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What Is Emotional Health? Essentials of Mental and Emotional Wellness

Emotional health is an essential part of overall health and well-being. Our ability to understand our emotions and regulate our responses is necessary in today’s modern society. But what is emotional wellness, and why are emotions important? Let’s look at the keys to mental and emotional health.

Emotional health is about being aware of your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Emotional wellness includes being able to identify your own emotions (positive, negative, or neutral) and applying any number of self-care steps to help maintain a healthy balance of emotions. Emotional health includes being able to learn and grow from your experiences so that you can make better decisions for yourself as new or challenging situations arise.

Good emotional health may mean that you know which thoughts can cause you to feel certain emotions and that you can regulate your response to different circumstances. You understand that stress may be a normal part of life, and you know healthy ways to improve your mood and deal with emotionally challenging situations.

On the other hand, people with poor emotional health tend to be more reactive to the world around them and may have difficulty expressing themselves emotionally. They may feel personally victimized by situations that are out of their control, or they may unknowingly create stressful or unsafe situations for themselves.

Someone with low emotional health often shows signs of anxiety, stress, and other mental health illnesses. These signs may include extreme mood swings; an inability to cope with new or changing situations; and frequently feeling sad, angry, or fearful.

Creating and maintaining good emotional health is part of a mind–body connection approach to caring for your overall mental and physical health. Over time, feelings of depression and anxiety can create chronic physical pain, illnesses, and disability. Similarly, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and developing good habits may help optimize overall health and well-being. 

We’ve outlined some of the keys to mental and emotional health below. Learn these tips to reduce risk of developing mental and emotional health illnesses so that you may be more resilient in times of stress.

The keys to mental and emotional health start with you. To develop your emotional wellness, you have to get to know yourself and how you think about the world. Learning about your core beliefs, your values, what brings you joy, and what you’re grateful for will help you find ways to manage your stress levels. Overall, you’ll improve your ability to adapt, grow, and live a more balanced life. 

The keys to mental and emotional health include:

  • Improving your resilience
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Building healthy social connections
  • Being mindful
  • Liking who you are

Let’s look at each emotional wellness example in more detail.

Developing and improving your resilience is an emotional strength that will serve you well, especially in challenging situations. Throughout your life, you will inevitably have to deal with people or circumstances that cause you to feel difficult emotions such as stress, anxiety, grief, or anger. Situations like losing your job, having financial struggles, or mourning the death of a loved one can cause emotional pain.

Resilience is about being able to experience emotional struggles without letting them consume you for long periods. Rather than allowing a painful situation to take over your life or trying to avoid it altogether with harmful coping strategies (like abusing alcohol or illegal drugs), you can try to accept what happened so that you can move forward with your life.

Improving your resilience helps build emotional strength to handle whatever might come your way.

Stress is a normal part of life, but when we spend more time in a stressed state than a relaxed one, our bodies will start to fight back. Physical symptoms of chronic stress may include high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, back pain, digestive issues, and stomach ulcers. Stress can also cause hormonal imbalances that disrupt or delay your period.

Reducing your stress will help balance your nervous system so that you can maintain your overall health and well-being. There are many different ways to help reduce stress, so choose a few that work for you:

  • Journaling or keeping a gratitude list
  • Physical exercise, doing your favorite sport or activity
  • Gentle exercise such as going for a walk or doing yoga
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Reading a book or listening to your favorite music
  • Spending time in nature
  • Switching off from social media or the news, especially if you’re feeling anxious
  • Getting enough rest

Good-quality sleep is another key to developing and maintaining your emotional wellness. Getting enough sleep has several benefits such as improved learning and memory function and improved mood. Adults should aim for six to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Good sleep habits will help you get better rest and ultimately give you more energy and focus throughout your day. Try these tips for better sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep routine that includes unwinding from your day by limiting screen time, not eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime, and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Get regular exercise and limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco products.
  • Create a healthy sleep environment that’s quiet and has dim lighting, cozy bedding, and a comfortable sleeping temperature.

Building healthy and supportive social bonds helps your overall emotional health. Studies have shown that building and maintaining positive relationships with your friends, family members, neighbors, and peers can help reduce stress levels and prolong your life expectancy.

Having a healthy relationship with someone doesn’t mean that you agree on everything or that you’re happy all the time. Healthy relationships involve deep listening, mutual respect, and trust.

Mindfulness is one of the keys to your mental and emotional health. Mindfulness practices encourage you to observe your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physical sensations objectively and as they are. 

Being mindful means being in the present moment — a place that makes it impossible to worry about the future or regret the past. Mindfulness and meditation exercises increase your capacity for attention, focus, and decision-making and help you accept yourself for who you are.

A strong sense of self lies at the root of your mental and emotional health. Liking who you are can be challenging because the media and advertisements often send messages suggesting that we’re not good enough, smart enough, or don’t have enough to be truly happy.

Liking who you are doesn’t mean that you love every part of you always. It means that you accept yourself for who you are and want to continue your own growth and emotional development.

Emotional wellness is increasingly recognized as a necessary part of living a healthy life overall. By building resilience, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, being mindful, and building strong social bonds, you’ll learn how to like yourself more and enhance your overall emotional wellness.

https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/emotional

https://familydoctor.org/mindbody-connection-how-your-emotions-affect-your-health/?adfree=true

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1757913914561670

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/04/building-social-bonds

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356?p=1

https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/emotional

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/08/positive-emotions-your-health

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-to-get-to-sleep/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

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