is to exercise daily and go to bed earlier than usual. But be sure to ban your phone or other electronic devices from the bedroom while you enjoy this extra time resting. Content marketing specialist Stacey Vee says she does this too: “I only allow myself to read a book in bed, not my phone. I also have a Himalayan salt lamp that casts a soft pink glow that gives healing vibes,” she says. Put that soft lighting on, ban the devices, and then meditate, listen to relaxing music or read an uplifting novel that transports you to another world.
Spend some time alone
It can be difficult to say no during a busy time of year but often that’s precisely what you need to do. Writer Cath Jenkin says she has to do this purposefully when times are tough: “I schedule myself some time for me. Even if that means turning things down, I do it.” Entrepreneur Kirsty Bisset agrees, saying that being alone fills up her emotional tank: “I’ll dive into work or writing and come out better the other side”. Whether you’re an extrovert who thrives on being around people, or an introvert who recharges while solitary, we all need some alone time in order to consolidate our thoughts, rethink our priorities, and prepare for the future.
Go for a walk, a surf or a run
Writer Melissa Volker says that she takes care of her emotional wellbeing by getting out into the ocean and getting some exercise. “I go surf my SUP… time stops, it's just me, my thoughts and waves. No devices out there and the energy from the ocean is uplifting”. Penny Haw, who is also a writer, agrees wholeheartedly on the exercise front: “Exercise works for me… a hike or a hard work out at the gym”. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous activity, it can be as simple as walking the dog and getting a change of scenery, plus a breath of fresh air into your lungs.
When we’re stressed, planning and preparing meals can slip quickly down the priority list. But food is the fuel our bodies need to function, and it’s linked closely to our emotional health too. “60% of the time it’s when I have not been eating well, that the doldrums or exhaustion hits,” says Cath. If you’re unable to get to the shops, then buy groceries online and get them delivered, or sign up for one of the many meal delivery services that are offering healthy, nutritious choices to busy people. If those are out of your budget, then lean on family and friends, and say that you’d really appreciate a delicious meal. You’ll be surprised at how much your loved ones really do want to help – you just need to tell them how.
If you personally are looking for support with your emotional wellbeing, some medical schemes like Fedhealth provide a specific emotional wellbeing benefit that gives you access to wellbeing experts like life coaches, trauma counsellors and legal and financial professionals.
*name has been changed