Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health

Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health

Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are 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 does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are 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 and be happier.

Path to improved well being

Emotional health is an important part of your life. It allows you to realize your full potential. You can work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society.

It also 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 and at work or school.
  • Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
  • Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation 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. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers.
  • Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what it is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your 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 emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause. This could be a chemical imbalance in the 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 family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?
  • Would medicine help me be able to 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?

Resources

National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mental Health

National Institute of Mental Health

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