Since a healthy mind is the key to a healthy body, it is vital to pay as much attention to your emotional well being on a day-to-day basis, as it is keeping yourself hydrated or your teeth brushed every morning.
In “The Connection between Emotional Health and Overall Health: An Overview”, we were introduced—or perhaps reintroduced—to the concept that whatever affects our minds can have a detrimental affect on our bodies over time. In “Balance Crucial to Emotional and Physical Health”, we examined the science behind this connection and how stress levels, and the corresponding effects on the body can be measured and monitored, and how important it is to maintain good emotional health habits all the time.
In this article, we will provide you a simple, step-by-step emotional health plan that will help keep you mentally and physically healthy.
The 5-Piece Emotional Health Puzzle
Sabitri Ghosh’s article “The Emotional Piece of the Health Puzzle” on www.alive.com asserts that there are five key components to emotional health:
1) “Being aware of your emotions. Emotionally healthy people are in touch with their emotions and can identify and acknowledge them as experience.
2) Being able to process your emotions. After connecting with their emotions, emotionally healthy people develop appropriate ways of expressing them.
3) Being sensitive to other people and their emotions and having the ability to empathize. The ability to identify their own emotions enables emotionally healthy people to identify emotions in others and to have an intuitive sense of what it feels like to experience them.
4) Being self-empowered. Emotionally healthy people honor their emotions, which empowers them to fulfill their goals.
5) Being in healthy relationships. Using their emotional intelligence and empathy, emotionally healthy people build and maintain strong functioning relationships.”
Emotionally healthy people have:
- “a sense of contentment
- a zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun
- the ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity
- a sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships
- the flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change
- a balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
- the ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships
- self-confidence and high self-esteem” (www.helpguide.org)
10 Components of A Good Emotional Health Plan
As with physical health there are things you can do to maintain good emotional health:
1) Keep yourself in good physical health by maintaining a healthy diet, physical exercise (doesn’t necessarily have to be structured—gardening works) and get enough sleep.
2) Learn to let go. As the adage says, “Life’s too short to hold grudges.” And it’s true. It is also true that holding grudges can cut your life short by overtaxing the heart, your emotional balance and, as we’ve seen above, compromising your body’s overall ability to biologically manage.
3) Learn from every experience. The old saying, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” rings true here. Those that learn to find the positives in things or learn how to turn a negative experience into a positive one for dealing with life in the future will keep themselves emotionally healthy.
4) Stay busy…but not too busy. Your mind needs to be stimulated by learning new things and taking on challenges, sometimes something as simple as a crossword puzzle can provide our minds a release from dealing with other harsher realities. Do not be afraid to say “no”. So often we say, yes, yes, yes or schedule our kids into activities that we never had ourselves, without remembering that we need down time too. Being active is good, but as with everything, only in moderation.
5) Find activities that lift your spirits. “…Researchers at Duke University determined that people who followed a religion tended to have stronger immune systems than non-followers and were less prone to depression and high blood pressure…[through] an enhanced sense of well-being and…reduce[d] levels of stress” (www.alive.com). But religion is only one way. Listening to music, visiting an art gallery, trying new foods or treating yourself to a favorite are also ways of picking you up.
6) Have fun – says it all.
7) Maintain a support system. This can be face-to-face or online with the right people. As with everything, there needs to be a balance. Do not sacrifice face-to-face friends for your computer screen. Having a variety of friends at a variety of life and age stages can help provide feedback and objectivity to your life’s circumstances.
8) Give to others – Give of your time and money. If you can’t do that, give your clothes and household items to the Salvation Army, GoodWill or other charity. Giving does the heart a world of good. You never know how your gift will affect another person’s life.
9) Learn to relax. Establishing a down time and even better a down time routine is key to ensuring your mind does not become overwhelmed with everything—prayer, meditation, reading a book, watching a movie, going for a walk, berry picking, bird watching….
10) Learn to appreciate “the now”. The birds that greet you in the morning. The sunshine, which is still there behind the clouds. A child’s laughter. A patch of flowers. A blue jay on your birdfeeder. Your mobility and freedom. Don’t take anything for granted. Learn to look at everything as a gift and treat it as such.
Sources: www.alive.com; www.shepellfgi.com; www.helpguide.org; www.heartmath.org; www.phac-aspc.gc.ca (Public Health Agency of Canada); www.ThePsychologist.com; www.everydayhealth.com; www.essentiallifeskills.net; www.dictionary.com