A is for: A to Z of Emotional Health and Wellbeing –
We are delighted to introduce a new regular contributor to Bringing Us Together, Angela Kelly.
Angela is a counsellor/psychotherapist working with adults and adolescents but most importantly, Angela is also a Mum who understands personally the challenges and rewards of raising children with SEND.
Angela’s experience and knowledge is invaluable and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to share some of that with you.
Emotional wellbeing is equally as important as having good physical health. If you feel good about things you are much more likely to be able to attend to your daily tasks such as self care, work, seeing family and friends and doing things you enjoy. If emotional wellbeing is ignored or less well attended to then difficulties such as low mood, worries, and an inability ‘pick yourself up’ can slowly creep up on you.
To be able to have a good balance of life experiences helps build emotional wellbeing and resilience. Too many difficult experiences can impact too much and create a dip in the balance and too few difficult experiences can impact in the development of resilience as a person is less likely to know how to respond to the feelings that problems bring up when they arise.
So with that in mind, I thought an A-Z on emotional wellbeing, feelings and resilience would be a helpful post.
So to kick off defining what an emotion is seems like a good start.
An emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience (eg tasting something), a physiological response (eg responding to the taste), and a behavioral or expressive response (eg how we perceived the taste and our response to it – did we like the food or spit it out).
(Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2007)
The psychology of emotion is often defined as a complex state of feeling. This can result in physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behavior. Associated emotionality can be a range of psychological phenomena including temperament, mood, personality and motivation. Author David G. Meyers describes it as human emotion involves “…physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.”
Any the wiser?
It’s a pretty complex explanation when you consider how quickly our body reacts or responds to feelings. No wonder we need to learn and educate ourselves about our emotions.
A to Z of Emotional Health and Wellbeing
So with this in mind I thought an A-Z of emotional wellbeing would be helpful, covering both the feelings we experience of pleasure and excitement and the more difficult feelings of pain, hurt and sadness and what good maintenance of these would look like.
A is for
Acceptance – The ability to accept you for who you are – Warts and all are a key part to good emotional wellbeing. If you can accept yourself then you are more likely to be able to accept others without judgement too. Self-acceptance enables you to begin living a life you want to live without the need to compare yourself or your abilities to those of others. You are not different – We are all different and that is OK!
Adjustment – When we encounter difficult situations in our life this brings with it difficult emotions. Emotions that we have the least experience of dealing with, and, therefore, the ability to process. Accepting that sad and tragic things happen can be too much to bear and we may never be able to accept it but learning to adjust to a different life may be what is needed to enable a life live with greater fulfillment.
Affection – The giving and receiving of affection can really build a relationship. To give or receive affection means allowing you to be vulnerable to another person, to allow the potential for rejection or connection to occur. This involves an element of risk and before denying you the possibilities of pleasure this may bring – explore what might be stopping you from trying or what might be making you jump in to deep to quickly.
Agitation – An emotion that can be brought on by feelings of anxiety – I am feeling anxious and unable to control this situation and therefore I can feel myself becoming agitated. If agitation continues it can develop in anger. An example of agitation – you leave your house a few minutes later than anticipated for an appointment, You are driving in your car and all is going ok until you see a line of traffic up ahead. You stop and wait in the traffic for a few minutes, minutes tick by and you feel yourself becoming agitated. Maybe you are cross with yourself for leaving late, maybe you want to blame somebody else for the situation you find yourself in. Maybe you want to project that agitation onto the cars in from of you. A few more minutes tick by and BOOM, the agitation has turned into anger and there is no explanation available to you for what has happened unless you can calm down and reflect later on what happened.
Anger – We all know about anger – It presents itself in many way eg road rage, being unheard, spurned by a lover, reminded of an incident that we want to forget, loss, making a mistake plus many more. When a need is unmet and remains unmet we will go through a range of emotions initially which, if the need remains unmet, can often turn to anger. At this point we are often not aware of why we are angry but we feel somebody or something have caused this anger to implode. If self exploration is unsuccessful then seeking professional support such as anger management or counseling may be really helpful to uncover any root causes or reasons why you are feeling this way.
Anxiety – A feeling that can range from mild butterflies in your tummy to all encompassing panic disorder. Anxiety is a natural emotion that it there to warn us of impending danger. To alert us to run away or to fight to the death – or at least that was its purpose many many years ago! Now it is different as we are highly unlikely to meet a grizzly bear on our morning commute, however no-one has told our brains that. Therefore our brains will still react as though it is a grizzly bear out to get us. Anxiety can also kick in when we have a need to know what is going to happen – When we have experienced difficult times in our lives such as abuse* in any form or a trauma* of any type then the unknown future become a scary place and our brains will continue to warn us that is scary and you need to be aware of this and you need to be ready deal with the problem in anyway you can whether that be to fight or flee or to flop or to flock.
*Trauma –In adults this can be a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Defining trauma can be very wide ranging and dependent on the individual’s age and experience. What Is considered traumatic to one person maybe considered as an ordinary life event to another. Trauma in children is often dependent on their age, children respond to traumatic stress in different ways. Many children show signs of intense distress—disturbed sleep, difficulty paying attention and concentrating, anger and irritability, withdrawal, repeated and intrusive thoughts, and extreme distress—when confronted by anything that reminds them of their traumatic experiences. Some children develop psychiatric conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and a variety of behavioral disorders
Arousal – arousal is an important sensation to be aware of as it is long debated that arousal is the pre emotion sensation that leads to the experience of an emotion. I see arousal as an awakening of a potential feeling which can be based on memory. Memory is awakened often by smell, hearing or seeing, tasting or feeling something and this then has an emotional affect on us. Whilst this is a fairly simplistic explanation try it for yourself – The smell of the seaside or of candy floss at a fair, the smell of an old car engine or tasting something, hearing music from your youth and you can instantly be transported back 20,30, 40,50 years and experience emotions directly connected to the memory. It can be the same for the less pleasant experiences we have in life too,
So there we have the A’s of emotion although I know there are many many more I have left the A’s of the A-Z here and would love it if you were to add some of your own thoughts to this please.
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Debs is one of the co-founders and Directors of Bringing Us Together. She is mum to three child with a variety of SEND and has a great husband.