If there was a way to escape having any feelings, you probably wouldn’t go there because it would mean that you’d be unable to feel love, happiness, joy... Good, pleasant emotions. But the problem with the emotions is they’re not all pleasant, are they?
So fear, sadness, anger... – they all come with the package. And it’s a good thing they do, they help us deepen our life experience, they make us learn and grow.
But these emotions aren’t what life should be about.
And yet, we get stuck in those more often than we’d like. We get stuck in depression or stress, in anger, in hurt, in perpetual guilt or shame. We know it’s not healthy, but we still do it.
And we don’t have to... There’s an easier way.
What’s emotional health and how it benefits us
We can’t not feel. We’re humans, and we shouldn’t not feel. But most of us need to learn to feel properly, in a healthy, beneficial, supporting way, to express our emotions appropriately and to let them go.
Simply put, emotional health is just a term to describe how you feel and how you deal with your emotions.
If your overall sense of happiness and well-being is often undermined by stress, feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, worry, anxiety... then your emotional health needs some serious attention.
Here’s something that can help you determine the shape of your emotional health:
- Are you feeling good about yourself, not suffering from self-esteem issues?
- Do you believe there’s a good balance to your life – your leisure time, activities and work?
- Are you able to accept changes and go with the flow?
- Are your relationships with the people important to you OK?
- Do you believe there’s a purpose to your life?
If you had trouble giving even a mild yes to any of these, it’s time for you to stop and take a bit more care of yourself.
Feel it, express it and then shake it off!
For most people, emotional unbalance comes as a result of either:
- Obsessing over something and spiraling themselves down into the dysfunctional emotions
- Not taking the time to properly address their emotions, not acknowledging them and not giving them time to heal
And while there are some significant differences between how you should deal with each, there are a few things that practically anyone can do to improve the state of their emotional well-being:
Acknowledge what you feel.
There are no good or bad emotions – we get angry, we get jealous, we get envious. We feel something, and it’s OK. The trick is to be clear about it, not to hide from it or sweep it under the rug. Give it a name for starters, and allow yourself to feel it. It really is OK.
Try to understand why you feel the way you do.
This requires some emotional intelligence (something else we haven’t been taught in school) but it’s well worth exploring and learning. For example, if you notice that you overreacted, or that you’re overly hurt by some situations, it’s good to explore whether there’s something in your past that could have triggered that response, some pain you haven’t healed. Going back and understanding that will help you deal with similar situations more appropriately – and to feel less and less disturbed by them.
Exercise and spend some time in the sun.
What makes your physical body feels good, also influences your emotional and mental bodies. Besides, this is a strong message to your subconscious that you’re willing to do something good for yourself, that you care for and love yourself .
If it involves other people, let them know how you feel.
Books have been written about healthy ways to express your feelings, but this simple trick can work in most cases: express yourself without judging them, rise above it and address only the reaction that made you hurt, not the person. Trust me, both of you will feel better if you handle the conflicts this way.
When you’re ready, let the emotion go.
When you understand what triggered it, you have learned all there was to learn from that particular emotion. There’s no need to keep feeding it in your mind – let it go. Your life is about so many more things, so turn to them, and make a place in your heart and life for the feelings which are more pleasant and uplifting.
True, if you’re new to all this emotional exploration, it may be hard work at first. But trust me, it pays off in the long run!