We all experience challenges in life, some of us major and some minor. How we manage our emotional health during these periods and beyond is what affects our overall well-being. Do you think positive emotions improve your health?
It may be useful to view emotions as the experience and flow of feelings.
These can include (but are not limited to) happiness, joy, contentment, sadness, anger, or fear and can be triggered by something external (from watching a movie, to seeing an accident) or something internal (recalling an unpleasant memory).
While emotions are universal, each person may experience them and respond to them in a different way. Furthermore some people may struggle with understanding what emotion they are experiencing.
People who have good emotional health are aware of their behaviours, feelings and thoughts. They have healthy relationships and they feel good about themselves.
Albert Ellis the psychologist, an important contributor to the ideas behind cognitive-behavioural therapy and founder of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) said that emotions don’t come from what happens to you (as we all assume) but from your thoughts about what has happened.
So what can you do to improve your awareness for emotional wellbeing, building resilience, strengthening your relationships, improving your mood and getting more enjoyment out of life?
Social Interaction For Emotional Wellbeing
Social interaction is vital to human health, both mentally and physically. Humans are social beings, with an overriding emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others.
People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Therefore an important factor in improving emotional health and building resilience is having supportive people around that you can talk to on a daily basis.
Social support not only helps improve a person’s well-being, it affects the immune system as well, where the lack of social interaction can negatively lead to first signs of depression and anxiety.
People with supportive friends and family generally have better mental and physical health than those who lack these networks. The same is true for those who take part in churches, clubs and voluntary organisations.
Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older.
Strategies For Connecting To Others For Emotional Wellbeing
- Catch up with friends and family.
- Meet new people.
- Join a club. Join networking, social, or special interest groups that meet on a regular basis. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for meeting people with common interests.
- Attend a Meet up group. Meetups are gatherings of like-minded people, often at a bar or restaurant or walk, who get together to just chat and get to know each other.
- Join a class.
- Volunteering has a positive effect researchers have discovered that the greatest benefit of social connection stems from the act of giving to others. When measuring hormones and brain activity when people are being helpful to others, researchers have discovered that being generous delivers pleasure.
- Limit screen time. We all love our smartphones and devices but;
- Get out from behind your smart phone, computer or TV screen. Spending too much time staring at a screen denies you the face-to-face interactions that can meaningfully connect you to others.
- Screens have their place but communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to be in direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favour of virtual interaction.
Avoid Isolation That May Adversely Affect Emotional Wellbeing
Living alone or in a limited social circle due to relocation, aging, or decreased mobility can lead to isolation and an increased risk of depression.
Whatever your situation, try to schedule regular social activities with friends, neighbours, colleagues, or family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you.
Manage Stress For Better Emotional Health
Many of us spend so much of our daily lives feeling stressed, we’re no longer even aware of it. Being stressed feels normal. But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can damage your mood, trigger or aggravate mental and physical health problems, and affect your quality of life.
While social interaction and exercise are excellent ways to relieve stress, it’s not always realistic to have a friend close by to lean on when you feel stressed or to be able to go out for a run.
What creates disabling stress in one person, may not have the same effect on another. What best relieves stress is also personal. So try different things till you find what works for you. Some examples are:
- Relaxation techniques to relieve stress. Such as Yoga, massage, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, laughing, pilates. Deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can put the brakes on stress and bring your mind and body back into a state of balance.
- Deal with your emotional triggers through:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that aims to address how your problems are affecting you in the here-and-now.
- Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) looks at the relationship between your unconscious and conscious minds and helps us to understand that when there is incongruence between the two, a host of physiological responses can occur.
- Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment
- Start a stress journal to understand what triggers your emotional responses.
- Listen to music that uplifts you.
- Reach out to your social network.
- Be present. Slow down.
- In this relaxation technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation.
- Mandala Circles. This is a drawing technique to calm the mind.
- Schedule Pleasant Activities.
Exercise For Emotional Wellbeing
When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. The mind and the body are intrinsically linked.
Exercise not only strengthens your heart and lungs, for example, it also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that lift your mood and provide added energy.
Even modest amounts of exercise 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
Exercise such as walking, swimming, weight training, running, martial arts, put on some music and dance. 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
Let Your Diet Support Your Emotions
Eating healthy is about giving you more energy, feeling great, improving your mood and improving your health. Learn how to create a tasty, varied, and healthy diet that is as good for your mind as it is for your body.
Our bodies often respond differently to different foods, experiment to learn how the food you include in, or cut from your diet affects the way you feel.
Foods That May Adversely Affect Emotional Wellbeing
- Fried food
- Refined carbs (such as white rice or white flour)
- Sugary snacks
- Trans fats or anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil
Foods That Boost Emotional Wellbeing
- Fatty fish rich in Omega-3’s such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts
- Fresh fruit such as blueberries, paw paw, papaya, coconuts, strawberries or bananas
Self-Care For Emotional Wellbeing
The activities you engage in, and the daily choices you make, affect the way you feel and how much you’re able to help yourself. These choices, in turn, affect those around you. Investing in self-care is as much about caring for others as it is for yourself.
Only when you feel healthy and happy can you be your smartest, most creative, and most caring self.
Activities To Pursue For Self-Care Emotional Wellbeing
- Sleep. It is essential to good emotional health and wellbeing to get enough sleep. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Sunlight. Sunlight lifts the mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes per day.
- Enjoy the beauty of nature or art. 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, or sitting on a beach.
- Have fun. Do things that are fun for you to do. Do things for the pure fun of it. Go for a walk on the beach, read a good book, go to the movies, go to coffee with a friend, gardening, drawing, playing an instrument, go to the theatre or talk to a friend. Fun and play is a necessity for emotional health.
Researchers have found a link with gratitude and wellbeing. Gratitude helps you see your situation in a way that can open your thinking to new solutions. Lao Tzu said, “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Gratitude makes us happier. Live in a state of gratitude this will have a major impact on your emotional wellbeing.
Activities To Pursue For Gratitude Emotional Wellbeing
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write 3-5 things you are especially grateful for each day.
- Look at all the blessings in your life. Count your blessings. You can certainly increase your happiness by focusing on the positive,
- Say “Thank You”. Give thanks to what you have in your life. Just start saying it. For everything. Everyone likes to be thanked, and you will feel more joy just for saying it.
- Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
- Acknowledge one ungrateful thought per day and then replace it with a grateful one.
- Express gratitude directly to another.
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