Emotional well-being is the partner to diabetes knowledge and self-care skill that can lead to a successful life, despite having a chronic illness.
In this series of expert articles, you will discover the skills and building blocks of emotional well-being. The skills of emotional well-being will fuel the reason why you want to take good care of yourself and your diabetes.
Let’s be honest: having to manage diabetes, all day everyday, can be a real burden. Most are willing to do it for something that is important to them or something they value deeply. Let me explain. Diabetes is a demanding disease. It requires daily testing, adjusting and living with the unexpected changes that come with living a life. In many ways, it is a great teacher of life’s reality – the unexpected is expected, change is inevitable and dealing with setbacks is the secret to a fulfilling life. So what does that have to do with emotional well-being?
What is emotional well-being?
Emotional well-being has been described as a basket of components that include life satisfaction, positive emotions and life purpose. We could spend many pages writing about each of these components, but at the heart of them is one concept: we are living for something we value that we want to preserve and express in our daily life. We want fulfilling relationships with others, we want to be involved in work that is meaningful and we want to believe that there is more to this world than our problems. Emotional well-being is something we work towards because it provides us with meaning and purpose, as well as positive emotions.
So, while having to take care of diabetes is a big responsibility, when people are willing to do so for something important to them, by developing the skill of emotional well-being – that ‘willing to’ will be there every day. We want to experience our lives as satisfying. If we delve a little deeper, it doesn’t come from doing fun things or achieving success but from one’s evaluation of one’s life journey. In working with people who are struggling with diabetes distress, my goal is to help them develop the skills of resiliency and the ability to cope better with the demands of living with diabetes. By being more resilient, we are left with more energy to enjoy life. Luckily, in many instances, the same skills that allow one to take better care of diabetes are the same ones that lead to living a more fulfilling life.
Learning emotional well-being skills
Your emotional well-being is as important as your physical well-being when it comes to effective management of your diabetes and, like physical fitness, emotional well-being is a skill we can work on improving.
Let’s begin by defining some of the skills that can lead to a sense of emotional well-being and improve our willingness to do self-care. For me, there are three building blocks of emotional well-being:
- An optimistic way of assessing one’s life. The human brain is negatively biased. We are constantly looking out for danger. To have emotional well-being, we need to develop a more optimistic, hopeful view of life.
- A deep sense of purpose and meaning. We can spend most of our life simply doing tasks or checking off the success boxes determined by the world around us. Unfortunately, this approach does not lead to emotional well-being. What does lead to well-being is a sense of contribution beyond one’s own self.
- Living more often with positive emotions. This is the toughest of the bunch because a percentage of our positive emotions are simply genetically programmed. About 35% to 50% of our positive emotional nature is simply what we are born with. That leaves just more than one-half in your control.
As we add to our series of emotional well-being articles, we will expand and add to these three building blocks of emotional well-being with exercises, tips and tools.
In my experience, with an optimistic view of life, a sense of purpose and a shift to positive emotions, you will be more able to live the fullest life possible!