Contemporary life is infused with numerous challenges. We constantly grapple with a multitude of pressures, be it familial, societal, or economic. In such a scenario, emotional health – our capacity to manage these pressures healthily – becomes paramount. It is the linchpin that holds our overall well-being together. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into how emotional health is a person’s ability to express feelings appropriately, the importance of emotional health, its differentiation from mental health, and ways to bolster it to lead a more fulfilling life.
Emotional Health is a Person’s Ability to Express Feelings Appropriately
At its core, emotional health is a person’s ability to express feelings appropriately. It is the capacity to steer your thoughts, feelings, and emotions through the highs and lows of life. An emotionally healthy individual is not a stranger to their emotions. Instead, they are equipped with strategies to handle routine situations and traumatic experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, job loss, or divorce effectively.
The Significance of Emotional Health
Emotionally healthy individuals typically have control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They can navigate life’s obstacles and recover from setbacks. It’s important to note that emotional health doesn’t imply the absence of negative emotions such as sadness or anger.
Emotional health is pivotal in fostering resilience, self-awareness, and a holistic sense of well-being. It also influences how we interact with others, our receptivity to feedback and criticism, how we guide others, and our perception and interpretation of others’ actions.
The capacity to maintain sound emotional health is vital for success and growth in our professional and personal realms. Especially in today’s unpredictable work environment, being able to regulate our emotions and control our response to challenging situations is crucial. Additionally, we inevitably encounter challenges in our personal lives, making it essential to develop skills to manage both positive and negative emotions effectively.
Mental Health vs Emotional Health: The Difference
- The Broader Reach of Mental Health
Mental health has a broader scope than emotional health. As per the CDC, mental health envelops our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s not merely the absence of mental illness. The World Health Organization defines good mental health as a state wherein an individual realizes their potential, can cope with the regular stresses of life and can work productively. Mental health, like physical health, is closely associated with our productive and smooth engagement with the world over time without causing distress. From this definition, it’s evident that emotional health is a significant contributor to overall mental health.
- Processing Information vs Expressing Emotion
While emotional health and well-being revolve around how well we manage our emotions and their impact on us and the people around us, mental health also involves our engagement with others and our ability to process and understand information.
The distinction between an individual’s emotional reaction and their mental health can be understood through an example. Suppose a person loses their job. They may feel angry, betrayed, or afraid. A person with poor emotional health might succumb to their emotions and react negatively, leading to a downward spiral of further difficult situations and painful emotions.
On the other hand, an individual with sound emotional health might experience the same feelings but can recognize and acknowledge these feelings without letting them spiral out of control. Their understanding and processing of the facts and timelines remain consistent in both scenarios. However, their mental health might cause them to interpret the situa of losing their job differently.
- Emotional Health Doesn’t Equal Mental Health
Even though emotional health is a person’s ability to express feelings appropriately, it does not mean their mental health is well. A key difference between emotional and mental health is that a person can have good emotional health but still struggle with mental health or encounter mental health problems. For instance, a person may lack the energy to work yet still be able to use emotional health strategies to get through the day. However, their lack of energy may be a red flag for a deeper mental health issue requiring further attention.
Symptoms of Struggling with Emotional Health
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. However, the better we feel, the more effectively we can handle our stress. If you’re experiencing any of the following, it could indicate that you’re grappling with emotional problems:
- Feeling drained or possessing less energy than usual
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Suffering performance at work
- Struggling with personal hygiene and health
- Eating too much or too little
- Experiencing frequent anxiety or irritation with loved ones
- Having physical symptoms of stress, like high blood pressure or heart palpitations
- Affected confidence or self-esteem
Traits of an Emotionally Healthy Person
An emotionally healthy person is self-aware. They perceive themselves accurately and understand how their behavior is perceived by others. They have the ability to evaluate their actions from an outsider’s perspective.
- Emotional Agility
Emotional agility refers to an individual’s ability to deal with stressors and discomfort in work and life. Emotionally agile people draw insights from their feelings and use them to adapt, align, and perform at their best. They do not ignore or repress their emotions; instead, they accept them with an open mind.
- Strong Coping Skills
Emotionally healthy individuals have strong coping skills to help them in testing and trying circumstances. These may include practicing meditation and relaxation techniques, finding time for hobbies, and more.
- Living with Purpose
Purpose varies for different people, and our sense of purpose often intertwines with the goals we set for ourselves. Emotionally healthy people have a clear sense of purpose that guides their actions and decisions.
- Effective Stress Management
Facing stress is a certainty for everyone, but emotionally healthy people have successful strategies they can rely on to manage their stress levels.
Enhancing Emotional Health
- Cultivating a Positive Mindset
While positive circumstances may not always be in our control, it is always possible to cultivate a positive mindset. Daily habits like scanning and noticing three new things we’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row, maintaining an exercise regime, meditating for a few minutes every day, and journaling about a positive experience can have a positive impact on our perception of the world.
Smiling has been proven to make us happier. A simple smile can have a small, yet significant, impact on our feelings.
- Seek or Accept Help and Support from Others
Seeking help from a qualified professional, a friend, or a family member can make a world of difference when going through a difficult time.
- Practice Gratitude
Being grateful shifts your mindset from wanting more to being thankful for what you have. Cultivating a mindset of gratitude can be done through small daily acts like starting a gratitude journal, showing humility, spending quality time with loved ones, and committing to a complaint-free day.
Being curious about your own mind is a way to start interacting with your own emotional wellbeing.
- Sharing Feelings
Having someone to confide in can be a massive benefit to your emotional health. Sharing your feelings can help give you clarity on what you’re experiencing, while also providing a support system.
Real-World Examples of Emotional Health
Let’s explore a couple of real-world examples to better understand how emotional health plays out in everyday situations:
Example #1. The Busy ICU Nurse
Julie, an experienced ICU nurse, has been working 60-hour weeks due to increased demands on her unit. Despite her hectic schedule, Julie has developed strategies to manage her stress. These include journaling each day, noting down three things she’s grateful for each day, making time every Saturday morning to meet up with friends at a local community dog walking event, and regularly going to the gym and visiting her physiotherapist once a month.
Example #2. The Customer Service Manager
John, a busy customer service manager, has a hectic work schedule. Despite his busy schedule, John uses specific techniques to manage his emotional health. These include practicing self-talk, attending church every Sunday, and ensuring he’s home by 6 pm to spend quality time with his family.
Talking about emotional wellbeing can be intimidating, yet it is something that everyone deals with. It is just as important as physical health and requires proper care. To keep your emotions in check, make sure you get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Additionally, draw strength from your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if you need help. Developing the ability to manage thoughts, and emotions in the face of stress is a skill that is hugely beneficial in all relationships.