Emotional health is a huge part of achieving overall mental health. Emotional health is kind of like the first “layer” of psychological health. Meaning that it’s not as deep and complex as other aspects of mental health but it’s still very important.
What is Emotional Health
Emotional health relates to how you handle your emotions – both positive and negative. A person with good emotional health is someone who is aware and can control their emotions.
This does not mean that they don’t experience or allow negative emotions. They simply are able to cope with the various things life throws at them in a healthy way.
For example, someone with good emotional health might have something negative happen in their life.
They will feel anger and sadness but overall they know that those feelings will pass and they are able to manage their emotions in a healthy way.
It’s not that they “brush it under the rug” either. They are able to lean into negative emotions just as they would with positive ones and exit the situation in a healthy state of mind.
It’s important to note that someone with good emotional health can still have other mental health issues.
Mental health as a whole is not a “one-size fits all” scenario at all. It’s important to be aware that just because someone is emotionally healthy, does not mean they aren’t struggling with something deeper.
Many mental health disorders and personality disorders are underlying issues that individuals may not be aware of.
How to Achieve Emotional Health
There are several things you can do to achieve emotional wellness or just improve it in general. Being emotionally well really comes down to knowing yourself and being proactive to achieve it.
Here are some things you can do to work on your emotional health…
Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment. It’s often hard to leave feelings of overwhelm behind and focus on what’s happening right now.
To start this, allow yourself to sit still (or go for a walk) and just think about what is happening in those present moments.
Your breathing, what the weather is like, how you’re feeling. Try to cut out the worries and thoughts of “what if”.
Acknowledge that you’re alive and be grateful for the amazing journey you’re on.
Think about all the amazing people and experiences in your life. If you’re stressed about something, ask yourself “how is this affecting me right now, in this current moment?”.
Sometimes the answer is, it’s not.
You’re out for a walk or sitting somewhere and nothing is physically affecting you in this moment.
You’re peaceful and alone. It’s your own thoughts about what you’re experiencing that seem to hang over your head causing stress.
It’s not physically hurting you at any given moment (unless you’re so stressed that you’re having headaches in which case you may want to visit your primary care physician).
Working on changing your thoughts around the thing that’s stressing you out is not easy but so worth it!
Let’s say you’re stressed about money. You feel like you don’t make enough and you always have bills.
You’re stressed that you won’t have enough or you have enough but it always seems like you barely make it by.
Instead of giving that stress all the power by thinking things like “I’m so stressed because I never have enough money” try thinking something like “I always have enough money for the things that I need and more money is always coming to me”.
At first it might feel ridiculous, but keep working on the way you think about the stressors in your life.
Stress is tricky because it’s something that can be controlled by you but it sure doesn’t seem like it at first.
When you rewrite the stressful narrative in your mind, you can begin to find answers to actually change the stressful situation.
This is because you’re no longer telling yourself there is nothing you can do and it’s just the way it is.
As we talked about before, your mind is always trying to find an answer for you.
You just have to learn to ask the right questions and you do this by rewriting the thoughts you have around your situation.
Start Observing Your Emotions
Understanding how you feel about things that happen to you is easier said than done.
Especially when it’s a negative emotion. If there is something that always seems to make you upset, try observing why that is.
The next time it happens, ask yourself why you the way you do. Don’t try to stop your emotions, just observe them. You’re upset and there’s a reason.
It’s not a bad thing that you feel the way you do.
Observing your emotions intentionally this way not only helps you understand why you feel what you do, but it helps separate you from what’s happening because you’re focused on your role as the observer.
This will help you gain a less biased view of the situation.
The same goes for happy situations. If you understand what brings you joy and why, you can create more of that in your life.
This leads into intentional living which is a great way to get to know yourself too!
Establish Meaningful Relationships
When you have meaningful relationships in your life (even just one or two), you have a stronger sense of purpose.
Having extra support from loved ones is an important part of maintaining emotional health.
Not only that but deep relationships are a great way to relieve stress and ease mild anxiety and depression symptoms.
While this does not cure anxiety and depression, it can help avoid it before it develops or bring you support when experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
The mutual support and love that you get with valuable relationships will also bring you a stronger sense of self-worth.
When you have amazing people in your life, it helps you focus on what is important which in turn helps maintain your emotional health.
Be Mindful of Your Stress Levels
Unfortunately, stress is a typical part of most people’s lives.
While stress may ultimately be unavoidable, there are some things you can do to prevent stress.
The less stress you experience, the better your emotional health will be. The same goes for how you manage yourself when you are experiencing stress.
If you have healthy practices for dealing with stress, you’ll be able to bounce back faster and have a better mindset while doing that. Here are a few things you can do to prevent stress…
- Get more sleep
As busy adults we know this is easier said than done. In order to get more sleep you may have to prioritize it.
Move things around in your schedule and go to bed an hour earlier, say no to plans, take a day off and sleep in. Whatever you have to do, prioritize getting more sleep.
If sleep feels like it has become a luxury to you, this is especially important.
- Create a bedtime routine
Aside from getting more sleep, the way you end your day is also important. Avoid caffeine and alcohol several hours before bed.
You can also end screen time an hour before bed to let your mind quiet down.
A few great activities you could do during this time are…
– Work on a puzzle
– Go for a slow, relaxing walk
– Have some bedtime tea and sit outside
- Listen to relaxing music
Make some time to relax with music and do nothing else.
Put your phone on silent, keep the TV off and just relax with soothing music. Just 10-30 of this can help maintain your stress levels.
The more often you can do this the better. Making the time to do activities like this just for yourself gives you a sense of control that can also help with feeling overwhelmed.
- Try Therapy
Talking to a therapist can help you pinpoint areas of stress that you may not be aware of.
Talking to a professional about the stressful situations in your life will also help you get control and make a plan of how to deal with it.
Aside from avoiding or easing stress, exercise is important for avoiding mental breakdowns.
Keeping a healthy body is key for a healthy mind. If you don’t want to get a gym membership, buy some home workout equipment and/or start going for regular runs.
You could also just walk more. Anything you do to move your body will help!
Think about the tension behind your feelings and express yourself in a healthy way. It’s important to feel free to express yourself.
Bottling problems or any type of feeling up is never good for your emotional health.
Doing artistic activities, exercise and therapy are great outlets where you can express yourself in a healthy way.
Turning to drugs or alcohol will only make the issues worse and you could develop more complex mental health issues as a result.
Be More Self-Conscious
Self-consciousness is usually referred to when talking about insecurities or when someone is extremely shy.
In this case, being more self-conscious means to think about your thoughts and feelings in a way that works for you.
On the same note, being more self-aware should involve understanding your passion or purpose. When you figure out what these are for you, you get a sense of belonging, fulfillment and validation.
This not only gives you something positive to focus on, but it helps enlighten other areas of your life.
You may even experience less stress due to a sense of belonging and the security that provides.
If you’re not someone who has always known their purpose, finding your passion/purpose in life requires a lot of internal work.
Personally, I didn’t know that I was so passionate about mental health until a couple years ago.
Experiencing a few traumatic and complex things in my own life brought it out and I knew I wanted to understand it more and help others.
Sometimes you have to experience a variety of things before your passion shows itself and that’s perfectly okay.
If you want to find yours and have no clue where to start, meditation can help.
When you rest and clear your mind, you’ll find answers to things you’ve been struggling with.
Your brain is always trying to work in favor of you so ask yourself a specific question and let it “marinate”.
This could be a question like “what am I passionate about?” or “what is my purpose in life?”.
Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a responsibility to your own well-being! Start making your self-care a priority with these simple ideas today!
Click on the image to grab your FREE printable now!
Those may seem like huge, daunting questions, but your brain will get to work and help you dig deep into places you may not have been aware of before.
It’s important to meditate on this often. Consistency is key when you’re doing this kind of thought work.
If still meditation seems too hard at first, start by going for a walk.
Unplug and put your phone on silent and just be alone with your thoughts and relax your mind.
Personally, I’ve had the biggest mental breakthroughs on the little walks I go on. The whole point of mediation is to quiet your mind to the point where you can connect with the tiny little voice that has all the answers.
It’s a process and you’ll probably unearth other issues along the way but that’s all a part of your own amazing mental/emotional health journey.
It’s kind of addicting (in a good way) too. Like the people you see in the gym all the time.
Once you start working on yourself mentally/emotionally and get to know yourself better, it’s so much fun to see the amazing results you’ll get.
It’s important for you not to overthink everything while you’re on your ongoing emotional health journey.
It can be easy to get too “in your head” about the way you feel sometimes.
That’s okay, but recognize that while working toward emotional health takes practice, it should not be taking so much effort that it becomes a burden or stresses you out.
Just like starting anything new, you will most likely need to build your way up to having multiple emotional health practices.
Start with one area (I suggest sleep or therapy) and after you’re in the habit of caring for yourself with that, add something else.
Emotional health is about maintenance, meaning it’s an ongoing practice.
It’s important to be patient with yourself and not give up. If you’re doing too much, acknowledge that it’s okay and cut back to a more reasonable pace.
For more tips on emotional health, check out this article over at FamilyDoctor.org.