by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.
Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness
Living in a society with biases and prejudices can have a profound impact on our emotional wellness, particularly when it comes to acceptance based on gender or cultural identity. For people who identify as LGBTQ+ or belong to a marginalized cultural group, the struggle for societal acceptance can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety (Meyer, 2003).
However, it's crucial to remember that emotional wellness is not reliant on external factors. This National Center post provides practical strategies to foster emotional wellness—empowering people to find strength within themselves.
First, it's essential to cultivate self-compassion (Neff, 2003). Recognize that the challenges faced due to societal biases are not a reflection of your worth or identity. Practice self-acceptance and treat yourself with kindness. Embrace the unique aspects of your identity and celebrate the diversity you bring to the world.
Building strong social support networks is another important component of emotional wellness (Sarason et al., 1990). Seek out communities and organizations that provide safe spaces for people who share similar experiences. Connect with LGBTQ+ support groups, cultural associations, or online communities that can provide companionship, understanding, and acceptance. Engaging with supportive individuals who validate your identity can significantly enhance your emotional well-being.
Additionally, establishing a sense of purpose and meaning can bolster emotional wellness (Telles et al., 2019). Identify your passions, values, and interests, and find ways to incorporate them into your life. Engage in activities or hobbies that align with your mission, whether that be advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, volunteering in your community, or pursuing a fulfilling career. By living in alignment with your "ideal self," you are more likely to experience a sense of fulfillment and overall well-being.
Taking care of your mental and physical health is crucial for emotional wellness (Hammen, 2018). Engage in regular exercise, incorporate relaxation techniques, and ensure you are getting sufficient sleep. Healthy lifestyle practices contribute to overall well-being and can assist in managing stress and negative emotions. Additionally, consider mindfulness practices such as meditation or journaling to help you cultivate self-awareness and a greater sense of calmness (Hofmann et al., 2010).
Seeking professional help can also be very beneficial for emotional wellness. A counselor or therapist can provide a safe space for people to explore their feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and process the challenges they face (Chin et al., 2020).
While societal biases and prejudices can pose significant challenges to emotional wellness, it's crucial to empower yourself by nurturing your sense of worth and identity. By implementing practical strategies such as self-compassion, building social support networks, pursuing a sense of purpose, prioritizing mental and physical health, and seeking professional help, we can foster emotional wellness.