Understanding our emotions

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Emotions are a major part of human nature. They help us to understand information and teach us how to react. We start to learn about our emotions from when we are babies. When we are this young, we use facial expressions or act out the emotion such as laughter or crying. As a young child, our minds don’t really know what the emotion is or how to describe it. As we start to get older, we start to understand our emotions more and we are able to recognise the emotion we feel and put it into words. We begin to understand what we are feeling and how to react in certain situations. We start to become self-aware.

It isn’t easy becoming self-aware. Society encourages us to exercise our bodies at least 30 minutes a day, but we are never taught how to exercise our minds. We need to put the same amount of time and love into developing a healthy mind and in turn, we will have a much healthier mental outlook. Let’s look at an example of two pot plants. If you leave one by the sun and nourish it with water every day, it will grow big, beautiful flowers. If you leave the other in the dark, and neglect to water it, weeds grow and it will eventually die. Think of your mind as this pot plant in the sun. Nourish and water it and it will grow.

There are plenty of factors that can affect your mental wellbeing. There are positive impacts involving physical, social, spiritual and emotional health. Ensuring you take the time to participate in physical activity every day is very important. It can help relieve stress and encourages a positive mind. Hanging out with your friends and having some social time are a significant key to finding true happiness. Finding your spiritual happiness can mean peace and contentment of one’s self. It is the unconditional happiness to just take life as if comes even in the down times -the ability to deal with the stress of life and adapt as necessary – resilience. We can then feel as though we are doing something for the ‘greater world’, which can also lead to a sense of purpose and a sense of feeling alive. Emotional health is the overall happiness, self-awareness, resilience and self-confidence you can achieve. Just like physical health, your emotional and mental health requires effort to maintain. Or in other words, some sun and water for your pot plant.

Particularly, being happy with the way you look and your self worth plays an important role in finding inner peace and happiness. Your teenage years can somewhat be stressful, especially with all the changes your body faces. It is important to feel good and have a high self-esteem because it can affect your mental state and how you behave. The way you view your body – body image – can also effect your self-esteem. If you have a positive body image, you are more likely to have a higher self-esteem meaning you can explore other parts of being a teen much more easily like developing really strong friendships and becoming more independent of your parents. You should never change the way you look just to feel good about yourself. There is no set ‘ideal’. You need to learn to love the body you have been given. Try something like giving yourself three compliments a day! As the saying goes “real people aren’t perfect and perfect aren’t real”.

Your mental health and wellbeing is important. Society tends to place a stigma upon those who suffer with a mental illness. Mental illnesses are real and they can affect someone’s everyday life. We can all play our part in de-stigmatising the society we live in. We need to make sure to get all the facts, listen to those who are in need, becoming aware of your own feelings and thoughts and speaking out. This will help us to build a more inclusive and welcoming community. There are coping skills you can teach yourself to better deal with situations. Be kind to yourself, participate in an activity that relieves stress and make sure you take time to your self to do things like meditate or just be in your own company. It is VERY okay to reach out and ask for help because sometimes, you just can’t do it on your own. Because of this stigma, we need to take action to build better promotion to mental health, particularly as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. There are plenty of ways to get more information or to seek help.

Remember, don’t just ignore a big problem thinking it will go away. It is okay to ask for help and there are plenty of options to assist in bettering your mindset.

I want you to think of self-awareness much the same as servicing your car. When you have a car, you drive it for a few months and then you need to go and get it serviced. A team of people will check over your car and may change or replace a few parts that need replacing. Your car gets the love and attention it deserves so it can once again go back onto the road and do it’s job. We too get run down, feel a bit ‘off’ and need to be re-tuned, given some love and support before we can move forward. Seeking help during rough times is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s vital for our very survival!