Individuals who are emotionally healthy have an awareness of their own feelings, good or bad, and are able to cope with stressors which might affect their thoughts or behaviors. Various circumstances in life can impact emotional health and trigger stress, anxiety, or depression. Change, whether it is considered “good” (marriage or a baby) or “bad” (illness or financial problems), can be equally stressful and affect a person’s physical health.
Defining Positive and Negative
Thoughts and emotions are very subjective. As much as humans differ, so can their thoughts, feelings, and responses to situations. Some individuals might be extremely upset by their boss yelling at them, while others might not let it bother them at all. Our bodies are affected by how we choose to react to certain circumstances, more than by the circumstances themselves. So, rather than concern ourselves with what others might consider to be negative, we can take control over our own health by determining what we find to be negative—and then responding in a healthy manner.
The Mind-Body Connection
As much as western medicine might like to separate the effect of the mind on the body, links have been shown between emotional health and physical health. For instance, a long bout of depression can lead to a decrease in immune system function which can allow various types of viruses and bacteria to invade the body. Other studies have shown that people who display “hostility” may be much more likely to have a heart attack, experience poor health, and live a shorter life span.
How to Improve Emotional Health
Since we know that negative emotions and thoughts can have an impact on the physical health, we can choose to fight for our health by counteracting the negative emotions and thoughts with positive ones. Striving for emotional health will have a positive effect on our physical health as well. Here are some tips for promotion positive thoughts and emotions:
Rather than bottling up negative emotions until you explode, try to find a healthy environment in which you can express your feelings and talk about what is bothering you. A counselor, religious director, or other supporter can make a huge difference in the way your negative experiences impact you.
Strive for Balance
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes we maintain a pace that is completely impossible to keep over the long term. Often work will tend to take over, and there’s no time to rest and relax. Eventually this type of imbalance will begin to degrade your health. Try spending time on a hobby you enjoy, go out with friends, take an art class, or get outdoors for a change of pace.
Keep a Journal
Sometimes people simply need a place to process their feelings. Keeping a journal allows us to process, as well as to record various positive things that are happening. This can serve as a positive reminder when we are difficult situation or struggle.
Learn to Relax
Finding ways to de-stress is critical for living a positive life. Meditation and other methods of relaxation can be extremely helpful in promoting positive feelings which, in turn, promote physical health.
Just participating in some of the above activities can release positive chemicals into your brain, give you a boost, and help you to promote positive health in the emotional realm. Those who are attentive to their emotional health, as well as the physical, will find themselves to be well-rounded and are likely to be much healthier in all of the aspects of their lives.