How to Improve Emotional Health & Combat Anxiety and Overwhelm
Because emotions are a necessary part of life and overall well-being, it’s important to know how to improve emotional health.
Just as peak physical health requires our attention and routine evaluation, so does our emotional health.
In part, your emotional state helps determine how you react to life events. Left unattended, emotions can run rampant. Overwhelm easily creates stress, which can escalate into mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
If you have experienced any of these, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by anxiety disorders every year. This makes anxiety disorders the most common mental illness in the United States. And, of those diagnosed with anxiety disorders, close to half also experience depression.
These statistics are fact enough of the importance of keeping your emotional health in check.
As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression since an early age, I have become increasingly interested in how to achieve and maintain a positive state of emotional health to prevent mental health issues and avoid prescription drugs.
When life gets hard and we find it difficult to manage, how to improve emotional health is the question we should ask ourselves first. Being equipped with a positive outlook and being emotionally healthy makes navigating the difficult times much easier.
Understanding Emotional Health
In order to learn how to improve your emotional health, first you need to understand what it is and how it affects your overall well-being.
What Is Emotional Health?
When talking about emotional health, many people use the term interchangeably with mental health. In fact, the two terms are not the same at all. However, they are closely related.
Mental health is made up of 3 categories: psychological health – our thought process, behavioral health – how we act or react, and emotional health – our feelings. Our mood, actions, and problem-solving abilities (logical thinking) are all affected.
So as you can see, emotional health is a part of our overall mental health. It’s about 33% responsible for our mental health status.
What it Means to be Emotionally Healthy
Emotionally healthy people are considered to be content and satisfied with life. They are capable of creating meaningful relationships and are able to remain in control of their emotions and actions in difficult situations.
This doesn’t mean you don’t experience overwhelm or stress, and it doesn’t mean you are in a happy mood all the time. It means you can process negative emotions without losing composure. You allow yourself to think through the situation before reacting.
In fact, allowing yourself to experience negative emotions without trying to cover them up or pretend you don’t feel them, is necessary for your emotional wellness.
I am all too familiar with what it’s like to hold negative feelings in until you’re in a high-stress situation. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Your heart starts pounding, thoughts are racing through your mind, and all the negative emotions you have felt come rushing back. The next thing you know, you’ve said the worst thing imaginable. All you have done is escalate the situation and display lack of self-control.
This is a great example of why it’s important to understand what it takes to improve and maintain your emotional health.
How to Improve Emotional Health
Now that you have a better understanding of emotional health, here are some things you can do to stay emotionally healthy and achieve better mental health.
7 Activities You Can Do to Improve Your Emotional Health
By practicing these activities regularly, you can maintain good emotional health. And, because your emotional health directly affects your mental health status, you could potentially reduce symptoms of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. Boost your mood and increase happiness with these 7 activities.
When you want to evaluate or understand your emotional health, mindfulness is a great place to start. Mindfulness, put simply, is being aware in the moment.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in checking off the next task on our to-do list. We’re constantly on the go causing us to be unaware of our actions and how they affect those around us.
By slowing down and looking up at the world around us, we can acknowledge our behavior, return the smile from a neighbor, and actually feel seen. By paying attention and being present in the moment, you can increase your emotional awareness and adjust your actions to match your feelings.
Read Self-help Books
Self-help, or self-improvement, books are a great way to open your mind to new ways of thinking. They give you the opportunity to see things from another perspective by using personal stories of others who have been through and overcome difficult times. Many also discuss the importance of positive psychology and how to use it to your advantage.
The very first self-improvement book I read, which jump-started my personal development journey, was The Success Principles. This book is filled with stories of real people who created their own meaning of success. It’s empowering to know others have been in similar situations and powered through to end up on top.
Read my personal review of The Success Principles here, and find out how it helped me through a difficult time.
Talk About Your Feelings
As mentioned before, it’s completely normal to have negative emotions. However, they can become a problem when you hold them in or try to avoid them altogether.
If you’re having a tough time processing or understanding your feelings, call a friend and vent. I do recommend giving them a heads up before diving in, though. Make sure they know your emotional state and you need someone to listen and possibly offer an opinion.
Talking through your feelings with someone you trust will allow you to be better equipped with what to say when a trying situation arises.
Also, if a situation arises that you’re not comfortable with, it’s a good idea to explain your feelings and viewpoint to those involved. You don’t have to explain in that exact moment, especially if you’re upset. Think about it for a while and decide how you want your thoughts and feelings to be perceived.
If negative thoughts are something you deal with on a regular basis, this post has great tips on how to overcome them.
Use a Daily Journal
If you want to see a real shift in your mindset, be more positive and gain control of your emotional health, you have to be intentional in the things you do.
Psychologists and life coaches encourage journaling to increase self-awareness and as a way to express your feelings freely. It’s the same concept of the diary you might have had as a child or young adult. It feels good to get it all out without fear of judgement. It helps you cope and better understand your feelings.
After journaling consistently for a while, you will be able to look back and see the changes in your mood, thoughts, and feelings creating greater self-awareness.
Limit Time on Social Media
In this day in time, where we have the answer to most questions at our fingertips and immediate text response, it’s easy to be distracted by technology.
It’s true that technology has increased productivity and saved lives. However, spending too much time on social media takes away from personal contact and meaningful communication.
According to this article, “Being overly connected can cause psychological issues such as distraction, narcissism, expectation of instant gratification, and even depression.”
So instead of picking up the phone and scrolling Facebook or Instagram, choose to do something that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. Read that self-improvement book, go for a swim or a walk at the park, or just relax. You might be surprised by the boost in mood.
Get Adequate Sleep
It should be no surprise that getting enough sleep is on the list.
Lack of sleep can cause irritability, lack of focus and loss of ability to think and process information clearly. In other words, decreased brain power from lack of sleep makes you vulnerable and emotionally unstable.
In order to get a good night’s sleep, make your room dark, quiet and comfortable. Also, everyone needs a different amount of sleep to feel energized and refreshed. Try out different lengths of time to see what works best for you. And create your own bedtime routine where you go to bed and wake at the same time each day.
Build Personal Relationships
Building personal relationships is also a great way to improve emotional health. As humans, we crave personal connection. People want to feel relatable and understood. We want to share our life experiences and thoughts with like-minded individuals.
Having strong personal relationships allows us to express our emotions without fear of judgement. We are more likely to experience happiness, satisfaction and contentment when we have someone to share life with.
Taking Care of Your Emotional Health
As you can see, improving and maintaining emotional health takes effort and ongoing evaluation of your thoughts and feelings.
Now that you know the facts and how to improve emotional health, you have two options. You can…
1 – go on living life as usual with feelings all over the place and no focus on building a positive mindset
2 – use the information you’ve learned here to start taking better care of your emotional health to live a happier, more content life.
I hope you choose to take care of yourself and tend to your emotional needs. Use these activities to get to know yourself inside out, so you can be happier and stay emotionally healthy.
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