It is now widely accepted that self care is crucial for our wellbeing. And yet I still feel like self care is largely misunderstood.
What many people don’t know is that we have several different domains that each need taking care of for us to be our best selves.
One of these is our emotional self – in order to ensure that our emotional self is happy and healthy we need to regularly practice emotional self care.
What do you think about when I say the phrase “self care”?
My guess is that what springs to mind is bubble baths, face masks, spa weekends, massages and all that good stuff.
And if that’s the case, don’t worry – you’re certainly not alone in this!
When we think self care, we often think about what I would call physical self-care. But there are actually many more types of self-care that need our attention.
Namely, spiritual self-care, mental self-care, social self-care, professional self-care and of course… emotional self-care.
No one of these subtypes is more important than the other. They all equally need our attention in order to be well rounded happy and healthy humans.
But one type of self care that I feel gets way more neglected than the others is, indeed, emotional self care. And our emotional health pays the price.
In this post I’ll be discussing the importance of practicing emotional self care, and 22 simple ways to make this a part of your daily life.
This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.
What is emotional self care?
Before we get into some of my favourite emotional self-care activities, what actually is emotional self care?
Definition of emotional self care:The provision of what is necessary for identifying and nurturing your feelings, your conscious inner state, and your intellect. (Desert Alchemy)
In other words, emotional self care is a process in which we bring our awareness to our emotions and take the steps necessary in order to honour and care for these emotions and our emotional needs.
This is essential for our wellbeing. But unfortunately, this is something that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.
Instead, many of us completely ignore and try to push back our emotions (especially negative emotions) to the back of our minds in the hope that they’ll disappear.
Of course this only makes them stronger and can lead to feelings of burnout.
The importance of emotional self care
Emotional self care is important for so many reasons.
Here are some key reasons to make it a part of your daily routine:
- Better coping skills and resilience: Taking care of your emotions means that you’re less floored by them when they arise. This means that you’re better equipped to cope with adversity in the future and more resilient over time.
- Improved relationships: It’s not just you that benefits from taking care of your emotional health. Being more attuned to your emotions means better communication, empathy and understanding in your relationships (and less snapping at others!)
- Stress reduction: Self care in general can act as a buffer to the negative effects of stress, and emotional self care is no different.
- More self-awareness: Getting to know yourself and your emotions better leads to more self-awareness and ultimately, a better relationship with yourself.
- Improved physical health: A huge piece of the puzzle on my chronic illness journey has been repressed emotions wreaking havoc on my body and nervous system. Releasing emotions can lower stress levels in the body and even improve your physical health as a result.
Having an awareness of how to take more care of ourselves emotionally can serve us well when things get difficult. But as you might imagine, emotional self care will look different for each and every one of us.
Thankfully, there are steps that we can all take in order to take care of our emotions better!
Healthy ways to practice emotional self care
Now that you know the benefits of a regular emotional self care practice, let’s look at some ways to implement that.
Here are some powerful emotional self-care practices to make your emotional well-being a priority.
1. Allow yourself to feel
Arguably the most important step to emotional self care is allowing yourself to feel and experience the emotions that come to you.
Many of our problems arise when we try to fight off said emotions and don’t address them.
By allowing the experience of our emotions we can then begin to take further steps to heal them and then let them go.
This is a process that will get better with practice, but it generally involves dropping into the body when emotions arise and allowing yourself to feel the sensations and experience that come with negative feelings especially.
The key is not to fight the emotions, but to accept that they’re there and let them leave in their own time.
2. Get to know your emotional triggers
Once you allow yourself to sit with your emotions, you will become much more familiar with them and you will start to observe patterns.
What causes you to feel sad? Is there a particular person that you experience anger around?
Ask yourself what causes your emotions and you will know how to reduce negative ones in the future.
It might be a helpful idea to keep a journal so that you can pinpoint patterns and triggers.
Related post: Journal Prompts for Self Discovery
3. Put your own needs first
Many of us really struggle with putting ourselves first.
When we have other people who are dependent on us we can see our own needs as a last resort and neglect to take care of ourselves.
Switching your focus to yourself is the best thing you can do, not only for yourself but for others (these self care quotes may inspire you to do just that!).
This might also involve taking time out when you’re feeling particularly emotionally charged.
4. Set and enforce your own boundaries
Healthy boundaries are essential when it comes to emotional self care. If you have a problem putting yourself first, then maybe you also struggle with enforcing boundaries that are necessary for your wellbeing.
Try getting comfortable with saying no more often – some people may not like it but that’s okay!
If something is harmful to you emotionally, you are entitled to say no to it.
Take time to get familiar with what your emotional boundaries are too.
What kinds of conversations are you willing to participate in? What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with? What do you need in order to process your emotions?
These are all important things to consider when taking care of your emotional health.
5. Protect your energy from others
Surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you feel good.
Obviously this cannot be achieved all the time, but if anybody makes you feel drained or negative too often then distance yourself from them or let them go entirely.
It is much harder to protect your own emotions when you surround yourself with negativity.
But, if there are people you need to engage with who do have a negative impact (for example a toxic family member), look at ways that you can protect your energy before, during, and after engaging with them.
6. Practice meditation
Meditating regularly can help to increase resilience in difficult situations and make you react from your emotions less often.
A particular style of meditation that’s beneficial for emotional stability is mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present moment without judgment.
This can improve your capacity for sitting with difficult emotions over time.
Try to meditate daily for the best results. If you’re new to meditation, you can get started with my free beginners guide to meditation.
7. Start a journal
Journaling is an amazing way to release your emotions and gain some clarity.
If you feel like you get too caught up in emotions and can’t let them go, try making a regular habit of writing them down in your journal.
This can be particularly beneficial for overwhelming emotions like anger. A particular style of journaling called JournalSpeak (sometimes called rage on a page) is a good place to start with this.
You’d be surprised how beneficial journaling can be so schedule some regular time out of your day to give it a try!
8. Practice self-compassion
One of the most important things you can do to care for yourself is to practice self-compassion.
Become aware of the dialogue you have with yourself within your own head. Are you too hard on yourself?
If you find yourself constantly criticising yourself and using negative language, you need to switch it up and start treating yourself with the love and respect that you want from others.
A great way to start is by using self love affirmations!
9. Ask for help when necessary
Sometimes we just need to accept that we can’t do everything alone and ask for help when we need it.
Maybe the reason you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotion is because you’re trying to take on the world on your own. There is no shame or weakness involved in seeking support where necessary!
Whether it’s reaching out to your best friend or seeking professional help, consider seeking support the next time you’re having a heightened emotional response to something.
10. Schedule time to rest
Scheduling specific time to rest each day can help to ensure that you have adequate down time and don’t work yourself into the ground.
Feelings of overwhelm can arise quickly when we don’t allow ourselves to rest and recharge.
But remember to make this TRUE rest. Sitting in front of the TV has a time and a place, but it isn’t always enough.
Try to set aside some “quiet time” where you can simply just be (this is the kinda time when a bubble bath has its place in your self care routine!)
Learning to switch off can be hard but the more you do it the easier it becomes! Practicing meditation can also help to learn how to allow the mind to relax.
11. Do something you love each day
Not only is rest important, but so is doing something fulfilling each day. If you feel yourself caught up in the mundane and watching life pass you by… do something!
You’d be surprised how much better you feel when you add a little more positivity into your life each day!
Try taking up a new stress relieving hobby or regularly visiting a place that brings you joy.
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12. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is such a simple but powerful tool, which can change your life forever.
We’re quite literally wired with a bias for negative thoughts, so it’s up to us to shift our focus when we no longer want to dwell in negativity.
Incorporate more gratitude in your life to switch your focus to the positive and take control of your own emotions.
13. Learn to accept compliments
It may sound silly, but every time you dismiss or deny a compliment you are knocking your own confidence and selling yourself short.
The next time somebody compliments you, try responding with a simple “thank you” and acknowledge how the compliment makes you feel.
You don’t have to necessarily agree (at least not at first) but learning to accept compliments can positively affect the relationship you have with yourself!
14. Stop APOLOGISING for everything
Similarly, when you apologise for doing nothing other than being you, you’re putting out the idea that who you are isn’t acceptable.
Of course, apologise where it is necessary – but stop apologising when you may feel shame, embarrassment or like a burden.
And especially stop apologising when you release your emotions in the form of tears.
You are worthy and accepted just as you are, and all of your emotions are valid.
15. Learn from your mistakes
One of the biggest ways we can change the relationship we have with ourselves and care for ourselves emotionally is to see our mistakes as a learning opportunity, rather than a failure.
Mistakes are an inevitable part of life and they help us grow and become better. Each time you make a mistake, acknowledge where you went wrong and work to improve it in the future.
Make sure to forgive yourself too (that’s where self-compassion comes in!)
16. Create a playlist of calming music
Creating a calming playlist is a great way to soothe our emotions when we need some TLC.
If you feel like you need to take some time to relax then dedicate some time to just sitting and taking in the soothing sounds of the music you love.
You can even honour your emotions further by creating a playlist for each mood. If heavy metal helps you let off some steam when you’re angry then honour that!
Related post: The Best Songs for Meditation
17. Befriend your negative emotions
When difficult emotions arise it can be really hard to sit with them because we don’t exactly want to feel this way.
One way to change your relationship with “negative” emotions is to treat them like a friend.
See them as an individual part of you that is looking out for you and trying to keep you safe and protected.
Thank them for showing up for you in this way and watch how their intensity shifts! It might sound a little kooky… but trust me, it works.
18. Connect more deeply to your positive emotions
Something I noticed in my own life is that I was much more familiar with feeling negative emotions than I was with positive ones.
Feelings of joy, love, excitement, etc. just didn’t come naturally to me. So I have actively had to practice cultivating those emotions in adulthood.
This often means slowing down and “stopping to smell the roses” on a regular basis. Pausing in moments when we notice positive emotions and allowing ourselves to bask in them.
Over time feeling positive emotions comes more naturally.
19. Use breathing exercises
Breathing exercises have a multitude of benefits, and they’re not just something for our physical health.
Breathwork can help to dampen the intensity of emotions like fear and anger, so that we can improve our ability to sit with them.
Try these pranayama for stress relief during hard times, so that difficult emotions don’t completely overwhelm you when they arise.
20. Practise positive self-talk
Our thoughts and our emotions are connected, and negative thoughts can often send us into a spiral of negative emotions.
This is particularly true if we have strong beliefs about ourselves and the world that hold us back (aka limiting beliefs).
As well as utilising the body in shifting our emotional state, we can also incorporate positive self-talk in the form of affirmations or reassurance when we need an extra boost.
Over time, through neuroplasticity, these thoughts will become a more natural state and our emotions will also shift as a result.
21. Focus on somatic release
While we want to improve our capacity to sit with emotions for our emotional health, emotions are also supposed to be released.
Emotions that are “stuck” in the body are often the cause of repeated trauma loops, and one way to prevent or heal this is to kinetically (through movement) release emotions once we have felt them.
This can be in the form of dance, shaking, screaming, or anything that you feel called to.
Tune into the body and the part of yourself experiencing an emotion and ask how it wants to release it.
22. Try inner child healing
Similarly, emotions can stay prevalent when we haven’t experienced the love, care and attunement we need to release them.
One of my favourite ways to move through difficult emotions is to practise inner child healing.
This is where you connect to your inner child (where the emotion can almost always be tracked back to) and you soothe them and give them what they need to complete the emotional response.
My favourite place to find inner child meditations is Insight Timer so give them a try if this resonates with you.
I hope that this post has given you some insight into what emotional self-care means and the benefits of practising this particular type of self-care.
And that you’ve come away with some emotional self-care ideas to incorporate into your everyday life for emotional healing and ongoing support.
Remember, our mind-body-soul is all connected as one, so no aspect of self-care should be neglected if you want overall wellbeing.
So with that being said, I hope you enjoy your emotional wellness journey! Take care.
Books on emotional self care
If you want to learn even more about how to practice emotional self care, check out some of these awesome books!
Liked this post on emotional self care? Check out some of these related posts:
- 12 Spiritual Self Care Ideas for a Healthy Soul
- 52 Inclusive Self Care Ideas for Mental Health
- 59 Self Care Quotes to Inspire You to Prioritize Yourself
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