Mark A. Mahoney
The continuing uncertainty on inflation, politics and related concerns for many individuals make the issue of emotional health and mental well-being of significant importance.
Today’s column provides an overview on this topic and also provides some additional resources. So, just what is emotional health and what might we do to improve it?
How you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, your relationships, and your overall mental health. How you react to your experiences and feelings can change over time. Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.
Mental health influences your thoughts and actions, and it covers three main types of well-being:
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.
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.
Some steps to improve emotional wellness
According to Kerry Welch, MS, CAADC, a behavioral health therapist the first step in improving emotional well-being is to practice self-compassion.
- Replace negative self-talk with patience and understanding.
- Give yourself the space and room to feel and process your emotions.
- Focusing on our emotional well-being and health is an ever-changing, lifelong process. And even a little work can go a long way.
Here are several recommendations to help improve your emotional well-being:
People tend to treat other people far better than they treat themselves. The initial and most crucial step, toward improving your emotional wellness is being kind to yourself. “Treat yourself how you treat other people,” says Welch.
Set small goals
Instead of focusing on everything you need to achieve, set a few small tasks each day that you can realistically accomplish.
Breaking down big, long-term goals into small, achievable tasks can help minimize stress while taking meaningful steps toward those big goals. “Set specific, very small goals that you can build upon,” says Welch. When you accomplish those tasks, reward yourself with something that makes you happy.
Try some relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation can help improve your emotional well-being by helping you slow down and stay in the present moment.
All too often, our minds wander and our thoughts race about all the things we could and should be doing differently. When we meditate, engage in deep breathing exercises, or practice mindfulness, we can gain perspective so that stressors don’t control our thoughts and behaviors.
Work on building up a strong support system
According to Welch, socialization and connection are essential ways to improve your overall well-being and emotional wellness. Everyone needs people in their lives they can open up to.
Focus on taking care of your health and well-being
Diet, sleep, and physical activity (exercise) can all impact our emotional wellness.
When we are more active, our body releases endorphins — the feel-good chemicals that boost our mood and help improve emotional wellness.
Being more physically active also helps lowers our blood pressure, gives us a more positive sense of accomplishment, and can lead to lowering stress.
Being more active entails many activities from yoga and walking to a high-energy workout class to intramural sports.
What we eat doesn’t just impact our physical health — it affects our emotional health, too. A healthy, balanced diet gives your brain and body the nourishment it needs to boost your mood and emotional well-being.
Prioritize your sleep and aim to get eight hours per night. Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences — it impacts our mood, ability to focus and behaviors.
Become engaged in hobbies or activities
Stress can be all-consuming, and one of the best ways to combat stress is to find an activity or hobby that lets you get outside of yourself. Welch recommends volunteering in your community or reaching out to others who are in need. This can help you keep perspective by turning your focus away from the stressors in your life.
A final word
Emotional well-being is how well people are able to process their emotions and cope with life challenges.
Managing stress, fostering positive social connections, and taking care of physical and mental health may all help individuals maintain good emotional well-being.
Thanks to Pyramid Health Medical News Today and the National Institutes of Health for much of the content provided.
An emotional wellness toolkit is available through the National Institutes of Health with information on strategies for improving emotional health at nih.gov.
Medical News Today provides some important aspects of emotional well-being including factors that can influence emotional well-being, signs to look for in individuals who might be experiencing emotional well-being and tips for improving emotional well-being. Access the link at medicalnewstoday.com.
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 30 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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