We asked Lizzy Shortall, author of Joy’s Playground to speak about Emotional Wellness Month. Here’s what she had to say.
Emotional Wellness is unique and as delicately balanced as a spider’s web
When we are feeling on track with our mind, body and spirit and making choices that keep us there, that is when we are experiencing emotional wellness. We can enjoy our lives. Major events and little things can pull us off course. It is important to look after the mind and the body as they impact each other. Ideally we want to be at our best to increase our resilience, that is our ability to bounce back well.
Emotional Wellness Tools
The emotional wellness tools I use and teach others to use are mindfulness, gratitude practice, self- belief, self- care, and self- compassion. That is a lot isn’t it? Yes it is, we are beautiful beings that need lots of tending to. I will give an example of how this translates into everyday living below. I increase the practice of these tools when I am under stress, pressure or upset.
What can we do to keep on track or get back on when we are feeling off?
We can actively practice the tools listed above. You may have heard a lot of reminders to reach out and ask for help or to ask someone if they are ok. That is not always easy. But if we can find the courage to share how we really feel, that is the best step towards feeling emotionally well. Sometimes the best way to explain something is by describing a real- life authentic example. I have a recent morning in mind, immediately I wonder what readers will think if I share how it really is for me some days. Then I remember it is hard to truly connect without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to say how it really is for us, with the right person, a loved one or a professional.
Feeling a little low?
I did not come to be a Resilience Trainer or to learn all these tools because I have always had a dandy time. No, like many of you reading this I have had my share of things to cope with and recover from. Thankfully today, for the most part life is great, but I do need to do a lot to keep it that way for myself.
Do you wake up feeling off or even a bit sad?
My life is the same as it was yesterday, even a little bit better. I have a lovely life; I have consciously made choices to live and work in the ways that make me happy. However, recently I woke up feeling not myself. This can happen to any of us, at any time, for any reason or no reason. Maybe you went to bed late, ate too much sugar or perhaps your hormones are acting up. There could be a million things going on. For me I think it is because it is approaching the time of year that I lost my brother suddenly. When the season starts to change I am reminded of the upcoming anniversary and get sad for a few days.
How do I use my resilience tools?
So, what does it look like when I am consciously looking after my emotional wellbeing? Aside from acknowledging and accepting it is ok to feel this way and it will pass, we do have to feel it to heal it. But the level of discomfort was over shadowing everything positive and the good feelings associated with those things, so I opted to actively restore perspective. I decided I can feel this grief and other emotions or experiences too. I did things to make room for the other things.
Be a friend to yourself
I asked myself what I would say to someone coming to me for resilience training support or even a friend. I remembered self-care is important and to try to use mindfulness and gratitude tools. I engaged in positive self-talk saying, remember to have self- belief, you have had lots of these moments; you can ride it out and it will pass.
I addressed it there and then. I did not put my own needs on hold unnecessarily. I have a six and a four-year-old. Instead of looking after my children first and myself second, this morning I let my husband take the lead. I drank some water, had my breakfast, I made a healthy choice of porridge and a coffee and already I felt a little better. Then I had my shower first before anyone else, instead of the usual routine of being last and in a hurry. I took my time and chose nice clothes and put on perfume, just for me.
Let your friends help you
I felt better, but still not good. My friend text and asked how I was. I was honest and said I don’t feel great today. There was still a lot of room for improvement in my low mood. She offered to collect the children later. I accepted her offer of help. I will say it again, let your friends help you.
We all want to feel alive and to enjoy life
In the past two years everyone has been coping in their own way. We have all managed that, but we want to do more than just get by, we want to have a pep in our step as we go towards or hopes, dreams and goals in life.
Making the right choices for you and living mindfully increases emotional wellness
I made another choice. Exercise really helps, it releases natural endorphins, it gets us out of the head and into the body. Once I had the children dressed, instead of my normal routine of cleaning everything up after the breakfast and maybe having more coffee (We don’t always make the right choices and that is ok, we want progress not perfection). I put on my trainers and let my husband know I wanted some fresh air and exercise and that I would be back in ten minutes.
Nature is extremely healing, supportive, restorative and calming for me. I live in the countryside. It was 8am so it was still misty. I had a brief mindfulness walk, engaging my senses asking myself what I can see, taste, smell, hear and feel. This got me out of my head into my body and senses and instantly lifted my mood. It was a beautiful fresh morning.
Gratitude is proven to increase our happiness and enjoyment of life
While on the mindful walk gratitude began to bubble up in me naturally. I thought I am glad to be alive and well. I saw a fantastic dewy spider’s web on a very old rusty gate. It was magical. I thought to myself, that spider doesn’t need everything to be perfect. It doesn’t care of that gate is freshly painted or one hundred years old. It does not have to feel great or for the weather to be dry to know it has the magic to weave its unique web. It just does its special spider thing regardless. It focuses on making sure each thread is as it needs to be, and it achieves its goal.
For me staying emotionally well is similar. I have learned to look after my needs independently of what is going on around me and even sometimes within me.
Hugs are helpful and cuddles are comforting
The children were cared for and cuddled and even managed lots of fun play together before they went off for the day. My husband got hugs. He knows I look after me for me, but also for him and the children. I got plenty of hugs too. The cat likely got extra cuddles too. Hugs and cuddles support emotional wellbeing but releasing feel-good endorphins.
Express yourself in your own unique way
For me that is writing for fun, therapeutically and professionally. I wrote a novel, fiction based on true events. It is a story based on how I came to know about resilience tools after I was bereaved by my brother’s suicide. It is called The Lotus and the Tiger. It is a book that offers hope of how we can recover, be content and even happy after tough things happen in our lives.
When I finished the novel I realised I want my children and all children, to learn and know how to apply resilience tools such as mindfulness, gratitude, self- belief, and visualisation. I wrote a children’s book called Joy’s Playground. It is a fun adventure that introduces children aged 4-8 years old these tools. It will be published by Cranthorpe Millner on October 26th, 2021.
Emotional Wellness is about doing all the little things you can do for yourself to be and stay well. If you wish to know more about these practices there is information on gratitude and guided meditations for children and adults on my website. www.themindfulplayground.com May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful and at ease.
– Lizzy Shortall