How to Manage Your Emotional and Psychological Well-Being
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How are you feeling? It seems people are overwhelmed lately with the new normal, and more than likely we will never see that normal again as times have changed. This time has presented a lot of life lessons and challenges to what we’re experiencing. To help you deal with those challenges, today I’m going to focus on psychological and emotional components to enhance your self-care.
Many of us are struggling to manage our thoughts. So much is consuming our mind every day; between work, being able to find necessities, the economy, homeschooling children, and COVID-19 information all over the media, it can be exhausting. Our day-to-day psychological and emotional well-being is a roller coaster. Right now more than ever it is key for us to calm the mind to keep us in a balanced and grounded place. So here are a few tips to help get our rollercoaster back on track.
Remember to mind your thoughts. Your mind is consumed by what you put in front of it. So, take breaks from COVID-19 to help you feel less overwhelmed. Choose one reputable source, such as the WHO or CDC, to get your information from and reduce the frequency of having the pandemic in front of you. This is not saying don’t stay informed, but if you have an on-slot of information in front of you – email, news, talking about the pandemic to others, others talking to you about it – it can be overwhelming. This can trigger a grief response because we are all grieving in some way. Maybe it’s missing those you love, or you didn’t get to go on a vacation you had planned, or you’re missing out on a wedding, or graduation. This makes us sad and starts to consume us. Our thoughts affect feelings, which affect our actions, which affect our thoughts, and around it goes. This is what we call the cognitive triangle; thoughts, feelings, and actions all work together. A negative thought can initiate a negative emotion or feeling, which can cause us to behave and act in a negative way. The good news is, the same goes for our positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. It may not always start with a thought, it can be a negative emotion or negative action that can lead us into this pattern of us being on a hamster wheel we can’t get off of. Intention is to give tools to manage this.
Fortunately, there are some really great tools to help with this. If you are a tech-savvy person, there is the CBT Thought Diary app. This diary app helps us to work with our thoughts in a way to identify cognitive distortion. Cognitive distortions are thought patterns that keep us moving forward with negative feelings. With cognitive distortion, we find ourselves catastrophizing a restrictive thought pattern that leads to the worse case scenario. Thoughts of “We’re never going to get past this, never going to get back to life as we knew it.” Once you’re aware of the distortion, the awareness then makes you conscious of the distortion that’s happening. You can move in a direction to reassess your thoughts, and become realistic with yourself. A way to do this is by countering negative thoughts and managing your thought world by coming up with a rational counter statement. Put your thoughts on trial. Prove to yourself that it’s worth thinking that negative thought. What’s the counter evidence. Here is an example of countering those negative thoughts: “I got into trouble at work. They’ll probably want to fire me soon because I can’t do my job.” A rational counterstatement would be: “I made a mistake at work, but everyone does from time to time. I usually get a lot of positive feedback about my work. I’ll be careful not to make that same mistake again.”
Another great resource is gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling is a way for you to remind yourself of the positives in your life. A great tip is to pick five things each day to be thankful for. Really put thought into this. Think about your day and what positives can you find from it? The sun was shining and you were able to go on a walk? That’s something to be thankful for! What about you got to video chat a loved one and you are thankful for the technology to be able to do that? There is a lot to be grateful for right now, we just need to remind ourselves to help us remove that negative thought pattern.
We have been doing challenges in our virtual programming, so I want to give you all a challenge to help you focus on self-care. Pick one area you want to focus on. Maybe it is to talk to a loved one every day, or to exercise 15 minutes every day this week, or to drink more water, or get better sleep. It doesn’t have to be a difficult focus area, just think of something that might help improve your positive thoughts. Next, schedule a check in time. Actively put it on your calendar. This is not about judging yourself, and not about going into a thought pattern that I didn’t do this well. This is just a check-in to keep yourself accountable and honoring that agreement you made with yourself. Another great tip is to make this a family effort. Check in with a friend or a family member for accountability, even if you don’t have the same focus areas.
I hope this helps you to remain positive and adjust your thoughts as needed. We could all use a little positivity in our day-to-day. Take care!