People who have good emotional health are those who maintain a harmony between what they think, what they feel and what they do. They are people who feel good about themselves and establish positive relationships with their environment.
Such a relational capacity to establish and maintain good bonds with others is of the utmost importance in determining the degree of psychological health that someone enjoys. In fact, for the psychologist Abraham Maslow, who is one of the founders of the humanist current, “the psychologically ill person is one who has never had enough good relations with others”.
A good emotional health is expressed in that the person does not let himself be taken away by his emotions, those psychophysiological responses to certain stimuli that, once elaborated, become feelings.
Therefore, emotions come to be like discharges that happen in a short space of time and that are going to give rise to feelings, in the elaboration of which other ingredients such as the will, forgiveness, experience, etc. of the person enter to temper that first psychophysiological reaction. So emotionally healthy people do not lose control over their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Emotions (anger, rage, etc.) that are very intense and overwhelming can provoke strong feelings of hatred, sadness, anxiety, which in turn affect our thoughts and behaviors. So these impetuous feelings end up coloring our whole vision of the world and our way of being in it.
Besides, our body reacts according to the way we feel, think and act. For example, suppose we have a work or affective problem that makes us feel very stressed, anxious, angry or sad. If such feelings intensify excessively and last a long time, it is very likely that our body will react and generate what is called “the stress response”. In this way, the appearance of a cold sore, migraines, a high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer is often the consequence of experiencing strong stress. This is explainable by the intimate connection between body and mind.
The emotions affect our physical health
In very stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one, our immune system weakens and our defenses decrease, making it easier for us to be more prone to flu, colds, infectious diseases, etc. Likewise, our cardiovascular system is affected by an increase in blood pressure, which can translate into an increase in our risk of suffering from coronary ailment. At the same time, because of our emotional problems, our gastrointestinal system is going to secrete more gastric acids, which is likely to lead to digestive problems which, if chronicled, can lead to reflux, gastritis, ulcers, etc.
On the other hand, these emotions are also intimately related to our lifestyle. Continuing with the previous example, when we are immersed in a situation in which we feel very stressed (a divorce, a dismissal, etc.) it is very frequent that we incur in unhealthy habits. For instance, nervousness can lead us to smoke more cigarettes, binge eating or consume more alcoholic beverages to calm anxiety, stop exercising regularly because we do not feel like it, drink more cups of coffee than is advisable, and so on. These poor habits, along with other factors that accompany stress such as insomnia and an out of balance diet, also end up making a dent in our physical health.
Emotional health and resilience
The emotional health has to do with the capacity of the person to overcome the destabilizing adversities of life and to resist the daily pressures. As several psychological studies have shown, it is not so much the negative events themselves that produce psychological disorders as our way of assuming and facing problems. This is not what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us makes the difference. Thus, people who have suffered similar stressful events react very differently. While some people feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, others manage to control them and, even in negative situations, they manage to emerge strengthened, with more self-confidence.
Enhancing Our Emotional Health
# 1.- Recognizing our emotions
First and foremost, recognize what we feel and understand why we feel it. Deciphering the causes of our sadness or anger is essential so that we can then manage properly what conditions our mood.
# 2.- Do not repress your feelings
If we are jealous, for instance, it would be a bad idea to hide it and act as if it were not with us. Eventually this feeling will come to light, perhaps at the most inopportune moment; and if it has been repressed, it is likely to show its face with disproportionate virulence. If we become stressed or anxious and we hide it inside without sharing it with anyone, it can make us feel much worse. It is better to share our concerns with a person who knows how to listen, with someone you trust.
If we do not have a friendly ear to be sincere with, there is always the recourse to seek the help of a professional. However, you should never let your feelings rot inside of you, because that ends up affecting your mental and physical wellness.
# 3.- Learning to express one’ s feelings properly
If some of the attitudes of our loved ones are making us feel bad, the logical thing is to let these people know, but in an appropriate way. In other words, we must be assertive, we must stop beating about the bush and express how we feel and what is bothering us, but we must never be aggressive with the other person, because then any possibility of dialogue is impossible.
# 4.- Put problems into perspective
There is never any point in suffering from the small setbacks of everyday life such as traffic jams. Nor is it worth discussing the issues that often lead to confrontations: politics, football…
However, even real problems should not be oversized. They must be given the value they have, but with a few exceptions they should not nullify our life. As an example, one should not become obsessed with work problems. Work is not our life. While this is an important area, it is not the only one. We have other areas such as family, friends, our hobbies, which we must also take care of and enjoy.
While there may be problems in some area of our lives, we must also learn to focus on the positive things we have. We will always see the half empty bottle if we let ourselves be taken by negative feelings, but we will be happier if we get used to seeing it half full.
# 5.- Focusing on solutions
Problems are part of anyone’s life, but also the search for solutions. Overcoming the difficulties is closely linked to our development and growth as a person. In order to solve problems the best thing is to adopt a proactive attitude, which means to take the initiative and to act creatively trusting in ourselves. In this way, emotional health is directly related to optimism, self-esteem and the ability to find imaginative solutions to problems.
# 6.- Boost positive relationships
When the problems are shared, they ‘weigh’ much less. For this reason, it is very beneficial for the person to cultivate social and family relationships.
Being part of a bonded network is always easier to resist life’s adversities than being isolated.
# 7.- Keeping a well-balanced life
To have good emotional health it is important to eat healthy, maintain proper rest habits and exercise regularly.
Routine sport generates endorphins, the “happiness hormones”, and relieves accumulated tensions. Also, if it is a collective sport, its practice can be an excellent school of coexistence and close human relations with the members of your team.
For a healthy and balanced diet is necessary to be varied and light. We must therefore avoid heavy meals and overeating, as well as the abuse of alcoholic beverages.
In order to rest properly, we need to get used to going to bed at a certain time to get enough sleep, not watching television programs that cause tension shortly before going to bed and not exceed with exciting drinks or alcohol.
# 8.- Learning to chill out
Good emotional health is evidenced by the ability to face life with tranquility. It is necessary to learn to relax. The practice of disciplines such as yoga, swimming, Zen meditation can help us in this… We need to rely on some of these activities to balance our body, calm our mind and manage our emotions.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]To sum up, proper emotional health care is directly linked to the development of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, with the capacity to establish and maintain positive and lasting relationships with others, with the desire to always be willing to learn, with the flexibility of mind to adapt to change, with an optimistic outlook and the tendency to know how to value what one has and to preserve the desire to laugh and enjoy life in spite of all adversities.