When I signed up to write a blog on emotional wellness, it was in the fall (just a few months ago), and I thought it would be a piece of cake. I was just in the process of choosing the PRA “word of the year” that characterizes 2020 for our organization. That word was resilient. And when I think about emotional wellness, I often think of it in terms of resilience. I view that being emotionally well is feeling balanced enough to deal with what is thrown your way and being able to bounce back, whether that is a personal relationship issue, a life challenge, a health event, etc. You can deal with it, level back out, and move forward, even when dealing with COVID-19 and all that has come with that challenge.

The year 2020 meant a lot of doctor visits for me…and a couple of surgeries. I’ve always felt so good about rating my emotional health when I go in for those visits. You know the list—how would you rate your pain, how would you rate your overall physical health, how would you rate your emotional health? Even if I have had to rate the others low or medium, I’ve always been able to check the excellent box for emotional health. That has felt good.

There have been a couple of times this winter that checking that box has been difficult, and I’m having one right now. My freshman year roommate from college is dying (ugh, cancer), and she recently entered a hospice facility. We got the opportunity to say our final thoughts to each other and to say thank you and goodbye this past weekend. It’s painful because I know she only has a day or two left—another one of life’s challenges. And so, I wasn’t in the mood to write this blog post because I didn’t think I was feeling emotionally well.

But then I stopped and reflected some more and realized that I am emotionally well, and I am grateful for that. Emotional wellness includes being okay with saying that you’re not okay. Not every experience will be a good one, and part of wellness (and resilience) is recognizing that and taking the steps needed to feel better. I’m emotionally well because I was able to deal. I’m emotionally well because I was able to process all these feelings and move forward. And I’m emotionally well because I’ve made the conscientious decision to stay positive.

I believe that we all need to practice gratitude in our lives for what we have and not focus on the negative. We need to strengthen our relationships and be grateful for the ones we have. I have a sense of purpose, a sense of who I am, how I can help others around me, and even in some small way, help the larger community be a better place. And if I’m able to remind myself of all that, and be resilient as I stay positive, I can still check the box and be grateful for that.