Emotional health is an important part of your overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They’re able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. It means you’re aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they’re positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness, but they know how to manage their negative feelings. They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor.
Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health.
Path to improved health
Emotional health allows you to work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It can help you realize your full potential. It also helps you communicate with other people and contribute to society.
Your emotional health affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight.
There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health:
- Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
- Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships at home, work, or school.
- Think before you act. Give yourself time to think and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
- Manage stress. Learn methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
- Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play, and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
- Take care of your physical health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Try to keep your physical health from affecting your emotional health.
- Connect with others. Make a lunch date, join a new group, or say hi to strangers. We need positive connections with other people.
- Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what’s important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family or friends, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend time doing what feels meaningful to you.
- Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.
Things to consider
People who have good emotional health can still have problems. Mental illness often has an emotional and physical cause. There could be a chemical imbalance in your brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can trigger mental illness or make it worse.
Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your doctor right away. They can help you find the right type of treatment.
Questions for your doctor
- What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?
- Are there medicines that could help me cope better?
- Should I see a therapist or counselor?
- How does my physical health affect my emotional health?
- What stress management techniques would work best for me?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.