What happens when you move somewhere new and have to re-establish your life?
Is there a way to ensure emotional health no matter where you live?
Based on my experience of living in different countries and moving in the States as well, I believe there’s areas you can focus on to create a life that is emotionally healthy.
I believe emotional health is connected to community.
I was trying to capture that when I wrote Another Campfire.
You have to have friends that are close geographically. Sometimes you have to connect with friends that don’t live close by.
You have to have a safety net. You have to have people that you see every week. You have to have people that you can call for help.
You have to be in some give and take relationships.
Corporate worship. Prayer groups. Meditation. Bible study. Inspirational songs.
The better you know yourself, the more you will know which spiritual disciplines are critical for your emotional health.
We can’t divorce our emotional health from our physical health. Diet and exercise are critical to how we’re feeling physically, and that affects how we feel emotionally.
Hundreds of books have been written on diet and exercise. That’s way beyond the scope of one blog post.
But, a commitment to improving physical health through diet and exercise will pay off dividends in improved emotional health as well.
Richard Swenson gets credit for introducing the concept of margin, but the idea is that you don’t use up all your resources, you keep some in reserve. He addresses margin in time, finances, physical and emotional resources.
You have to know your limits.
How much socializing you can handle? What do your spiritual disciplines need to be? How much music and art and creativity you need in your life?
How much exercise? How much time off from work? How much rest?
It’s really hard to find those limits at first and test those boundaries. It’s hard to know yourself.
But, it’s so important.
It’s important to know what constitutes meaningful work for you. It’s important to know your why.
It’s important to have a creative outlet, some hobbies.
You can build a life that works for you, but it does take some insight, some intentionality and some practice.
Focusing on the negative is bad for emotional health.
Structures and habits can be put in place to turn that around. I know because I’ve experienced it. What a huge difference it makes. Focusing on the white page instead of on the dark spot on the page.
In every situation, there’s something we don’t like. We miss certain foods. We miss people. We miss an identity or persona or a position that we held. We miss weather conditions. We miss living conditions. We miss luxuries. We miss access to goods or services. We can miss a whole way of life.
Also, in every situation, there are things to enjoy. The pace of life. The time for deep friendships. The fresh fruits and vegtables. The view. The pursuit of meaningful work. The anticipation of seeing people we love. A simpler life without luxuries. Not having access to goods or services.
These are the areas I’ve noticed that contribute to emotional health.
What would you add to the list?