It’s not always easy to find emotional balance, especially when leading a busy life full of multiple responsibilities. A lack of emotional balance can manifest in different ways; for example, you might notice that you’re suppressing certain feelings, especially those that cause pain. Or you might feel like you’re being consumed by just one emotion all the time, such as feeling excessively angry for no apparent reason.
When life gets stressful, or you feel like your emotions are off-kilter, cultivating emotional balance can help keep your life on a more even keel and promote emotional well-being. Keep reading to learn some helpful tips and ideas about how you can find more emotional balance in your life.
What Is Emotional Balance?
A helpful definition of emotional balance comes from authors Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, and Gillian Coutts in their book on mindfulness, One Second Ahead. They explain that emotional balance is a “state of being aware of our emotions enough to manage them in a way that is gentle, honest, and wise.” The term emotional balance is sometimes used synonymously with emotional intelligence. According to HelpGuide, emotional intelligence means understanding and managing your emotions positively to increase empathy and reduce stress, conflicts, and miscommunications.
Why You Should Invest in Yourself
If you’re not aware of your emotions, not only can they create a state of imbalance and stress, but they can start to run your life without your conscious knowledge. You might notice decreased wellness, poor sleep, increased conflict in relationships, difficulties at work, or even burnout. And you might not be aware that it’s all caused by the insidious effects of underlying, unexpressed, or unacknowledged emotions.
If you don’t acknowledge what wants to get heard, you run the risk of walking around like a pressure cooker ready to burst. That can lead to problems that could be prevented or reduced with a bit of attention, care, mindfulness, and acceptance.
How to Cultivate Emotional Balance
Emotional balance sounds great in theory, but how can you go about maintaining it in practice? One way is to become conscious of your emotions. Many of us aren’t aware of how we’re feeling until we’re snapping at our kids or picking fights with our spouse or partner. Try to implement some of the following ideas regularly:
- Check in with yourself each day. That might mean writing down your feelings in a journal, spending some time in quiet contemplation, or talking things over with a trusted friend. Develop awareness of how you’re feeling and ask yourself if anything is bothering you or causing excessive stress
- Cut yourself some slack. Remember that balance doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. It’s okay to feel however you’re feeling at the moment. Try to practice acceptance and remind yourself that life is full of ups and downs. Despite chronic pressure from the outside world and social media to always be smiling and happy, it’s okay not to feel okay at times.
- Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to mean bubble baths and massages (although it can!), but it does mean ensuring you meet your needs and make yourself a priority. Examples of self-care can be simple actions, such as sticking to a routine, eating a healthy meal, getting enough sleep and exercise, or sticking with your medication regimen as prescribed by your doctor. Check out the free ScriptSave WellRx app for savings on medications, grocery guidance to help you make informed decisions about what you eat, and more.
- Release and process painful emotions. One of the biggest keys to maintaining balance is allowing yourself to feel painful or seemingly “unacceptable” emotions, like fear, anger, frustration, or sadness. Emotions can get stuck inside —you might be familiar with the phrase, “Your issues are in your tissues.” Find a creative, healthy way of self-expression that works for you, such as taking a kickboxing class, playing your flute in an orchestra, painting or engaging in another art form, or even allowing yourself to listen to sad songs and have a good cry.
- Know when it’s time to seek help. You don’t have to handle everything on your own. Support is available, and there’s no shame in asking for it, either. If you’re able to admit you feel overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious (or if you know something’s wrong, but you’re just not sure what), being willing to seek professional advice is a sign of strength.
Taking steps to improve your emotional balance is a process that takes commitment and patience. Maintain realistic expectations, remembering that balance involves changing what you can, accepting what you can’t, and managing the occasional ups and downs of life with equanimity. It may not happen overnight, but with dedication, you’ll soon notice the benefits of making this investment in yourself.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, and substance abuse specialist. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she continued her studies at New York University, earning a master of social work degree in 2002. She has extensive training in child and family therapy and in the identification and treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders. Currently, she is focusing on writing about mental health and addictions, drawing on her prior experiences as an employee assistance program counselor, individual and family therapist, and assistant director of a child and family services agency.