Examples of emotional goals

Contents

Which person seems to have best emotional health

Answer choices are:

A. Jana plays hockey and boasts that she is the best goalie in her class.

B. Kurt spends time reading and makes friends with people who share his interests.

C. Maxine spends her free time playing video games or watching sports by herself.

D. Ryan schedules every minute of his day to study or to participate in one of several demanding sports.

Correct answer choice is:

B. Kurt spends time reading and makes friends with people who share his interests.

Explanation:

Kurt appears to possess the greatest emotional health. Jane prefers to bully and looks like she has something to show and is possibly attempting to neutralize for her uncertainties regarding playing hockey. Maxine doesn’t hang out with mates, she simply plays video games or views games by herself and that isn’t quite healthful. Ryan packs up his entire calendar with reading or participating sports and doesn’t get time for himself, and for immeasurable emotional health, a person requires a great outlay of lonely time. Kurt has a great perspective of studying books, a great pursuit for when you’re alone and hanging out with mates. Staying with mates who Participate in sharing your curiosities raises your self-confidence and improves your appreciation of life.

How to Build Good 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 react to upsetting situations, Fraga advises.

Coping strategies can include:

  • meditation
  • journaling
  • listening to music
  • talking to a therapist

2. Exercise

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.

Building Better Mental Health

Looking to boost your mood, handle your emotions better, or build resilience? These 6 life-changing strategies can show you how.

Your mental health influences how you think, feel, and behave in daily life. It also affects your ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.

Strong mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.

People who are mentally healthy have

  • A sense of contentment
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
  • The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.

The relationship between resilience and mental health

Having solid mental health doesn’t mean that you never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But just as physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience.

People who are emotionally and mentally resilient have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and productive, in bad times as well as good. Their resilience also makes them less afraid of new experiences or an uncertain future. Even when they don’t immediately know how a problem will get resolved, they are hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.

Whether you’re looking to cope with a specific mental health problem, handle your emotions better, or simply to feel more positive and energetic, there are plenty of ways to take control of your mental health—starting today.

How to boost your mental health (yes, it’s possible!)

Anyone can suffer from mental or emotional health problems—and over a lifetime most of us will. This year alone, about one in five of us will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Yet, despite how common mental health problems are, many of us make no effort to improve our situation.

We ignore the emotional messages that tell us something is wrong and try toughing it out by distracting ourselves or self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or self-destructive behaviors. We bottle up our problems in the hope that others won’t notice. We hope that our situation will eventually improve on its own. Or we simply give up—telling ourselves this is “just the way we are.”

The good news is: you don’t have to feel bad. There are practices you can adopt to elevate your mood, become more resilient, and enjoy life more. But just as it requires effort to build and maintain physical health, so it is with mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being.

Why are we often reluctant or unable to address our mental health needs?

Our inability to address our mental health needs stems from a variety of reasons:

  • In some societies, mental and emotional issues are seen as less legitimate than physical issues. They’re seen as a sign of weakness or somehow as being our own fault.
  • Some people mistakenly see mental health problems as something we should know how to “snap out of.” Men, especially, would often rather bottle up their feelings than seek help.
  • In the modern age, we’re obsessed with seeking simple answers to complex problems. We look for connection with others by compulsively checking social media instead of reaching out to people in the real world; to boost our mood and ease depression we take a pill, rather than address the underlying issues.
  • Many people think that if they do seek help for mental and emotional problems, the only treatment options available are medication (which comes with unwanted side effects) or therapy (which can be lengthy and expensive). The truth is that, whatever your issues, there are steps you can take to improve the way you feel and experience greater mental and emotional well-being. And you can start today!

Make social connection a priority—especially face-to-face

No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and function at your best. Humans are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship—even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.

Why is face-to-face connection so important?

Phone calls and social networks have their place, but nothing can beat the stress-busting, mood-boosting power of quality face-to-face time with other people.

The key is to interact with someone who is a “good listener”—someone you can regularly talk to in person, who will listen to you without their own conceptions of how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt, judge, or criticize you.

Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t make you a burden to others. Most people are flattered if you trust them enough to confide in them. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, there are good ways to build new friendships and improve your support network. In the meantime, there is still a great benefit to interacting face-to-face with acquaintances or people you encounter during the day, such as neighbors, people in the checkout line or on the bus, or the person serving you your morning coffee. Make eye contact and exchange a smile, a friendly greeting, or small talk.

Tips for connecting to others

  • Call a friend or loved one now and arrange to meet up. If you both lead busy lives, offer to run errands or exercise together. Try to make it a regular get-together.
  • If you don’t feel that you have anyone to call, reach out to acquaintances. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do—so be the one to break the ice. Reconnect with an old friend, invite a coworker out for lunch, or ask a neighbor to join you for coffee.
  • Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to have direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction.
  • Be a joiner. Join networking, social, or special interest groups that meet on a regular basis. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for meeting people with common interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to smile and say hello to strangers you cross paths with. Making a connection is beneficial to both of you—and you never know where it may lead!

Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body

The mind and the body are intrinsically linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Physical activity also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that lift your mood and provide added energy. Regular exercise or activity can have a major impact on mental and emotional health problems, relieve stress, improve memory, and help you to sleep better.

But what if I hate to exercise?

Well, you’re not alone. Pounding weights in a gym or jogging on a treadmill isn’t everyone’s idea of a great time. But you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits of being more active. Take a walk at lunchtime through a park, walk laps in an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, throw a Frisbee with a dog, dance to your favorite music, play activity-based video games with your kids, cycle or walk to an appointment rather than drive.

You don’t have to exercise until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches. Even modest amounts of physical activity can make a big difference to your mental and emotional health—and it’s something you can engage in right now to boost your energy and outlook and help you regain a sense of control.

Tips for starting an exercise routine

  • Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days. If it’s easier, three 10-minute sessions can be just as effective. Start now by taking a walk or dancing to a favorite song.
  • Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, weight training, martial arts, or dancing.
  • Add a mindfulness element to your workouts. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, focus on how your body feels as you move—how your feet hit the ground, for example, the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin.

Learn how to keep your stress levels in check

Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you brings things back into balance.

Talk to a friendly face. Face-to-face social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Interacting with another person can quickly put the brakes on damaging stress responses like “fight-or-flight.” It also releases stress-busting hormones, so you’ll feel better even if you’re unable to alter the stressful situation itself.

Appeal to your senses. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee or a favorite scent? Or maybe squeezing a stress ball works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so start experimenting now to find what works best for you. Once you discover how your nervous system responds to sensory input, you’ll be able to quickly calm yourself no matter where or when stress hits.

Make leisure time a priority. Partake in your favorite activities for no reason other than that they make you feel good. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.

Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

Take up a relaxation practice. While sensory input can relieve stress in the moment, relaxation techniques can help reduce your overall levels of stress—although they’re likely to take more time to learn effectively. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can put the brakes on stress and bring your mind and body back into a state of balance.

Manage emotions to relieve stress

Understanding and accepting your emotions—especially those unpleasant ones many of us try to ignore—can make a huge difference in your ability to manage stress and balance your moods. HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can show you how.

Eat a brain-healthy diet to support strong mental health

Unless you’ve tried to change your diet in the past, you may not be aware how much of what you eat—and don’t eat—affects the way you think and feel. An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your brain and mood, disrupt your sleep, sap your energy, and weaken your immune system. Conversely, switching to a wholesome diet, low in sugar and rich in healthy fats, can give you more energy, improve your sleep and mood, and help you to look and feel your best.

People respond slightly differently to certain foods, depending on genetics and other health factors, so experiment with how the food you include in—or cut from—your diet changes the way you feel. The best place to start is by cutting out the “bad fats” that can damage your mood and outlook, and replace them with “good fats” that support brain-health.

Foods that adversely affect mood

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Trans fats or anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil
  • Foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones
  • Sugary snacks
  • Refined carbs (such as white rice or white flour)
  • Fried food

Foods that boost mood

  • Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Flaxseed
  • Beans
  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Brussel’s sprouts
  • Fresh fruit such as blueberries

Don’t skimp on sleep—it matters more than you think

If you lead a busy life, cutting back on sleep may seem like a smart move. But when it comes to your mental health, getting enough sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Skipping even a few hours here and there can take a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your health and outlook.

While adults should aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, it’s often unrealistic to expect sleep to come the moment you lay down and close your eyes. Your brain needs time to unwind at the end of the day. That means taking a break from the stimulation of screens—TV, phone, tablet, computer—in the two hours before bedtime, putting aside work, and postponing arguments, worrying, or brainstorming until the next day.

Tips for getting better sleep

  • If anxiety or chronic worrying dominates your thoughts at night, there are steps you can take to learn how to stop worrying.
  • To wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep, try taking a warm bath, reading by a soft light, listening to soothing music, or practicing a relaxation technique before bed.
  • To help set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep, stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Curtains, white noise machines, and fans can help.

Find purpose and meaning in life

Everyone derives meaning and purpose in different ways that involve benefitting others, as well as yourself. You may think of it as a way to feel needed, feel good about yourself, a purpose that drives you on, or simply a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In biological terms, finding meaning and purpose is essential to brain health as it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. It can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue the other steps to improve mental and emotional health. However you derive meaning and purpose in life, it’s important to do it every day.

What gives you meaning and purpose?

Engaging work that provides meaning to yourself and others. Partake in activities that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for them. Some ideas are gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.

Relationships. Spending quality time where you give of yourself to people who matter to you, whether they’re friends, grandkids, or elderly relatives, can support both your health and theirs, while also providing a sense of purpose.

Caring for a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There’s no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Animals can also get you out of the house for exercise and expose you to new people and places.

Volunteering. Just as we’re hard-wired to be social, we’re also hard-wired to give to others. The meaning and purpose derived from helping others or the community can enrich and expand your life—and make you happier. There’s no limit to the individual and group volunteer opportunities you can explore. Schools, churches, nonprofits, and charitable organizations of all sorts depend on volunteers for their survival.

Caregiving. Taking care of an aging parent, a handicapped spouse, or a child with a physical or mental illness is an act of kindness, love, and loyalty—and can be as rewarding and meaningful as it is challenging.

When to seek professional help

If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and still aren’t functioning optimally at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. Following these self-help steps will still benefit you, though. In fact, input from a caring professional can often help motivate us to take better care of ourselves.

Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health

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.

Path to improved well being

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.

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 appropriate 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.

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.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?
  • Would medicine help me be able to cope better?
  • Should I see a therapist or counselor?
  • How does my physical health affect my emotional health?
  • What stress management techniques would work best for me?

Resources

National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mental Health

National Institute of Mental Health

What Is Emotional Health? And How To Improve it?

Emotional health, a concept synonymous with wellbeing, is vital to living a life of wholeness, balance, and contentment. Simply put, an emotional health definition is one that includes resilience – getting up when life knocks you down. Rather than living a problem-free life (quite impossible if you’re a human being), emotional health means that one can bounce back from setbacks and thrive despite problems.

Sometimes, when people discuss mental health, they are referring to the concepts of emotional health and wellbeing. Indeed, the terms mental health and emotional health can be used interchangeably. However, many times there is a difference between the two. The definition of mental health typically refers a state of being, related to the brain/mind and thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, that exists on a spectrum from optimal functioning to debilitating mental illness (List of Mental Illnesses). Emotional health, in contrast, refers to wellbeing and the way someone views, and lives, a life of wellness.

Definition of Emotional Health

Emotional health is a state of positive psychological functioning. It can be thought of as an extension of mental health; it’s the “optimal functioning” end of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make up both our inner and outer worlds. It includes an overall experience of wellness in what we think, feel, and do through both the highs and lows of life.

In a successful attempt to provide a definition of emotional health, the organization BelongTo.org (n.d.) quotes the Mental Health Foundation: emotional health is “a positive state of wellbeing which enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life.”

How To Improve Emotional Health

Improving emotional health is similar to improving physical health. It transcends the notion of mere freedom from illness to involve actively feeling well and living well.

Emotional health and wellbeing involve defining and creating your own life worth living, a concept that comes to us largely from the field of positive psychology.

An important step in creating emotional health is to identify your own emotions and to understand their value. All emotions have meaning and value simply because they’re part of us. That doesn’t mean they are all good for us to experience long-term, however. We don’t have to sit back and let feelings overwhelm us.

Instead, we can develop emotional intelligence, the ability to identify emotions and use them constructively. This leads to learning emotional regulation, or the ability to control emotions, monitoring them and adjusting our mindset and behavior accordingly.

Achieving emotional health and wellbeing is an active process that involves not only identifying emotions but also shaping how we think about them and how we act (or refrain from acting) on them. Some tips for creating your own emotional health definition and living it include:

  • Identifying personal strengths, building them, and living from them
  • Learning optimism, realistically seeing the positive in even bad situations
  • Developing the courage to define, and then live, your life worth living
  • Honing resiliency, the ability to learn from and bounce back from setbacks as well as flexibility in facing challenges
  • Seeing the good in yourself and developing a healthy self-concept
  • Building a social network, even if it’s small
  • Creating a set of coping skills for dealing with mental health difficulties and external stress
  • Living life with a sense of purpose
  • Making time for hobbies and leisure
  • Honoring your sense of creativity in your hobbies and leisure time

Benefits of Emotional Health

Emotional health takes work. It involves attending to and fine-tuning thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The benefits of creating and maintaining wellbeing, though, are well worth the effort. Defining and living your emotional health leads to positive change and personal growth, a healthy sense of self-confidence, a peaceful sense of healing and recovery from mental health challenges, and a sense of hope.

Whether one uses the term emotional health or mental health isn’t important. What is important is knowing what this wellness means to you and using the knowledge to shape your healthy life. A workable definition of emotional health as a life concept is a state of wellbeing, resilience, and recovery from mental health problems and/or stress that leads to a life worth living.

6 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Health

Improving Emotional Health

To be emotionally healthy is to be in control of one’s emotions and behaviour. This helps to handle the challenges in life and to build strong relationships. Maintaining your emotional health requires the same, if not more, effort to maintain your physical health.

Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean never experiencing bad times or going through emotional problems. Disappointment, loss, and change are all normal aspects of life, and they cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability called resilience. This involves having the ‘tools’ for coping with life’s setbacks. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in trying times.

People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have positive characteristics that allow them to participate in life through productive and meaningful activities. Some of these characteristics are:

  • A sense of contentment.
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.

6 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Health

  • Do things that positively impact others. Being useful to others and being valued for what you do can help build self-esteem.
  • Practice self-discipline. Self-control naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness and can help you overcome despair, helplessness, and other negative thoughts.
  • Learn or discover new things. Think of it as “intellectual candy.” Try taking an adult education class, join a book club, visit a museum, learn a new language, or simply travel somewhere new.
  • Enjoy the beauty of nature or art. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. The same goes for strolling through a park or an art gallery, hiking, admiring architecture, or sitting on a beach.
  • Manage your stress levels. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance.
  • Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Try to avoid becoming absorbed by repetitive mental habits—negative thoughts about yourself and the world that suck up time, drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.

Other things you may consider:

  • Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
  • Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it—things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.
  • Get a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There is no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Animals can also get you out of the house for exercise and expose you to new people and places.
  • Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
  • Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

When to seek professional help:

The following are some ‘red flags’ that may require immediate attention. If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these, consider making an appointment with your GP or mental health professional.

  • Inability to sleep
  • Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
  • Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life
  • Using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions
  • Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: November 2014.

Adapted from: Improving Emotional Health – Strategies and Tips for Good Mental Health

6 Concrete Ways to Improve Your Emotional Health

1. The basics: eat healthy food, get enough sleep, move your body, and use vices in moderation.

Like a car needs working parts and fuel to run smoothly, humans need healthy food, exercise, rest and to NOT poison our mind and body. The key to making positive change is to set attainable goals. If you recognize that change has been hard in the past, you might be pushing yourself too much. Instead, figure out and commit to one small change that you know you will and can do, like adding a salad or green vegetable to your lunch and dinner for a week and seeing how you take to it. After dinner, try taking a family walk around the block for exercise and bonding—this accomplishes two positive changes at the same time: exercise and bonding with family. When you are tired, rest, even for five minutes. One family member of mine said that to sleep better, their new year’s resolution was to read before bed instead of looking at their cell phone. I’m going to try that as well. Think about what would make you feel proud of yourself and try making a small change in a positive direction. Experiment to find what works for you. Be nice to yourself when something doesn’t work and then try another idea.

Use guilty pleasures in moderation, like food, drugs, alcohol, video games, and smartphones. Be aware that underlying emotions may be causing discomfort that you try to soothe with under-eating and over-eating food and vices. Instead of self-medicating in ways that hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself in the long run, strive to calm your mind and body in healthy ways. Below, I share what works for me and many others. Suffice it to say that every new habit we cultivate starts with willingness, courage, and education.

2. Learn about emotions! Emotion education has the power to transform anxiety and depression, bolster your confidence, and help you spend more time in calmer and authentic states of being.

Do you know the difference between your thoughts and your emotions? Did you know we cannot control whether we have emotions, just what we do with them once they are triggered? Did you know that if we bury core emotions, they make us anxious? Did you know emotions are there to make us move? Did you know that depression is often caused by anger towards another person that gets turned against one’s self? Did you know that shame is an emotion from which we all suffer? Did you know there is healthy shame that civilizes us and toxic shame that impairs us? Did you know the brain can change and heal from the day we are born until the day we die?

Society doesn’t provide formal education on emotions and how they affect both our mind and body. Nor do we learn in high school the many concrete skills available that help build emotional health and resilience. Society leaves us to flounder on our own. To make matters worse, we are raised with myths and misinformation on emotions. Therefore, we must take it upon ourselves to get an emotion education. Men, I am talking to you too. I know emotions scare you. Society has hurt you by teaching you that emotions are unmanly and something to be pushed away. Even learning the science of emotions brings forth anxiety and avoidance. The irony is that people avoid learning about emotions because of the myths and stigma in our society. Yet it’s only with a basic education that we can correct falsehoods and ignorance. It’s with education that we learn skills to prevent, ease, and even heal anxiety and depression. It’s with emotion education that we grow to embrace our authentic self, flaws and all. Our physical health improves too when we learn to validate emotions, as research shows many physical conditions are caused by buried emotions.

Here’s what you can do to get some information: During your commute to work, listen to a podcast or audiobooks on emotional health. You don’t have to do anything differently, just learn. You’ll be amazed much better you’ll feel about yourself just by understanding emotions. The Change Triangle is how I first learned about my emotions and now it’s my favorite way to teach others about emotions.

3. Practice grounding and breathing even if you are skeptical or think it’s dumb.

It wasn’t until I became a dentist that I started to floss my teeth. In dental school, I learned why flossing was important. And, I was annoyed that my dentist never thought to explain those simple things I learned in dental school that got me to floss. Similarly, when I was young and people told me to breathe to calm down, I wanted to punch them. Literally, it annoyed me so much because I didn’t understand what grounding and breathing would do. When I tried it, it felt stupid and too simple to make a difference. Just like I had to go to dental school to learn why I should floss, I had to train to become a trauma psychotherapist to understand why grounding and breathing were fundamental to emotional health.

Filling up with air as we do when we deep belly breathe (technically called diaphragmatic breathing) puts pressure on the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve connects directly to the heart and many other organs. When we massage that nerve with deep belly breathing, we actively slow our heart and switch into a more relaxed and open state of mind. At the age of 56, I now know breathing and grounding to be a key to emotional health and wellbeing. In fact, I start most of my sessions with it. When it comes to embracing breathing and grounding, better late than never! I am living proof of that.

4. Practice self-awareness with a stance of curiosity, unconditional compassion, and kindness towards yourself.

Getting to know yourself is endlessly fascinating unless you are blocked by fear. If you are scared to dip into your internal world, then that is where you begin—with fear. The fear has meaning and wisdom to offer. The task at hand is to listen to your fear, honor it, and validate it. But, please don’t judge your fear or any of your emotions and thoughts for that matter. We must judge our behaviors and actions for whether they are constructive or destructive—it’s important not to take actions that hurt yourself or others. But judging our emotions and thoughts is not of help. Judging shuts people down.

Approach your internal world in ways that open you up to new possibilities. That’s what makes it possible to change and transform for the better. We cannot change what is not in awareness and we cannot safely become aware of our emotions, thoughts, fantasies, and impulses if we judge them harshly. Curiosity and compassion are necessities when looking inward. When we cannot approach ourselves in accepting ways, we can work to grow that capacity. It takes practice. The kinder and more patient you are with yourself, the better you will feel. And this self-compassion will compel you to expect better treatment from others. Additionally, you’ll have more compassion to extend to loved ones and friends.

5. Work to simply name the emotions you are experiencing in the moment.

In an fMRI study, aptly titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people showing emotions as evidenced by their overt emotional facial expressions. When the participants looked at these faces, their emotional brain, called the amygdala, reacted which could be seen by fMRI. When people were asked to name the emotion they saw, another part of the brain responsible for calming emotions, called the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, activated and reduced the emotional activity of the amygdala. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions and putting language on emotions quieted the brain’s emotional reactivity. In 2020, work to name your emotions and you will improve!

6. Find and create practices to help yourself feel as good as possible.

If your goal this year is to feel calmer, more connected, less distressed, and headed to a better place by 2021, try out a few of the practices below (or others you find in your research). Practice any one that you can commit to trying for a month. Then evaluate if you feel better as a result. If so, keep doing it. If not, that’s ok too. Just try out another practice until you find the one(s) right for you:

  • Wake up in a way that feels the least anxiety-provoking. For example, I am not a morning person. Now that my kids are all grown, I give myself permission to have coffee in bed an hour or two before I have to get up and ready for work. I set my alarm clock accordingly.
  • Start the day with grounding and breathing exercises and repeat as needed at least two more times throughout the day. Slowing down for brief periods may actually increase your productivity. It does mine.
  • Muster your courage, risk embarrassment, and share something emotional with someone who is kind-hearted. Share from an authentic place inside you. No need to fix anything. It’s amazing how talking about our feelings openly with someone who listens compassionately transforms a bad feeling into something better.
  • Start a book group or peer group to talk about life.
  • At the end of every day, try a soothing ritual like taking a hot bath, having hot tea while you put the kids to bed, or stretching as you listen to music (you can do this with kids and teens too).
  • Start a gratitude journal (there’s research that shows it helps). All you do is write down three new things every day for which you feel grateful. Some people write them on notes and drop them in a “gratitude box.”
  • Cook a new healthy recipe every week.
  • Write for five minutes in a journal without editing or judging what you write.
  • Talk to your “future self” every now and again. Make sure you are moving toward your goals. Try this gentle exercise for a “future self” experience.
  • Work the Change Triangle to name and validate your emotions. The benefits are many. The Change Triangle is the go-to tool that I use personally and professionally every single day to build emotional strength and resilience.
  • With a partner or on your own, read books about psychology, trauma recovery, emotions, relationships, and communication that you can implement.
  • Add your own: _______________________________
  • _______________________________
  • _______________________________

A new year is an opportunity for change. Yet, change is hard—very hard. This year I am challenging myself with a Whole 30 diet for the month of January. It’s my second time braving this very daunting practice. It means no alcohol and no putting anything in my body that isn’t 100% natural. I dread the feeling of deprivation and I am excited to exert my willpower and lose a couple of pounds. I intend to lean into the sensations of deprivation and meditate on them without gratifying my desire to feel full. I hope you will challenge yourself in 2020 so in 2021 you can look back at this year with pride that you have done even one small thing differently and better. You can do it!

A+ for trying!

1. Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.

2. Start your day with a cup of co­ffee. Coff­ee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coff­ee because of the caff­eine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.

3. Set up a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!

4, Work your strengths. Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.

5. Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.

7. Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.

8. Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality, relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.

9. Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.

10. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” -Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr with #mentalillnessfeelslike. Check out what other people are saying here.

11. Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.

12. Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that’s geometric and a little complicated for the best effect. Check out hundreds of free printable coloring pages here.

13. Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

14. Go off the grid. Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.

15. Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).

16. Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.

17. Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

18. Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.

19. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol, and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.

20. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” – Henry David Thoreau. Practice mindfulness by staying “in the present.” Try these tips.

21. Be a tourist in your own town. Often times people only explore attractions on trips, but you may be surprised what cool things are in your own backyard.

22. Try prepping your lunches or picking out your clothes for the work week. You’ll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control about the week ahead.

23. Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

24. Practice forgiveness – even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

25. “What appear to be calamities are often the sources of fortune.” – Disraeli. Try to find the silver lining in something kind of cruddy that happened recently.

26. Feeling stressed? Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.

27. Send a thank you note – not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

28. Do something with friends and family – have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends and family.

29. Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature – it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

30. Do your best to enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine, and apply sunscreen. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator.

31. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein. Try something outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.

What Is the Difference Between Mental Health & Emotional Health?

You may have heard the terms mental health and emotional health used interchangeably. You may have even used them as synonyms yourself. However, mental and emotional health have very different meanings.

Many people become interested in how to take better care of your general well-being, and others may want to learn more about mental health issues and behavioral health treatment options. In trying to learn more, it becomes important to differentiate mental health from emotional health.

What Is Mental Health?

The phrase “mental health” is used every day, from being the subject of news reports to coming up in casual conversation. However, do you know what mental health actually means?

Mental health influences your thoughts and actions, and it covers three main types of well-being:

  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Emotional

The status of your mental health can affect many different areas of your life, from your ability to manage stress to how well you maintain your relationships with others. There are a wide range of symptoms associated with mental health problems, including severe changes in mood, feeling a lack of energy, overeating or under-eating, insomnia, excessive sleeping, and increased use of drugs and alcohol.

What Is Emotional Health?

Like mental health, the phrase emotional health can easily be used in conversation, even if no one is quite sure about the term’s meaning. Emotional health is having both an awareness of your emotions and the ability to manage and express those feelings in an age-appropriate manner.

There are no instant fixes for bettering your emotional health; however, there are many steps you can take to improve it. For instance, try to identify the positive in situations and work on developing your strengths instead of focusing on any perceived weaknesses.

While mental and emotional health are similar in some respects, it is important to remember that these terms are ultimately very different. Some differences that separate mental health from emotional include:

Difference #1: Processing Information Versus Expressing Emotion

Part of mental health is how well your mind processes and understands information and experiences. In contrast, emotional health involves your ability to manage and express the emotions that arise from what you have learned and experienced.

Difference #2: One Can Thrive While the Other Struggles

An important distinction between mental and emotional health is that you can experience mental health issues while maintaining good emotional health, and vice versa. For example, while struggling with a

mental health problem like having little energy for daily tasks, you can still exhibit emotional health by finding effective ways to manage that lack of energy.

Difference #3: The Scope of the Two Terms

Mental health is not only about how well you understand and process what you experience. It also includes your ability to carefully reason through decisions and maintain a steady, focused attention span. The wide scope of mental health puts it in sharp contrast to emotional health, which has the more focused definition of actively understanding and managing your emotions.

Find Help with Behavioral Health Treatment

If you are struggling with your mental health, consider reaching out to the Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare Assessment Center. We are here to provide behavioral health assessments and evaluations and will work with you to develop a unique treatment plan that best meets your needs.

Learn More

All content provided on the Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to represent medical advice. Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. and its blog authors make no guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. and its blog authors will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information provided in the blog, nor be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. The opinions stated in this blog reflect those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time with or without notice.

When thinking about our health, many times we believe ailments are either physical or mental. However, a third realm of our well-being exists. Emotional health, while it may sound less important, deserves just as much attention as our mental health. Mental health and emotional health might seem very similar, when in fact they are not the same at all. A healthy state for all individuals is to find a balance between the intellectual and emotional side.

There are some areas of mental and emotional health that overlap. Processing and reasoning are two essential parts of our personality that also carry over into mental health. A strong sense of reasoning is required to make sure we aren’t losing control of our emotions or becoming unstable. Our decisions on how to react to various scenarios must also be processed very carefully to avoid anxiety or stress. Lacking a balance between processing and reasoning puts our health in an unstable state, and we may experience disorientation and have difficulty functioning efficiently.

To help distinguish between mental and emotional health, it may help to define each.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health involves cognitive thinking and harnessing one’s attention to stay focused, which includes processing information, storing it in memory, and understanding this new information. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Like stated above, mental health also includes appropriately exercising reason and processing any learned information.

Some individuals at some point in their life may experience mental health issues, which can affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Research shows that 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffer a mental illness each year. There are many different mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, each with different symptoms. Common symptoms of mental illness include:

  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Suicidal or harmful thoughts
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

Mental illness can be treated, and at Pasadena Villa we use individualized treatment plans customized to meet each client’s specific needs. Our treatment environment is firmly rooted in Pasadena Villa’s Social Integration ModelTM, which teaches coping skills in a combination of group and individual therapy and practiced through on-site and off-site activities. Our clinicians continuously interact and observe clients to provide coaching and encouragement in real time during relevant life strategies.

What is Emotional Health?

On the other hand, emotional health is the state of positive psychological functioning and involves expressing one’s emotions appropriately for one’s age. Emotional health includes our thoughts, feelings, and behavior internally and externally. It requires managing emotional actions and gauging the appropriate reactions to situations, preventing unnecessary and unhealthy stress, which if severe enough can lead to depression. Maintaining positive emotional health is an active process. Some tips for creating and living emotional health include:

  • Identifying and building personal strengths
  • Realistically seeing the positive in all situations – good or bad
  • Developing the resiliency to learn and overcome challenging situations
  • Seeing the good in yourself
  • Creating coping skills to help with mental health issues and stress
  • Living your life with a sense of purpose

Mental and emotional health, while separate in their ways, are both necessary and work together cohesively. Effectively managing both our mental health and emotional health can help us to eliminate stress, fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and worry. As human beings with hundreds of thoughts and emotions running through us continuously, we make many choices based on feelings. Many of which are created through cognitive reasoning and processing the situation at hand. These two separate, yet complimentary realms of health work together to ensure our overall health is up to par and we effectively communicate and interact with others.

If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. We are here to answer questions and connect to care. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about our program, call us at
1.877.845.5235
or
Complete Our Contact Form

Physical health and mental health

A clear distinction is often made between ‘mind’ and ‘body’. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate.

Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.

Since the founding of the NHS in 1948, physical care and mental health care have largely been disconnected. There is an increasing call on healthcare professionals to consider psychological wellbeing when treating the physical symptoms of a condition and vice versa. You can read about the work we do as a Foundation to lobby government policies on the subject.

How mental health affects physical health

There are various ways in which poor mental health has been shown to be detrimental to physical health.

People with the highest levels of self-rated distress (compared to lowest rates of distress) were 32% more likely to have died from cancer.1,2 Depression has been found to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease3

Schizophrenia is associated with:

  • double the risk of death from heart disease
  • three times the risk of death from respiratory disease.

This is because people with mental health conditions are less likely to receive the physical healthcare they’re entitled to. Mental health service users are statistically less likely to receive the routine checks (like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol) that might detect symptoms of these physical health conditions earlier. They are also not as likely to be offered help to give up smoking, reduce alcohol consumption and make positive adjustments to their diet.

Lifestyle Factors

These lifestyle factors can influence the state of both your physical and mental health.

Exercise

Physical activity in any form is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as improving your mental wellbeing. Research shows that doing exercise influences the release and uptake of feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Read the Let’s Get Physical report for more on the positive health benefits of physical activity.

Physical activity means any movement of your body that uses your muscles and expends energy. From tending your garden to running a marathon, even gentle forms of exercise can significantly improve your quality of life. For more tips on the ways in which you can build physical activity into your routine, download our Let’s get physical booklet.

Diet

Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The food we eat can influence the development, management and prevention of numerous mental health conditions including depression and Alzheimer’s. Read about the ways in which you can ensure you are getting a balanced diet.

Smoking

Smoking has a negative impact on both mental and physical health. Many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, but these effects are only short-term.

  • People with depression are twice as likely to smoke as other people.
  • People with schizophrenia are three times as likely to smoke as other people.

Nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the chemicals in our brains. Dopamine is a chemical which influences positive feelings, and is often found to be lower in people with depression. Nicotine temporarily increases the levels of dopamine, but also switches off the brain’s natural mechanism for making the chemical. In the long term, this can make a person feel as though they need more and more nicotine in order to repeat this positive sensation.

Long-term health conditions and mental health

The promotion of positive mental health can often be overlooked when treating a physical condition. Psoriasis is one such condition in which the effects go beyond the visual signs and symptoms, impacting psychological wellbeing and quality of life.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a condition which is commonly characterised by red flaky sores on the surface of the skin, but its effects go beyond the visual signs and symptoms.

Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition commonly triggered by stress. It affects 1.8 million people in the UK and can impact on emotional as well as physical wellbeing.

  • Up to 85% feel annoyance with their psoriasis
  • Approximately one third experience anxiety and depression
  • 1 in 10 admit to contemplating suicide
  • 1 in 3 experience feelings of humiliation about their condition
  • 1 in 5 report being rejected (and stigmatised) as a result of their condition
  • 1/3 experience problems with loved ones.

Yet, a recent report from the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) highlighted that only 4% of Dermatology Units have access to a counsellor.

The physical and psychological impacts can be cyclically linked: the condition can cause emotional distress which can trigger a psoriasis flare and, as a result, cause further distress.

Some people with psoriasis can feel that their GP regards psoriasis as a minor skin complaint and are dismissive of the emotional aspects, leaving many to continue unaided on the isolating and emotional journey associated with psoriasis.

What Is Emotional Wellness?

Source: Shaharirir_Pixaby

October is Emotional Wellness Month and emotional wellness is critical to our well-being and health. Mental health is one of today’s major health challenges, as approximately one in five individuals suffers from a mental health episode each year.

Emotional wellness is a term often used in spiritual circles, and it can often serve to fend off mental challenges, but what is it, and what does it really mean to be emotionally well?

According to the National Center for Emotional Wellness, the term refers to an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change. When you’re tuned into your feelings, then you can more easily become aware of your bodily sensations. The more you act on your feelings and emotions, the more reliable they become. Remaining in the present moment and adhering to a sense of mindfulness, without looking back too much into the past or the future, is also very important for your emotional well-being.

Being emotionally well encourages you to slow down and fosters the practice of mindfulness. Being emotionally well doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy all the time, but rather, that you’re self-aware and able to shift as a way to feel better. Being emotionally well leads to a happier and more blissful life, and also allows you the opportunity to attain your full potential.

For the most part, being human means having challenges and problems; however, it’s all about how you deal or cope with those issues that determines your emotional wellness. It’s also about embracing all the goodness in your life and looking at your glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

Here are some questions to help you ascertain if you’re maintaining a sense of emotional wellness:

  1. How do you treat others in your life, both personally and professionally? Those who are emotionally well tend to be more sensitive and compassionate about the needs of others, and in general, are more spiritually generous.
  2. Are you grateful? Emotionally healthy people feel gratitude for their lives and for all the goodness they experience. They’re appreciative of what they do have rather than bemoaning what they do not have. They usually count all their life’s blessings, and this does not always pertain to money or material objects, but rather, relates to more spiritual aspects of their lives.
  3. Are you happy with the person you are? Those who are emotionally healthy are usually content with themselves. They might feel as if they’re living the lives they’ve always wanted to live. They also take care of themselves physically and psychologically by doing what is beneficial for them. And, they’re rarely complainers, but instead, might be seekers who are often trying to become better people and help those around them do the same. They might also engage in positive self-talk.
  4. Are you open-minded and flexible? This means that you’re self-aware and listen to the thoughts and musings of yourself and others. Also, you do not feel attached to any particular dogma or philosophy but are willing to hear the viewpoints and musings of others.
  5. Do you have a life purpose? Those who do generally have a well-developed sense of well-being because they have a reason to wake up in the morning. They also have a tendency to see life’s bigger picture. They tend to know their core values, what’s most important to them, and how to focus on those values. Their purpose gives life meaning, whether it’s professional, family oriented, or community oriented.
  6. Do you have ways to manage your stress? Those who are emotionally stable have their own ways of navigating the stressors in their lives, whether it’s meditation, exercise, talk therapy, or creative pursuits such as art, music, or writing. They’re able to maintain a balance between work and play.

In general, maintaining a sense of well-being in our everyday lives can relate to both the positive and negative activities in our daily routines (Garling, Gamble, Fors, Hjerm, 2014). Positive well-being leads to happiness, whereas negative well-being tends to lead to depression and mental challenges. If we all try to maintain a good sense of emotional wellness, then this world will definitely be a better place, but it takes a group effort, and there’s no time like the present to begin!

10 Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health Through Improving Your Self-Esteem

Taking care of your emotional health is as important as taking care of your physical body. If your emotional health is out of balance, you may experience high blood pressure, ulcers, chest pain, or a host of other physical symptoms.

When you feel good about yourself, it’s much easier to cope with life’s little ups and downs as well as bigger events, such as divorce or a death, says Jeff Gardere, PhD, a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City.

Here are 10 ways you can practice better stress management and boost your self-esteem. These strategies will help you stay resilient through everyday stresses and when larger personal issues arise.

1. Grow Your Circle of Friends to Expand Your Support System

“It’s very important that you have a support group of friends and family,” Dr. Gardere says. “You need people whom you can talk to about your problems — people who will listen to you when you need to get things off your chest — so that you know you’re not alone in whatever it is.”

2. Learn More to Lessen the Fear of the Unknown

“Knowledge is power,” Gardere says. If you have a problem, learn whatever you can about the issue or the health condition you’re facing. The more you know, the less you will fear what might happen, Gardere says.

3. Get Moving to Improve Mood and Lessen Anxiety

Any form of exercise that you enjoy will do. “Regular exercise works as a good partner for people who are on medication,” Gardere says. Exercise also works well for people who have mild or moderate depression and don’t need to be on medication. Think of it as a great tool for stress management.

4. Have Sex to Build Confidence and Self-Worth

Intimacy within a committed relationship has all sorts of emotional benefits — it can help make you feel good about yourself and boost self-esteem. “Figure out a schedule that works for you and your trusted partner — that could be once a week or three times a week or twice a month,” Gardere says.

5. Develop a Passion by Investing Time in a New Hobby

Everyone should have at least one hobby, Gardere says, whether it’s taking care of plants, collecting antiques, or listening to music. You should do something that brings you some real joy — a passion that’s all yours and that no one can take from you. Having a hobby and taking pride in it is a great way to boost self-esteem.

6. Eat and Drink Healthfully and in Moderation

Alcohol can be a good stress reducer, but you must indulge in extreme moderation, Gardere says. The same advice applies to indulging in food. You can eat what you want and enjoy it as long as you eat smaller portions and get regular exercise, he says. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your physical and your emotional health.

7. Meditate or Practice Yoga to Relieve Stress

These types of activities are effective for stress management. Meditation is a focused form of guided thought. Yoga and tai chi, while movement-oriented, are also proven stress busters.

Other stress-reducing techniques include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. If you’re unsure of how to get started, take a class and learn how to practice on your own for 30 minutes, three times a week.

8. Manage Your Time by Setting Weekly Goals

If you make a schedule and set goals for yourself for the week, “you’ll be more on top of your days, and when you’re more on top of your days, you’re more on top of your life,” Gardere says. As you cross off the tasks on your to-do list, you will feel a sense of accomplishment which will help reduce stress, he adds.

9. Get Enough Sleep to Maintain Energy and Increase Productivity

“People who get a good night’s sleep wake up with more energy and tend to be more productive,” Gardere says. If you are overly tired, every task and responsibility can seem exaggerated, and even small problems will feel like big ones.

10. Learn to Say No and Refrain From Overextending Yourself

If you try to do more than you can handle, you will only end up frustrated and stressed out. If someone asks you to do something you absolutely can’t do, say no. At the very least, ask for help. And if you can’t do it, explain why kindly but firmly.

Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to handle whatever life throws at you. However, if your emotional problems are serious and you can’t seem to shake them yourself, or if you’re having issues with anxiety or depression, it’s very important that you see a mental health professional and get help, Gardere says.

6 Ways to 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.

Now let’s look at 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. 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 are 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.

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