Ten factors that contribute to emotional wellness

MSU shares 10 factors that contribute to emotional wellness and a reminder: we all have the capacity to tap our “well of being.”

Social-emotional health and wellbeing involves the social, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of people’s lives. This includes forming and maintaining satisfying and healthy relationships, taking another’s perspective, resolving interpersonal conflict, feeling capable and whole, expressing emotions, navigating stress and having a positive sense of self—including developing a healthy sense of identity related to race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disabilities, spirituality and other aspects of human differences. An important part of our social and emotional health is our capacity for emotional wellness.

According to Michigan State University’s Employee Assistance Program, emotional wellness includes the ability to navigate our moods effectively, respond to the events of life with less reactivity and upset and live with a sense of meaning and purpose as we direct our lives in accordance with our core values. Here are 10 factors that contribute to emotional wellness adapted from the work of MSU emotional wellness counselors, Lisa Laughman and Jonathon Novello:

Be here, now: Spending more time in the present moment—not the past and not the future; learning more about the benefits of practicing mindfulness to overall health and wellbeing.

Inside-out world view: Understanding that our experience of life comes largely from within us—not from the external circumstances or events in our lives.

Personal accountability: Having an inside-out world view allows us to take more responsibility for our feelings, thoughts and reactions to life’s experiences. When we’re able to notice our own habits and reactions, we are able to cause less pain to ourselves and those around us.

Accepting what is: Taking more of an objective view of what is occurring around us and accepting what is. This includes saying to ourselves, “Given that it is what it is, how do I want to respond to this situation in a way that is lined up with my values and who I want to be in the world?”

Internal balance: Organizing our lives as much as possible in ways that allow us to balance work, rest, play, healthy social relationships and other things that foster renewal for ourselves.

Respect new thinking: Staying open to new ideas, thoughts and possibilities and not being afraid of what a new insight might bring.

Appreciation of differences: Embracing and appreciating aspects of our own and others’ human differences. Stepping out of our world view and personal frame of reference and allowing our understanding of ourselves and others to be enlarged and expanded. Developing a critical consciousness and understanding the impact of differences based on race, gender, class, disabilities, spirituality and sexual orientation.

Respect for the unknown: Letting go of the need to control and to know everything we think we need to know about a situation. Respecting the unknown means that we acknowledge that in many of life’s circumstances, we can’t possibly know how things will unfold. Sometimes it’s helpful to say to ourselves, “I don’t get to know this right now.”

Connection to something greater than ourselves: Pulling back and taking a larger, more universal and expansive view of our selves can help us keep perspective about our lives and our situations.

A sense of meaning and purpose: Engaging with our communities and the larger world in ways that matter to us allows us to make contributions to people and issues that are aligned with our values and that bring meaning and purpose to our lives.

Laughman emphasizes that these and other factors help us tap our internal “well of being”—the natural, internal, innate capacity we all have for health and wellbeing that allow us to live our lives in the present moment, relaxed, reflective, solution-oriented and able to access our full range of talents, skills and abilities.

Michigan State University Extension provides resources, workshops and programs to help parents, adults and youth develop social and emotional skills and practice everyday mindfulness through programs like Stress Less with Mindfulness and Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments.

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