When you’re feeling blue or just need to feel a little refreshed, checking on your emotional health can be a great way to start feeling like yourself again. While exercise and nutrition are both critical for maintaining overall health, emotional and mental health often go overlooked. Considering your emotional health can be confusing or intimidating if you haven’t paid attention to it before, but no need to worry! We’ve gathered some simple tips and tricks to help you stay mindful of your emotions without overthinking it—and no, it’s not just meditation.
So, grab your earbuds! Today’s episode of the Gwinnett Podcast is full of evidence-based explanations and simple life hacks to help you keep your emotional health in check.
Today, we’re discussing emotional health and why it is key to thriving in everyday life. It turns out that feeling better emotionally is linked to physical health. Underlying beliefs and blocked emotions can lead to imbalances and instability in the body that, over time, may create serious disease states or lead to a deterioration in overall physical functioning. More and more, the research points to emotional wellbeing as a key indicator of overall physical health. Repressed emotion, in particular, has been shown to have a detrimental effect on health.
New research is helping to identify more specifically how emotions and the body are connected. One study by the National Academy of Sciences used a body mapping tool to have individuals who experienced particular emotions, such as fear or sadness, track related body sensations. Such research helps back up conventional language, such as describing someone about to get married as having “cold feet” or describing a “shiver down the spine” when we hear a favorite piece of music.
ln addition to the long-range effects of emotional expression, or the lack thereof, on physical wellbeing, our emotional response also affects health in the short-term, day-to-day and even in the moment. The busier we get, the more prone we become to succumbing to subconscious and reactive behavior patterns that often spring from real-life triggers to buried emotional pain. The amygdala, that upstart and highly reactive part of our brain, helps us with emotional processing, but if left unchecked its impulses can lead us to less-than-ideal and highly reactive modes of coping with situations.
Developing new neural pathways and replacing bad habits with good ones are two keys to better emotional health. Neural plasticity, the study of malleable areas of the brain, has shown that training your brain is easier than we once believed. Repetition and positive enforcement are tried and true approaches to strengthening desired health habits. When accompanied by visualization and meditation, these practices can create new pathways for more supportive emotional responses.
When it comes to emotional wellbeing, start where you are. First, become more aware of how and when you are expressing your emotions, particularly in situations that are stress-inducing for you. Then, identify helpful responses and those more reactive, far less beneficial and sometimes even dangerous coping mechanisms. Where needed, seek outside assistance from a physician, mental health professional or other practitioner. You might also consider employing tech-savvy solutions from mobile apps to track your emotions to better understand where improvements are needed.
Here are other top considerations for a healthier emotional life in the years ahead:
Check in on how good you feel about yourself.
Do you see yourself as happy and thriving or are you caught up in seIf-criticism or have a poor self-image?
Check your mood.
Are you sad and angry all the time or are you generally upbeat and positive? Can you easily find things to be grateful for each day or do you feel weighed down by life?
Check your bounce-back factor.
How resilient you are is a good indicator of emotional health. Defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened,” resilience is connected to how quickly we recover from an unexpected event. How focused and flexible are you, regardless of what’s happening in your outer world or society at large? How quickly do you make needed adjustments?
Check your comfort level with change.
Change is an inevitable occurrence in any life. How adaptable are you? Do you cope well with change or have go-to practices when so much is changing at once or do you find yourself experiencing a sinking feeling every time something shifts in your outer environment?
Check your self care practices.
How consistent are you about routine and regular practices that support your health and happiness? Do you put yourself first, last or somewhere in between?
Check your expression.
Do you have healthy ways to process and express emotions? Journaling is a great go-to practice and there are some safe, simple ways to process on-the-go with journaling phone apps. Creative expression of any kind will help with processing emotion, so get out that sketchbook or move your body to release those toxins.