Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.
Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to manage their negative feelings.
They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor.
Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health and be happier.
Ever felt so down you couldn’t concentrate in school or enjoy social activities with your friends? If so, you are not alone. In a recent survey, half of all college students said they had been so stressed that they couldn’t get their work done or enjoy social activities during the last semester. But all of us have the power to take control of our emotional health in order to improve our moods and get the most out of life.
Taking control of your emotional health involves realizing that choices you make about sleep, diet, and exercise can have a direct impact on your emotions and state of mind. It also means being proactive when you are concerned about your thoughts or feelings.
When unaddressed, mental health problems like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and addiction can make it hard to do well or feel good. The good news is that these problems are treatable and getting help is the first step towards feeling better and moving forward.
Path to improved wellbeing Emotional health is an important part of your life. It allows you to realize your full potential. You can work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society.
Depression, anxiety, stress, poor body image, grief, loss, a major change in your life such as becoming a new parent can all affect your mental and emotional health and day to day living. Sometimes it is hard to know if what you are experiencing is depression or sadness, worry or anxiety. Sadness and anxiety are normal emotions that help alert us to, protect us from, and cause us to act. This is healthy!
What is unhealthy is when these feelings become excessive, irrational, ongoing, distressing or interfere with daily life. Depression, anxiety, stress, grief can be managed using interventions and strategies such as cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation, mindfulness, and ‘talk’ therapy.
If you are aware you are not functioning as you normally do, you know something is worrying you, this is the time to learn more about what is happening to you and perhaps seek help.
Watch the webinar below and learn more about your mental health and ways to build confidence. The webinar is presented by Jean Hailes psychologist Dr. Mandy Deeks.
It also affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight
There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.
- Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
- Express your feelings in inappropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
- Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
- Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
- Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
- Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers.
- Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what it is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.
- Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes, and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.
How to Build Good Emotional Health
For starters, it’s not the same thing as mental health. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, emotional health “focuses on being in tune with our emotions, vulnerability, and authenticity,” says licensed psychologist Juli Fraga, PsyD.
Having good emotional health is a fundamental aspect of fostering resilience, self-awareness, and overall contentment.
Keep in mind that having good emotional health doesn’t mean you’re always happy or free from negative emotions. It’s about having the skills and resources to manage the ups and downs of day-to-day life.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are some common signs that a friend needs help dealing with emotional issues or a mental health problem:
- Depression or apathy that interferes with obligations or participating in social activities
- Lack of coping skills around day-to-day problems or extreme reactions to certain situations
- Extreme highs referred to as mania that may include rushed thoughts, bursts of energy, sleeplessness and compulsive behavior (like excessive spending or promiscuous sexual behavior)
- Severe anxiety or stress
- Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Increased or regular use of alcohol or drugs
The key to taking control of your emotional health is to listen to your body and understand its needs. Make sure to get plenty of sleep. Stay active. Research has shown that people dealing with mild to moderate depression have experienced up to a 50 percent reduction in symptoms after exercising on a regular basis.
Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid stressful situations whenever possible and make sure you have the right tools to deal with the situations you can’t avoid. Know your limits when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Above all else, it’s important to speak up and get things checked out if you are concerned about your thoughts, feelings or behavior.
Please be sure to select your school above so we can provide you with information about resources and help on or near your campus.
Emotional Health Conditions
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
Emotional Health Basics
Understanding emotional health means paying attention to your overall happiness and well-being. Being emotionally healthy also involves maintaining control of your thoughts and feelings.
People with good emotional health are resilient in the face of challenges, find ways to express their creativity and understand the importance of social connections. They also recognize the power of spirituality and the value of staying positive.
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How does it look in action?
Here’s a look at some common examples of good emotional health and the impact it can have.
1. Noticing upsetting emotions when they arise
This enables you to name them and process them in healthy ways. For example, you might choose to compassionately confront someone who hurt or angered you rather than lash out at them. Or maybe you opt to set some healthy boundaries at work or with loved ones.
2. Catching your own self-judgments
According to Fraga, this means turning that critical inner voice into an opportunity for self-love and compassion.
For example, when you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, you might ask:
- “If my child, partner, or best friend were talking to me this way, how would I respond?”
- “What makes it challenging for me to treat myself the same way I treat others?”
Emotional health flourishes when you’re curious about your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings and why they might arise at certain times, says Fraga.
It’s important to be able to ask yourself, “Why do I react this way?” or “What is it about my past that might lead me to have a strong reaction to x, y, and z?”
Why Is It So Important?
Working on our emotional health is just as important as taking care of our physical well-being.
And that work pays off with:
- Resilience to stress. Research Trusted Source shows that emotional distress makes you more vulnerable to physical illness by impacting your immune system.
- Deeper relationships. When you’re equipped with the skills to manage your emotions, it’s easier for you to connect with others and show more empathy and compassion. You’re also better able to hold arguments and talk through your feelings.
- Higher self-esteem. Your thoughts, feelings, and experiences influence the way you feel about yourself. Good emotional health helps you see the best in yourself despite challenges.
- More energy. Having a positive outlook makes you feel more energized and helps you focus and think more clearly, whereas poor emotional health depletes your mental resources and leads to exhaustion.
How Can I Improve My Emotional Health?
Emotional health is more of a process than a goal. And chances are you’re already doing some things that help strengthen your emotional health.
As you go through these tips, remember that emotional health isn’t about always being in a good mood. It’s about equipping yourself to deal with the good, the bad, and everything in between.
1. Practice emotional regulation
Emotions can and sometimes will get the best of you, but learning coping strategies to temper them can help you respond instead of reacting to upsetting situations, Fraga advises.
Coping strategies can include:
- listening to music
- talking to a therapist
If you’re overwhelmed with stress at work or at home, getting regular exercise can feel impossible. But taking the time for physical activity can nourish both your emotional and your physical health, says Fraga.
Aim to set aside 30 minutes a day for some kind of physical activity. If you’re short on time, find 10- or 15-minute chunks of time to go for a quick walk.
3. Strengthen social connections
Your links to others can have powerful effects on your emotional and physical health. Staying connected with loved ones can provide a buffer when you’re going through challenges,
Foster these connections by spending time with close friends and family, either in person or over the phone.
4. Be mindful
A growing body of research links mindfulness with less emotional reactivity and greater relationship satisfaction.
Mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on one thing at a time, trying a social media detox, or turning household tasks into a mental break. The point is to be consistent with your mindfulness practice and dedicate even just a few minutes to something you enjoy.
5. Get quality sleep
Sacrificing sleep makes you more vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
One 2018 study found that being sleep-deprived leads to more repetitive negative thoughts. Being overly tired can make you more emotionally reactive. That emotional reactivity can negatively affect your outlook, performance, and relationships.
Make sure you’re being consistent with your sleep and waking times as well as optimizing your bedroom environment so that you’re getting enough rest.
Nurture Your Emotional Health
While we are often very focused on our physical health, taking care of our emotional health is just as important. If you’ve been neglecting your emotional health, no need to fret. In this article, we’ll share 6 ways you can nurture it for a healthier and happier life.
First off, what is emotional health?
Understanding emotional health is key to learning how to nurture it. Emotional health is all about how we think, feel and behave. People who are emotionally healthy are usually able to monitor and adjust their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
However, being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It’s about being mindful of your emotions and learning to manage them, whether they’re positive or negative.
Why is it important to take care of your emotional health?
Research shows that if your emotional health suffers, so will your physical health. People with good emotional health are able to find a balance in their life between leisure, activity, and work. Our emotional health and well-being is an often overlooked but very important aspect of our overall health.
According to the American Psychological Association, when people are happy, they are more likely to work towards their goals. Plus, they tend to connect with others who have similar energy and optimism.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), higher levels of well-being are linked to lower risk of disease, illness and injury, speedier recoveries, a better-functioning immune system, longer life and more productivity at work.
How to incorporate preventive care into your daily routine
Every day we incorporate preventive care into our routine to improve our physical health. We try to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals and take the necessary steps to ensure our bodies remain physically fit. But we forget to apply these same methods when it comes to taking care of our emotional health. Being aware of your emotions and reactions, and trying to understand them, is an important piece.
One way to do this is by creating a daily habit of tracking your thoughts. For example, you might create a list and start to categorize the causes of sadness, frustration, anger or other emotions in your life. Doing this can help you understand and manage thoughts that surface throughout the day. You can also make this process a little easier by anchoring this new practice with an old habit — like mentally tracking your thoughts while cooking dinner or on your daily run.
6 ways to nurture your emotional health
1. Connect with your support network
Studies show that having a strong social connection — carving out time to connect with positive, loving people you care about — can provide a much more meaningful life. If you don’t have a strong social network in place, there are a number of ways to go about making new friends.
You can volunteer at a local charity, join a class you find interesting, or even spend more time with a co-worker or neighbor you only know a little. If you struggle to make new friends, you can work with an emotional health coach to learn how to build yourself up and overcome this fear.
Some people do best with a large support group, while others need a small support system. You could try both ways to find out which works best for you.
2. Learn how to deal with stress
When you are stressed, your body produces certain hormones to help you cope. But when too many of these hormones are produced over a long period of time, the hormones can wear down your body and mind.
Determine the root cause of your stress and try to eliminate it. If there is a certain environment causing your stress, consider leaving this space for a while.
If it’s your job, consider a career change or taking an extended leave. Or, you could try smaller changes like incorporating deep breathing, meditation and exercise to help you cope with stress.
3. Take care of your body
Our physical and emotional well-being is connected and one affects the other. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising is just as important for our physical health as for our emotional health. For example, by avoiding or replacing junk food with healthier options, like fresh fruits and vegetables, you give your brain the fuel it needs to stay healthy and alert.
High-quality foods, loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, help nourish the brain and create hormones associated with good emotional health. While processed and refined foods make it harder for your body to produce insulin, fight inflammation, and overall can have a negative impact on how you feel.
4. Spend quality time with yourself
Some people find it difficult to spend quality time with themselves, but doing so is important for emotional well-being. Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, recommends spending more time with yourself because it “has been linked to increased happiness, greater life satisfaction, and improved stress management.”
You can start by engaging in your favorite hobbies or even picking up a new one. Journaling daily can also help. Writing your thoughts and emotions can make it easier to manage them. If you are not a fan of writing, begin each day talking to yourself.
Sometimes doing this usually results in negative self-talk at first. We find ourselves making declarations like “I can’t do it!” or “I’ll never be able to go through this!” When this happens don’t try to block out that particular train of thought.
Instead, take a moment to intentionally counteract each negative thought with positive truths in your life. This simple exercise helps you to discover the hidden hope, and joy in any given situation.
5. Get help when you need it
If you’re looking for additional support when it comes to managing stress, boosting your confidence, or finding a sense of purpose, it may be time to connect with someone and get help. Working with an emotional health coach or licensed therapist might be that necessary and life-changing next step.
Plus, all health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act are required to offer “essential health benefits” which includes seeing a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.
This person can help you create a detailed plan around the topic you’re struggling with, set actionable goals, and ultimately help you improve your emotional well-being.
6. Create a balance between work, rest and play
Life is all about balance. Creating a work-life balance is very important for your emotional well-being. It’s necessary to create time to recharge, spend time with family, exercise, and take care of yourself so that you can go into work feeling energized and motivated.
Going on vacation, avoiding work calls while at home and getting enough sleep every night are some great examples to help you maintain a good work-life balance.
Your emotional health affects every aspect of your daily life. So if taking care of your emotional health has been an overlooked aspect of your general healthcare, then it’s time to make a change. Applying these 6 tips to your daily life is a great way to get started.
Things To Consider
People who have good emotional health can still have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause. This could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can trigger mental illness or make it worse.
Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.