Be Your Best Self

Diane Sneider
To “Be Your Best Self” and help others, we need to start with caring for ourselves. 
Some of the themes in literature related to caring for ourselves are mindfulness, resilience, gratitude and emotions. The practice of mindfulness and useful resources can be accessed in our May blog, Mindfulness. This blog will focus on emotions. Resilience and gratitude will be featured topics in future blogs.
Our emotions can and do affect our daily interactions at home and at work, our ability to accomplish our goals, our self esteem and self worth, our physical fitness and our ability to be mindful. We can be present with our family, friends, work, community and extra curricular activities if we can relax and be in the moment. According to Dr. Marc Brackett, the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a Professor in the Child Study Center of Yale University and author of Permission To Feel, “our emotions are linked to physiological reactions in our brains, releasing hormones and other powerful chemicals that, in turn, affect our physical health, which has an impact on our emotional state. It’s all connected.”  
Dr. Brackett has developed a system called RULER, a high-impact and fast-effect approach to understanding and mastering emotions.
Dr. Brackett also developed a Mood Meter. The more aware we are of our emotions, the easier it will be to interact with people, be ready for an exam, enjoy a trip, write a paper, read a book, exercise and do most activities of daily living. Below is a copy of Dr. Brackett’s Mood Meter. People should check in with their emotions many times a day, and notice how their emotions are always changing due to stress, activity, social interactions, work challenges, health concerns, dietary intake and sleep as a few examples.
Dr. Brackett explains the color codes of the Mood Meter. “Yellow is where the high-pleasantness, high-energy feeling are located. These are the emotions of joy, surprise and excitement, among many others. The red quadrant denotes unpleasant emotions that are high in energy. It's red for a reason: this is where anger, fear, and anxiety all are situated. Red also is where passion lives. Emotions in this quadrant generally make us hyper-alert, owing to our perception of opposition. Blue is the space where pleasantness and energy are both low, meaning we might be somewhere on the sadness-depression continuum. Our thinking is narrowly focused and pessimistic. We’re looking inward and focused on failure, loss, or whatever else might be causing these feelings. Green is the space where our pleasantness is high and energy is low. It’s the place on the Mood Meter where we generally feel calm or content. Our body and mind are at ease and we feel complete.”
Dr. Brackett also shares that “the difference between good stress and bad stress mainly has to do with duration and intensity.”  Our emotions can be positive or negative, obvious or masked. Building our emotional awareness helps us know and accept ourselves. It is important to ask someone how they are feeling and not assume that the expression on their face corresponds with their mood.
The article Understanding Your Emotions, published by, is a great source for explaining emotions to teens. “Emotions give us information about what we're experiencing and help us know how to react. Emotional awareness helps us know what we need and want (or don't want!). It helps us build better relationships. That's because being aware of our emotions can help us talk about feelings more clearly, avoid or resolve conflicts better, and move past difficult feelings more easily.”

Two resources shared by Sean Fargo, founder of Mindfulness Exercises, in his email newsletter that incorporate breathing and mindfulness awareness into our daily lives are:
Whole Body Breathing, a guide to integrated mindfulness.
Being Well Podcast, with Dr. Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson. According to Fargo,"Every episode is easy on the ears, practical, encouraging, and science-based. Rick and Forrest share simple exercises for 'being well' in body, heart, head and spirit. Their guests are world-class, too. Bookmark this for bite-size 'a-ha' moments of awakening."
In closing, in order to "Be Your Best Self,” check in with how you are feeling regularly and understand where you connect in your mood meter. Commit to daily practices that allow for mindfulness and breathing exercises. Activities that can also help with being present and feeling fulfilled are:  performing acts of kindness, listening or playing music, a gratitude journal, exercise such as yoga, dance, martial arts, strength training, and walking, a sleep routine that allows for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and being kind to yourself.  Being aware of your emotions and participating in mindfulness activities can reduce stress and anxiety, decrease negative thoughts, and sharpen your ability to concentrate. 

Below is a list of resources that may be helpful in your journey to “Be Your Best Self.”

In Gratitude,
Diane Sneider and The Wellness Department