In the first article in this series, “The Connection Between Emotional Health and Physical Health: An Overview”, we looked at what happens to our bodies when we don’t manage our stress well, or don’t get sufficient sleep.
In this article, we will examine the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between physical and emotional health. We will discover that this connection goes beyond being grumpy due to sleep deprivation, right to the cells in our bodies that will tell us—and our family physicians—when stress is winning the battle over our minds and bodies.
Mental Health More than Lack of Depression and Stress
“Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics” (www.helpguide.org).
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean never experiencing anything stressful. It means being able to handle those stressful situations effectively. It comes from the reality that things, people, and situations need to be addressed as they come up in a healthy and positive light—the proverbial “silver lining”.
It also means knowing what kinds of situations—lack of sleep, hormones, lack of meditation or quiet time or prayer (whatever you do to de-stress and decompress), or lack of chocolate—may lead to an emotional response to which you wouldn’t normally give in. It means being able to deal with these unpleasant situations in such a way that you remain focused in your job and family, and flexible when life happens, without falling into depression, anxiety or other negative mood states.
*NOTE: If you’re one that suffers from clinical or chronic depression or another mental illness, this presents a completely different set of biological issues where medication may be needed to help maintain this balance.)