Emotional hygiene helps us maintain balance, prevent afflictions from maturing, stockpiling and causing major interference. Basic routines like morning tune-in rituals, monitoring and emotional regulation micro-practices throughout the day, unwinding before sleep, — keep our emotions in check, do not let our minds wander and indulge in destructive states too much.
Morning state-of-mind check
Are we in shape for a productive day? How do we feel? It does not have to be a dedicated mindfulness session. A glimpse inside during morning coffee, headlines scrolling, a jog or a commute may help recognize destructive states early and prevent them from interfering with our day. Even if we do not have time to address it fully, the very fact of recognizing the state improves our awareness of related bias and resistance to acting on it.
Sometimes we can remember our dreams after waking up. Vividly and fully, or just partially and indistinctly. Residuals of emotions we experienced during the dream may still be with us. The opportunity here is to reach the causes of the emotions revealed by the dream “simulation”. Dream scenario may be totally unrealistic. But the emotions are ours, produced by our inclinations. It is our choice whether to let the causes remain and wait to be triggered by real-life events or address them.
Maintaining balance during the day
We monitor our state before, during and after daily interactions. Use “on-demand” micro-practices to restore our balance, like observing our breath, taking a break, mentally stepping away from a triggering context, etc.
Digital, not face-to-face communications usually provide an agreeable gap for a response we can use for brief introspection and response fine-tuning.
Unwinding before sleep
Healthy sleep rarely benefits from agitation and restless mental activity. An effort to subdue our untimely anxieties may be required before we go to bed. Sometimes, the scope of the issue may require more than one evening to tackle.
Quick-fixing sleep disorders by distracting or drugging the mind may offer temporary relief, but the effect usually wears off if the root problem is not addressed. Guided meditation mobile apps may act both ways: support emotional regulation, remind us about eco-views, or just temporarily switch our attention to soothing sounds or an attractive voice. It is worth considering not only the words of the narrative, but an implicit, actually embodied outlook inadvertently mediated by the narrator.
Emotion processing cycles
How do we fully process an unwanted emotion so it is replaced with the freedom to choose a response? Besides using an effective systems framework we are to progress over three essential stepping stones:
- Get started, “unroll the mat” (1% progress)
- Gain momentum (30% progress)
- Finalize (100% progress)
Each of these steps is required to make a lasting change to our reactions. Otherwise, the causes we left unprocessed will trigger the unwanted emotion again, continue managing our reactions, and choices.