Most people have no idea just how much their feelings influence their physical health and well-being. When your emotions run out of control, or you allow them to control your behaviors, it can lead to negative consequences for your body as well as your soul, so learning to care for your emotional health is a crucial life skill for overall improved health.
How do your emotions influence your health, exactly? Here are just a few examples.
- Allowing your emotions to control you can lead to, or worsen, mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Those with high levels of stress will experience elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Having high cortisol levels for extended periods leads to increases in inflammation, oxidative stress, and other processes that damage your body and can lead to disease.
- Cortisol also suppresses your immune system, which can make you more vulnerable to pathogens and other disease-causing agents.
- Being stressed, emotionally overwrought, or depressed can also affect your digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and many other critical functions of your body.
- Those who have difficulty expressing their emotions are much more likely to die from a stroke, cancer, or a heart attack than those with healthier emotional communication skills.
- Those with depression are much more likely to suffer aches and pains.
Caring for your emotional health, therefore, can help you live longer and healthier while also enjoying more happiness in life. Next, we will explore how positive emotions influence your body.
How Thinking Positively Makes Your Body Stronger
Now that you know all the ways that negative feelings can affect your health and body let’s look at how thinking positively and expressing positive emotions can improve your well-being, too.
Did you know, for example, that when you feel grateful, your body experiences improvements in your immune system, your blood pressure is reduced, and you heal faster? Love and other positive emotions trigger the release of oxytocin, which can relax your body and reduce the effects of stress.
Here are some other health benefits of having positive emotions.
- When you are relaxed, your body pumps oxygenated blood more efficiently, and you will feel more alert and better able to concentrate.
- When you are more positive, you are better able to cope with stressful events in your life.
- Positive emotions and the chemicals they release in your body, makes it more likely that your stress reaction will be less and that you will recover more quickly when stressful events occur.
- When you are more positive, you have stronger resiliency to see you through hard times.
- Those who have a positive mindset and strong emotional health are much more likely to make healthy choices in their lives, as well, which can significantly influence their health and well-being.
Now that we understand the impact that taking care of our emotional health has on our overall wellness, we will next explore how to get in touch with your feelings to help you experience all of those positive emotions each day.
Do You Know How You Feel?
Did you know that two out of three people cannot accurately assess their emotional state regularly? It turns out, we as humans are pretty bad at knowing precisely what we are feeling. And it is because all those emotions originate deep inside us where all our goals, dreams, and hopes live, too.
Understanding your emotions is vital to ensuring that all your most essential needs are met. When you become aware of your feelings, you can better process and handle them in ways that contribute to your emotional health and overall happiness.
And lacking emotional awareness means you are more likely to find unhealthy or unproductive ways of coping, which can lead to adverse health outcomes, problems in relationships, and trouble controlling your emotions.
Learning to identify your emotions is the first step, and it can be harder than you might think. You must dig deeper than just your gut reaction to determine the source of your feelings and what is happening deep within your mind.
When practicing emotional awareness, it is helpful to also pay attention to the physical responses your body has to various emotions. Learning to practice mindful meditation, deep breathing, or other awareness practices can help you become more conscious of your body and how your feelings influence it.
Once you know what you are feeling, you must then process those emotions so that you can move ahead healthily. Next, we’ll discuss an easy method for processing feelings that can help care for your emotional health.
Do You Know How to Process Your Emotions?
Most parents do not teach their children how to properly process their emotions, which means they grow into adults who really don’t know who to handle complicated feelings or handle stress. It, therefore, becomes crucial that you recognize this about yourself and start learning how to process how you feel more productively.
No matter your stage in life, it is crucial that you take the reins and become the master of your own emotions, learning how to process them effectively to respond to them appropriately.
There are only four simple steps for learning to process your feelings.
#1. The first is to learn to be mindful, which is a practice that teaches you to observe your thoughts and feelings. Learning mindfulness meditation can be extremely helpful for developing this skill.
#2. Next, you need to name your feelings accurately. Figuring out what your emotions are is crucial if you want to learn to process them.
#3. Thirdly, you must accept your emotions and stop trying to ignore or push them aside. Feel what you are feeling and accept that this is where you need to be right now. The more you resist, the harder it is to work through it.
#4. Last, you need to decide if your emotion requires action. Do you need to do something about how you are feeling, or is it enough to allow yourself to feel it and then move on?
Most of the time, we are scared to feel our feelings, which means you push them down or distract ourselves from them. But, when you don’t process negative emotions, it can have horrible consequences. We’ll talk more about those next.
What Happens When You Ignore Your Negative Emotions?
You probably have many tricks for avoiding your negative emotions. Do you spend a lot of time staring at your phone or playing games? Do you drink, take drugs, or engage in risky behaviors to avoid your feelings?
When you consistently choose to push your feelings aside rather than acknowledge and process them, you create pressure that will, at some point, need to be released.
When you ignore your feelings, they find a way to manifest themselves in other ways. Ignoring sadness, grief, anger, or regret creates tension in your body that becomes stress.
This stress builds up and causes physical symptoms. This damage can include:
- Difficulties with your digestive system
- Trouble sleepingElevated levels of anxiety that make it difficult for you to manage your daily activities
- Heart palpitation, high blood pressure, or irregular heartbeat
If you continue to ignore all these signs, you can expect some sort of release, like letting out the pressure on a pot, that will likely end in an emotional outburst that could harm you and well as other people.
When you have angry outbursts, are highly sensitive to minor disturbances, or spend a lot of time feeling upset or angry, your body is trying to tell you that you are ignoring your emotions.
By learning to acknowledge, understand, and appropriately act upon these feelings, we allow ourselves to work through them, which lowers the physical response and protects our minds and bodies from their negative influence.
Next, we’ll explore how being more mindful can protect your emotional well-being.
The Reasons You Need to Learn Mindfulness
The key to emotional health is self-awareness. Until you are aware of your emotions and how they are affecting you, you will never become the master of your feelings. Mindfulness is a strategy that can help you become more self-aware and better able to recognize and cope with your emotions.
What is mindfulness?
It is a psychological process that involves bringing your attention to what is happening to you in the present moment. You can become more mindful through meditation and other exercises that teach you to concentrate and pay attention to your body and your mind.
Becoming more mindful benefits your emotional health in many ways.
- It helps you to become more aware of your feelings, which means you can better identify them as well as their possible source or trigger.
- Being more mindful also keeps you more focused on the present, which eliminates dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Engaging in mindful meditation or using mindfulness practices can help you to gain control over your emotions and improve your emotional well-being.
Spending just ten minutes a day engaged in mindfulness training can improve your self-awareness and emotional regulation in only a few weeks. Start today by developing a mindfulness practice that works for you.
Journaling can be used as a part of mindfulness training, and we’ll explore this emotional health strategy next.
Five Reasons Why You Should be Keeping a Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to record your thoughts, to focus on your gratitude, and to release emotions rather than keep them bottled up. When you write about your feelings, it improves your mental health and allows you to reflect back on things later, it helps you see your progress or identify unhealthy patterns that are holding you back. Journaling can help reduce anxiety, too. Get into a daily habit of journaling to enjoy better emotional health.
Here are five reasons why you should keep a journal:
#1. A journal helps you clear your mind. Writing your feelings and thoughts down declutters your mental space and enables you to organize your emotions, making them easier to process.
#2. Journals can reduce your stress level. When you have stress and anxiety, putting these thoughts down can help you figure out what is bothering you, how to eliminate sources of stress, and what is triggering your fears about the future.
#3. Writing in your journal helps you improve yourself. If you are interested in personal growth, there is no more powerful tool than a daily journal.
#4. Journaling can help you heal from emotional trauma. When you have emotional wounds, expressive writing in a journal helps you to process your experience and recover more quickly and healthily.
#5. Your journal becomes a reflective tool. You can look back in your journal at patterns, lessons learned, milestones achieved, and much more and use it to help you continue to prosper on your emotional healing journey.
Mindfulness and journaling are two great habits that will help you care for your emotional health. Next, we will explore two more that are excellent for your well-being.
Think Differently About Loss And Failure And Heal Your Emotional Self
We all experience setbacks and loss in our lives. Being happy and having emotional health is not about never experiencing confusing emotions or hardships. Instead, it is about how you choose to look at these negative and challenging experiences, and what you learn from it, as well as how you allow these obstacles to influence your choices and behavior.
For example, when you experience emotionally stressful events, such as a death, the end of a relationship, or any other trauma, it can be helpful to look for meaning or purpose to these experiences. This will take time, but it can be useful in the long run for moving on from emotionally traumatizing circumstances.
Rather than fearing failure or looking at it as something negative, it is better for your emotional health if you take control of your reactions and turn failure into something positive.
Failure is an opportunity to learn from feedback, to carefully examine what you need to do to be successful in the future and to move forward with a more informed plan.
Failures help you identify the factors you can control and allows you to take control of your motivation and plans.
Just rethinking how you approach and learn from loss and failure can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being. Ready to learn more habits to improve your self-awareness and regulation? We’ve got you covered. Keep reading.
Eight Daily Habits To Improve Your Emotional Health
Here are some practical tips for caring for your emotional health every day. These simple habits can help improve not only your body but also your mind when you do them regularly.
Here are our top eight favorite ways to take care of your emotional well-being!
- Exercise. Activity releases neurotransmitters and hormones that boost your mood and enhance your ability to control your emotions.
- Stay positive. Giving in to negative thinking often leads to negative self-talk, loss of self-esteem, and other responses that lessen your ability to control your emotions.
- Be kind. When you offer kindness and generosity to others, it allows you to think of them and not yourself.
- Be sociable. Spending time with other people, talking to them, and sharing your feelings is an excellent way to learn to manage them more appropriately.
- Take a break. When you feel your emotions getting high, or you need some time to compose a thoughtful response that is not based on emotions, take a breather.
- Accept. Acceptance of those things that you cannot control and being open to ideas about those that are within your sphere of influence, helps manage emotions.
- Get outside. Fresh air, sunshine, and being around nature are all ways to improve your outlook, boost your mood, and calm yourself when your emotions are running high.
- Practice gratitude. When you purposefully focus on what you are grateful for, you are better able to handle emotions and can focus on what is positive in your life.
Next, we’ll make you aware of some bad ways to deal with emotions in order for you to recognize them should you perhaps be guilty of any.
Five Bad Ways to Deal with Your Negative Emotions
Whether you are battling with depression, anger, grief, guilt, or something else that is difficult, negative emotions can be hard to handle. But, when you positively handle them and learn to process your feelings, they do not have to be scary. In fact, it is incredibly healthy and helpful to deal with your negative emotions, if you do it well.
But there are many ways that we deal with negative emotions that are not particularly healthy or productive. And when you find yourself relying on these tactics, you may want to examine just how healthy your emotional well-being is. Not sure what we mean by unhealthy ways to deal with negative emotions?
Here are five examples.
#1. Bottling them up. When you choose to bottle your emotions up, rather than express and process them, you start to build up stress that not only affects your health but also impairs your thinking. Your feelings will not go away when you do this but will instead reappear in often unhelpful ways. You may find yourself snapping at loved ones, losing patience with others, or experiencing strong emotions over insignificant events. Bottling things up is a temporary solution that still leaves you having to deal with your feelings later.
#2. Withdrawing from others. Another common but unhelpful strategy for negative emotions is to withdraw from others. You may think that it takes too much energy to be around other people. You may feel overwhelmed by your feelings. Your negative emotions may even be telling you that you are not lovable, and therefore, no one wants to be with you. All of these are isolating you from your support system, which you need when tackling hard times.
#3. Numbing your pain. Whether your drug of choice is alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, gambling, or sex, there are many risky and harmful behaviors that are commonly used to numb your negative feelings and help you cope with hard times in your life. While numbing your emotions may feel better in the moment, you still have not dealt with the underlying issue, and your choices may be creating other, unhealthy situations in your life which you will have to deal with later.
#4. Taking it out on others. When you feel bad, sometimes it can feel better if other people feel bad, too. One common but unproductive coping strategy is to take your pain out on other people. This strategy can include all sorts of threats, violence, coercion, or emotional abuse against other people in your life. Over time, this will sever essential relationships and make you feel even worse.
Not sure yet if you are emotionally healthy? Next, we explore the characteristics of genuine emotional health.
How To Know If You Are An Emotionally Healthy Person
Now that you know how important it is to take care of your emotional health and look after your feelings, it is also helpful to understand what emotional health looks like, too.
Emotionally healthy people share several common characteristics and habits that lead them to be able to understand and manage their own emotions.
Here are the most common of those characteristics.
- They are self-aware.
- They are empathetic.
- They are adaptable.
- They are optimistic.
- They believe in themselves.
- They are curious.
- They are analytical.
- They know the difference between their needs and their wants.
When you practice self-care and healthy emotional habits, you can improve your well-being. And if you aren’t sure if you are emotionally healthy or not, ask yourself if other people would describe you in any of these ways? If not, maybe it’s time you started working on some new mindsets and habits.
Caring for your emotional health is a crucial part of your health and well-being. It requires the same attention, exercise, and love that your physical body does, and when you learn to look after your emotional health, it will finally start looking after you.
Learning to identify, process, and act upon your emotions in a healthy way is a real sign of emotional health. Only by engaging in productive and healthy processing and acceptance of your feelings will you ever have them under control and be able to live a happy life. When you are ready to take control of your emotional wellness, you will stop engaging in these and other unproductive strategies for dealing with negative emotions and learn how to manage them properly.by