Looking after your emotional health
Accredited therapist Elizabeth Doggart suggests ways to maintain emotional health and build emotional resilience
Emotional health is just as important as physical health. Indeed the two can’t really be separated. If you are emotionally healthy you are more likely to be in control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It’s hard enough to cope with life’s challenges, but more difficult if you feel completely overwhelmed.
A skill you can learn
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time or to ‘always look on the bright side of life’ as the song goes, especially when serious and distressing events occur in our lives. However, being aware of your emotions – such as fear, anger and sadness – and acknowledging that these feelings exist is a start to being able to deal with them. Emotional health is a skill. You can improve your emotional health and being able to do this is an important part of how you adapt and cope with difficulties and strengthen your own emotional resilience.
Increasing your emotional resilience is an important part of your life. It allows you to realise your strengths and ability to cope with pressure and the demands that life brings. Research shows a link between a positive mental state and physical signs of good health: these include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and a healthier weight.
Here are some ways to improve or maintain good emotional health and build emotional resilience.
- Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
- Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and in other areas of your life.
- Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
- Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
- Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
- Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Meet with friends, join a group and be with others.
- Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, your friends. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.
- Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.