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"5 Ways to Cultivate Good Emotional Health in the Workplace"

Showing up to work each week whilst managing difficult and unexpected challenges at home or with those you love (or don't love) can very often spill out into the workplace.

If you are being triggered, even easily by someone at home or in the workplace, then it maybe time to check in with not just your mental health, but your emotional health and begin to cultivate some solid workplace practices to manage this.

Emotions are part of being human and societal conditioning has created ALOT of judgement around the showing of feelings. Even when someone is upbeat and happy there will invariably be someone who will mutter "what have they got to be happy about". For too long now the fear of not being strong enough or not up to the job when emotions such as fear, sadness or anger arise is felt. Fear and suppression are friends, they like to keep people in a place of 'stuckness', and in the work environment it is an invitation to treat other emotions to find their way out, whether exploding on someone or emotionally imploding within someone. There will always be the emotionally invincible camp, yawn, you can see that there is denial all over this camp and whether you're in it or not, if it feels time to stop fearing 'feeling the feels', then below are 5 ways to cultivate good emotional health in the workplace.

Here are 5 ways to start to cultivate good emotional health in the workplace:

  1. Make checking in with yourself throughout the day a habit. Set alarms on your phone for you to ask yourself how am I feeling. Get good or better at being with your emotions by seeing how you are doing throughout the day. Ask yourself "How am I doing?" Give yourself a 1-10 check score so you can monitor where you are, who you are speaking to and what you are doing that is making you feel or triggering emotional responses. Take the time to 'lean in' or 'be with' what you are feeling, know there is no shame about a "how am I doing" moment for yourself, think of this as you would asking a friend how they are.

  2. It's okay not to know what emotion you are feeling or even if you are feeling anything - most people have no idea about emotions. Again we are conditioned to sweep aside emotions such as anger, contempt, disgust, fear, panic, embarrassment, despair, sadness or guilt as somehow being weak and for not being to hold a lid on it. Literally humanity is emotionally shooting itself each day by avoiding feeling, it is painful, mostly challenging for many on a daily basis and at some point emotions have to come out. Begin by getting yourself a note book and either at the beginning, or the end (or both) of the day take ten minutes - and write, scribble or draw (even just emojis) down on the paper describing how you are feeling - eg happiness, anger, sadness, pride, relief, disappointment for starters... If nothing else just do this, with no expectation of anything else needing to happen. Just keep it simple.

  3. Emotions are great at making their presence known in our physical body. Our body is the best barometer of how we are feeling. We feel punched in the gut if someone has said something unkind or lost it with us or we get headaches if something is rumbling around in the background of our life not being addressed. Everything can become too much, and our throat can constrict when it feels hard to say something or speak publicly, or the chest becomes tight and breathing is shallow when we feel anxious or scared. When we are in fight, flight or freeze modes there is emotion behind it. I heard a story recently from an induction day when a member of staff was asked to intro themselves and share something about their life of interest, they were bubbly and bright until this question and then said despairingly they didn't have anything to say. When prompted by another employee to share something that they liked doing that made them smile or felt joy they claimed "that's too deep"! But at that moment they grabbed their belly - perhaps feeling their emotion there? Practice when you feel emotional about something - positive or negative and notice where in your body you hold it. Notice when it makes it's presence known to you - it's your flag to become aware and kinder to yourself until it passes or you get support.

  4. If you are going through tough times at home and feel you are just holding on at work, talk to someone you trust in your workplace. Be mindful of the mind monkeys increasing your fear of being judged if you share, which may stop you from doing this. Our minds are very adept at helping us brush emotions needing to come out under the nearest mat. There are very few people in the world now not affected by something emotional, so although you may feel you'll take the risk of bursting into tears or shouting at someone rather than have a quick informal chat, in the long run sharing with a professional, trusted colleague or friend can be the difference to your day. There is no shame showing emotion, unless we give it permission to be there. There is more shame to be had not doing anything and having to walk back into a room after having lost it.

  5. Be gentle with yourself if you are feeling emotional eg sad, angry, hurt, alienated, we are all different and no one size fits all, we all react differently which is a reason for us all to take responsibility for our own wellbeing, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. If we can all take the first step to be less fearful, and braver by starting to welcome 'emotions' into our own life, this is a start. You can begin by going easy on the words you use about yourself, stop calling yourself an 'idiot', 'stupid' and other unmentionables, much as I like a good swear we are not kind to ourselves. Stop with the words like 'should', 'need' and give yourself permission to take each day as it comes. Be gentle with yourself, if something feels like self care to you then do it, personally a good cold sea dip sorts emotions out for me. There are so many groups to join, and well worth a look here.

The most important part is for each of us to acknowledge we are all human beings getting "through this thing called life" as Prince said. You haven't been given a blue print on how to do it. You are just where you are at this present moment in time, with the experiences you have had, facing an increasingly uncertain, difficult and challenging world. It is a learning process, so try feeling how you are feeling. Get it all out in a sea dip, notebook or art or marathon...

If however you're packing your emotions away by spending a few hours suppressing them with alcohol or alcohol, drugs or sex, then start noting down what is triggering this. From the 10+ years working with relationship break ups and divorcees, one thing I know is that relationship issues with others has a direct correlation with the relationship we have with ourselves.

Working through emotions is an important key to that part of us that wants to live better, feel lighter and freer or life baggage we insist on dragging around with us, into our homes and workplaces. The sooner we learn that to truly be part of our community, and fabric of society is about embracing and being kinder to all those parts of ourselves first.

Understanding that feeling our emotions is part of daily life and the more we better understand and manage ourselves first can only result in a more harmonious lived experience with better mental health, workplace wellbeing and a happier homelife.

And finally as with everything in life there is irony. The irony with emotions is that the more time we spend being with them

the less they impact us... the kicker right!

If your organisation is interested in hosting a workshop or talk on emotional wellbeing get in touch for an informal chat via or via my website

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