Tag Archives: Mental Health

Emotional Wellness

How to improve emotional wellness

Emotional wellness involves the ability to express feelings, adjust to emotional challenges, cope with life’s stressors, and enjoy life. It includes knowing our strengths as well as what we want to get better at, and living and working on our own but letting others help us from time to time. 

Following are some questions you can ask yourself and strategies that can help you improve your emotional wellness. As you think about the questions and strategies, make a list of the things you will do and the things you may need to help achieve wellness in this area.

Questions Related to Feelings & Emotions

  • Do you allow yourself to be open to and acknowledge your feelings without judgment?
  • Have you found and developed safe relationships with people or groups where you can express your feelings and thoughts?
  • Do you see challenges as opportunities for growth?
  • Do you recognize your limitations and learn from your mistakes?
  • Are you taking responsibility for your actions?

Strategies Related to Feelings & Emotions

  • Reflect each day on your emotions, what can they teach you, and how you can express them.
  • Consider using a journal to record feelings and thoughts.
  • Develop regular habits that help you process and deal with your feelings effectively so you move forward in fulfilling your emotional needs.
  • Find a place where you feel the most comfortable and go there when you feel a need for comfort, quiet space, or safety.

Questions Related to Self-Care

  • Have you joined support groups, or thought about starting one?
  • Do you write your thoughts in a journal, listen to music, or talk to family or friends when you are
  • in need?
  • Have you tried yoga, breathing, or meditation to remain calm and centered?
  • Are you maintaining a daily routine?
  • Do you leave yourself plenty of time to get to work and other obligations?
  • Are you eating some meals without distractions, like checking your phone or watching TV?

Strategies Related to Self-Care

  • Discover what you like to do best, and do it often. It will help keep your spirits and emotions up.
  • Find an outlet for physical activity, such as a sports league or a gym/fitness center.
  • Take some time to yourself regularly.
  • Identify resources that can help you with a sleep schedule or ideas for meal planning.
  • Practice positive self-affirmations. Develop a positive statement to repeat to yourself daily. When you change your thoughts, you can change your mood and attitude.

Questions Related to Stress

  • Are you learning to manage stress in ways that work for your lifestyle?
  • Do you recognize stress triggers and appreciate that you are not your feelings? Feelings are fleeting and will pass.
  • Do you welcome and cultivate positive, empowering thoughts and emotions?

Strategies Related to Stress

  • Take a step back when in a stressful situation.
  • Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
  • Try out different coping exercises or strategies when not in a stressful situation. When challenges arise, you will be better prepared to deal with them.
  • Practice finding positives (a silver lining) in something that you feel is negative. Support others in doing this, as well.

Source: Creating A Healthier Life, A Step By Step Guide to Wellness
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) 

What is Wellness?

Wellness is a broad concept. There are many overlapping layers that affect our physical, emotional, and mental health. Behavioral health professionals recognize eight areas (or dimensions) of health. These areas are interconnected and build on one another to provide our overall sense of wellness.

Wellness is Fluid and Can Change Over Time.

We may need different levels of support in each area at different times in our lives:

  1. Emotional
  2. Spiritual
  3. Intellectual
  4. Physical
  5. Environmental
  6. Financial
  7. Occupational
  8. Social

So, what are some of the keys to improving wellness?

Find Balance

Finding balance and making sure we have time to do the things that make us feel happy is important but can also be challenging when we are faced with stress, illness, trauma, or emotional situations. In these times, our habits and routines can help us get that feeling of control back.

This means focusing on ourselves as well as the roles we play in the lives of others—like being students, friends, parents, spouses, coworkers, congregants, hobbyists, community members, and citizens.

Our roles and relationships help define who we are, what gives us a sense of purpose, and how our lives are interdependent on other people, animals, and the environment. Being engaged in life and relationships provides a measure of balance and overall wellness.

Embrace support from others

Talking with someone who has been through similar things—whether it is a mental health issue, addiction, trauma, pain issues, smoking, diabetes, bullying, or abuse—makes us feel less alone. When we realize others have had similar feelings and experiences and have been able to move forward and grow, it can give us the confidence to move forward, too.
With a support group, we can expect:

  • Supportive input from people with a range of backgrounds who have experiences similar to ours
  • A chance to support others by our presence, compassion, our ideas, and empathy
  • People who can suggest services or resources we might not have considered.
  • We can find supportive people in many places—a community or church/synagogue/mosque/temple group, at work, or through volunteering efforts, to name a few.

Value Healthy Routines and Habits

Routines and habits are often developed based on basic needs such as nutrition/food, shelter, social affiliation, and safety or our role as parent, student, coworker, or community member. Our habits affect what we eat, what we wear, how we relate to others, how we go to work, how we spend or save money, and more.

Healthy habits can be very useful in helping us maintain balance but, unhealthy habits are often hard to change. For example, we might put ourselves down or feel we need a particular thing or person to get us through a tough spot. Life comes with stress, crisis, or trauma that can impact or alter our routines and habits. This can lead to emotional (anxiety, depression), social (cranky, isolated, angry), or physical (tired, agitated) imbalances.

The good news is that habits can be changed! Establishing new habits that support our wellness goals and values can be challenging, but worth it. Developing healthier routines and habits in our lives can lead to positive feelings (emotional), relationship satisfaction (social), increased energy (physical), inspiration (emotional), and a feeling that we are using our creative talents, skills, and abilities to engage in activities (occupational, intellectual, spiritual).

Create and Prioritize Healthy Habits

Identifying and prioritizing regular practices that make us feel better, such as mindfulness exercises, meditation or yoga, or calls to friends, is a first step. Another aproach is to think about steps you can take to avoid habits that aren’t as healthy or create stress like avoiding the news at night, or spending less time online. You can also ask someone and think together about what makes sense and what next steps might work best.

Here are Some Ideas to Consider:

  • Being active in activities that have purpose. If our daily routine lacks meaning, we can feel
    distressed or powerless.
  • Increasing activities that contribute to our wellness. Talking with a friend at the start of the day may
    help set a good intention or plan for the day.
  • Getting a good night’s rest. Insomnia can noticeably impact social relationships, physical and
    emotional reactions, productivity, and our ability to concentrate and accomplish tasks.
  • Being aware of the right amount of social interaction. It’s important to know our limits.
  • Remembering that time zone changes or daylight saving time can impact our mood and our
    routines; readjusting is normal.
  • Using a routine that works for us. Calendars help us remember when or how often we want to get
    things done, such as get an oil change, clean the refrigerator, celebrate an accomplishment, call a
    friend or family member, check our financial records, and schedule an annual physical.
  • Repeating a behavior until it becomes automatic, such as taking medication.
  • Checklists help us make sure that important tasks are not being forgotten.
  • Creating a wellness lifestyle can be challenging, but finding the right information, supports, and
    resources and tracking our progress can help us get there.

Source: Creating A Healthier Life, A Step By Step Guide to Wellness Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) www.samhsa.gov

Self-Care at Work

Did you know? On average, a person spends more than one-third of their day, 5 days a week, at work!

Self-care is important to weave throughout the day, including at work. Take a little time throughout the day to prioritize yourself.

It can:

  • Help reduce stress
  • Prevent chronic disease
  • Help you maintain a healthy lifestyle

The National Wellness Institute promotes Six Dimensions of Wellness. These dimensions are interconnected and focusing on all areas of wellness can help us achieve our full potential.

Prioritize Worksite Wellness 

Try these ideas to boost your wellness level for each dimension:

Emotional & Mental Well-Being


Get in the zone with a positive state of mind. 

The emotional health dimension means you’re feeling good in your mind and your body. You feel safe and able to cope, with a sense of connection with people and your community.

Try this: 

  • Ask for help
  • Practice deep breathing for at least 5 minutes each day
  • Keep a daily gratitude journal

Intellectual Well-Being


Your mind needs exercise, too! Flex your brain.

The intellectual dimension recognizes the need to expand your knowledge, skills, and creative abilities.

Try this:

  • Boost learning and read or listen to a podcast
  • Enhance productivity and write a daily to-do list 
  • Organize your workspace
  • Complete a task you have been putting off

Physical Well-Being


Healthy lifestyle helps balance body, mind, and spirit.

The physical dimension includes lifestyle and behavior choices to ensure health, avoid preventable diseases, and to live in a balanced state of body, mind, and spirit.

Try this:

  • Take an activity break every hour and go for a walk, stretch, or take the stairs
  • Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water
  • Pack a healthy lunch that includes ½ cup fruit and ½ cup vegetables

Social Well-Being


It feels good to contribute and belong.

The social dimension encourages building connections to your environment and community, and helping out in society.

Try this:

  • Make time to meet a new person at the workplace
  • Attend workplace social events and connect with colleagues
  • Do something nice for a coworker such as sharing your appreciation for them

Financial Well-Being


Tackle financial stress by taking responsible steps toward future goals.

The financial dimension helps make sure that you can meet your current and ongoing financial obligations. It ensures that you’re secure in your financial future and are able to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Try this:

  • Track daily spending
  • Plan for retirement by exploring investment and savings opportunities

Resources that Support Self-Care




  • HealthySD – Provides information, inspiration, and tips on nutrition, physical activity, and health and wellness for all South Dakotans.
  • SDSU Extension Access SDSU Extension’s team of nutritionists and dietitians to learn about healthy and balanced nutrition, as well as programs and resources to help support good nutrition.
  • Better Choices, Better Health Offers chronic disease self-management education workshops that are designed to help adults living with ongoing physical and/or mental health conditions and caregivers understand how healthier choices can improve quality of life, boost self-confidence, and inspire positive lifestyle changes
  • 211 Helpline Center, Community Resources Volunteer or find help with food, clothing, shelter, education, employment, transportation, healthcare, mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse, support groups or legal assistance. 
  • American Heart Association – Recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Find out how to keep your heart healthy and stay hydrated.


  • National Institutes of Health – Provides a Social Wellness Toolkit outlining six strategies for improving your social health in English & Spanish. 
  • 211 Helpline Center, Community Resources Volunteer or find help with food, clothing, shelter, education, employment, transportation, healthcare, mental health, suicide prevention, substance abuse, support groups or legal assistance.


Download and share the self-care at work infographic that outlines helpful tips on how to prioritize self-care at work:


For more information about Worksite Wellness initiatives in South Dakota, contact us.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Workplace Health Model
  2. National Wellness Institute, The Six Dimensions of Wellness

Healthy Sleep

Think of your daily activities. Which activity is so important you should devote one-third of your time to doing it? Probably the first things that come to mind are working, spending time with your family, or doing leisure activities. But there’s something else you should be doing – sleeping. Many people view sleep as merely “down time” when their brains shut off and their bodies rest.

In actuality, while you sleep your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. Despite growing support for the idea that adequate sleep, like adequate nutrition and physical activity, is vital to our well-being, people are sleeping less. The nonstop “24/7” nature of the world today encourages longer or nighttime work hours and offers continual access to entertainment and other activities. To keep up, people cut back on sleep.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep (such as less than 6 hours a night) with no adverse effects. However, research suggests that adults need at least 7–8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections. Children and adolescents’ are also not sleeping enough which has been linked to increased exposure to electronic media. Lack of sleep may have a direct effect on children’s health, behavior, and development.

People may cut back on sleep, thinking it won’t be a problem, because other responsibilities seem much more important. But research shows that a number of aspects of your health and quality of life are linked to sleep, and these aspects are impaired when you are sleep deprived.

1. Your Learning, Memory, and Mood

Students who have trouble grasping new information or learning new skills are often advised to “sleep on it,” and that advice seems well founded. People can learn a task better if they are well rested and may better remember what they learned. Other studies suggest that it’s important to get enough rest the night before a mentally challenging task, rather than only sleeping for a short period or waiting to sleep until after the task is complete.

Exactly what happens during sleep to improve our learning, memory, and insight isn’t known. We suspect that while people sleep they form or strengthen the pathways of brain cells needed to perform these tasks. This process may explain why sleep is needed for proper brain development in infants.

Lack of sleep makes it harder to focus and pay attention and can make you more easily confused. Lack of sleep leads to faulty decision making, more risk taking, and slows down your reaction time, which is particularly important to driving and other tasks that require quick response. When people who lack sleep are tested on a driving simulator, they perform just as poorly as people who are drunk. The bottom line is: not getting a good night’s sleep can be dangerous!

2. Your Heart

Sleep gives your heart and vascular system a much-needed rest. During non-REM sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure progressively slow as you enter deeper sleep. During REM sleep, in response to dreams, your heart and breathing rates can rise and fall and your blood pressure can be variable. These changes throughout the night in blood pressure and heart and breathing rates seem to promote cardiovascular health.

If you don’t get enough sleep, the nightly dip in blood pressure that appears to be important for good cardiovascular health may not occur. Some sleep related abnormalities may also be markers of heart disease and increased risk of stroke. A lack of sleep puts your body under stress and may trigger the release of stress hormones during the day. These hormones keep your blood pressure from dipping during sleep, which increases your risk for heart disease.

3. Your Hormones

When you were young, your mother may have told you that you need to get enough sleep to grow strong and tall. She may have been right! Deep sleep (stage 3 non-REM sleep) contributes to growth in children and boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults. Sleep’s effect on the release of sex hormones also contributes to puberty and fertility. Consequently, women who work at night and tend to lack sleep may be at increased risk of miscarriage.

Your mother was also probably right if she told you that getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis would help keep you from getting sick and help you get better if you do get sick. Lack of sleep can reduce your body’s ability to fight off common infections.

Although lack of exercise and other factors also contribute, the current epidemic of diabetes and obesity seems to be related, at least in part, to chronically short or disrupted sleep or not sleeping during the night. Evidence is growing that sleep is a powerful regulator of appetite, energy use, and weight control. The less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese and prefer eating foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates.

Signs that your sleep is on track:

Here are some statements about sleep. If these apply to you, it’s a good sign that your sleep is on track.

  • You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
  • You regularly sleep a total of 7-9 hours in a 24-hour period.
  • While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
  • You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
  • You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
  • Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.

Shift workers who try to sleep during the day often wake up after fewer than 7-9 hours, because of the alerting signals coming from their circadian system. This does not mean they don’t need 7-8 hours of sleep per day—it just means it’s harder to sleep during the day. Over time, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Click here to learn more about what makes you sleep, how much is enough, what disrupts sleep, and common sleep disorders.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation & National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute