We humans live in a material world, surrounded by things we can see, touch and feel. When we get hungry, we eat some food; when we get cold, we put on warm clothes. But what do we do when we’re feeling “under the weather”, “slightly off”, or simply having a less-than-amazing day? In other words, what do we do when those aspects of ourselves that are not visible to the naked eye start demanding our attention?
We often forget that our emotions form a very big part of who we are, and that they are powerful. Just think about those “goosebumps” or “butterflies” – physical reactions we experience when we feel a strong emotion.
Our emotions impact every aspect of our being, which is why it’s so important for us to be in touch with them – whatever they may be. Remember, there are no “bad” feelings or emotions. Uncomfortable emotions are simply tools for helping us to understand ourselves – and what motivates us – better.
Understanding and accepting our emotions improve all our relationships, especially the most important one of all – our relationship with ourselves. A good relationship with yourself is one that is free of judgment. When we accept ourselves, flaws and all, our physical body can relax and function optimally as well.
What does emotional health look like?
People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their feelings. They still get sad, angry and anxious from time to time, but they don’t over-identify with those feelings. People who are emotionally healthy, or emotionally intelligent, have simply learnt the necessary skills to manage their feelings effectively.
Remember, having a negative thought arise in your mind does not mean that it is true. It is possible to just observe that thought, label it as “untrue” or “not applicable” – and let it go. Poor emotional health often stems from low self-esteem.
There are many reasons why someone might have low self-esteem. Often, it comes from childhood experience. Speaking to a professional therapist can be very helpful in understanding your feelings, motivations and behaviour.
Remember, the relationship with yourself is one that will last a lifetime and it will impact all your other relationships. It is worth investing the necessary time and energy in order to ensure that your relationship with yourself is as healthy as it can possibly be.
Tips for looking after and growing emotional health
1. Set boundaries
Let others know – friendly, but firmly – when you cannot accommodate them. Remember to ask for help and support when you need it, too. Don’t be afraid to say no. If you are always stretching yourself to do more than you can handle, you will soon experience some sort of emotional – and even physical – burnout.
2. Use your support system
Every one of us needs someone to confide in and to offload to when it all gets a bit too much. Sharing your problems with a person you trust will instantly help you feel better – and you might even gain some helpful new insights and perspectives.
3. Keep learning – and growing
If there is something that bothers you, make an effort to learn more about it in order to understand it better. Whether it is something about yourself, like a destructive pattern of behaviour, or about someone else that is affecting you – do use all the resources available to you to find out more about it. Remember, knowledge is power!
4. Pursue a passion
Exploring a hobby or passion – something that you love doing and that is yours and yours alone – can be a great boost for emotional wellbeing. Whether it is gardening, reading, yoga, ballet, art classes or a particular field of study; any activity that brings you joy is great for improving self-esteem and overall well-being.
5. Move it, move it
Exercise can be a great mood enhancer. It doesn’t have to be anything too intense – a brisk 20-minute walk twice a week will make a huge difference! Find a form of exercise that you already enjoy, such as dancing, hiking in nature or yoga. Exercise stimulates the brain’s release of serotonin – a known mood booster that will increase feelings of well-being.
6. Eat, drink and be healthy
Maintaining a healthy weight will improve both your physical and emotional health. Try to eat as much fresh, organic foods as possible and limit your intake of red meat, processed foods, sugar and alcohol. The saying “you are what you eat” might be a cliché, but it remains true.
7. Meditate – or stretch – the stress away
Manage stress and anxiety by practising yoga, tai chi or by meditating two to three times a week. These practices, along with deep breathing and muscle-stretching exercises are proven stress busters.
8. Get a good night’s rest
This remedy is so simple that a lot of people tend to overlook it. Being sleep deprived makes us irritable and more prone to stress and anxiety. What’s more – it seriously hampers our ability to concentrate. Going to bed just one hour earlier than usual will improve your mood, concentration and energy levels.
9. Set goals
Making a schedule and setting weekly goals will allow you to feel more in control of your time. When we feel more in control, we tend to be more secure and at ease in general. Ticking off tasks on a to-do list allows for a sense of accomplishment, which is great for reducing stress.
10. Reach out to a professional
While everyone experiences stress and anxiety from time to time, it’s important to know when it is time to seek professional help. If you find your emotional challenges to be overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Mental health issues are very common and nothing to be embarrassed about.
Here is a great little video with some useful tips for improving your mood and overall wellbeing:
Make the most of your time on earth by looking after your body. We share ways to improve your health through the lifestyle choices you make. It’s all about healthy living and being the best version of yourself.
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