Last updated: 11/1/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 12 minutes
In addiction recovery, the state of your emotional health can mean the difference between staying true to your recovery goals, or falling into a relapse episode. The more you know about emotional health and what it means, the more apt you will be spot an emotional issue within yourself before it becomes a full blown mental health problem, or leads to an addiction relapse.
Identifying a problem within yourself can be a difficult thing to see and also face, so it is important to reach out to your loved ones and let them help you through this process. Your loved ones can provide you with the support you need. Additionally, treatment centers for addiction, mental health, or both (dual diagnosis) can help you work on your emotional health and get better.
Emotional health doesn’t happen overnight; it takes patience and a deep commitment to finding inner peace within yourself. But the payoff will be well worth the time and energy spent achieving your emotional health.
Myths and Facts about Emotional Health
Myth: There is a right way to feel in each and every situation in life.
Fact: Emotions cannot be classified as right and wrong or good and bad. There is no rulebook on what you can feel and when you can feel that way. In fact, people can react differently to all kinds of situations and no one can be considered right or wrong.
Myth: Expressing emotions to others shows a weakness of character.
Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. Showing your emotions to others requires bravery and the ability to accurately communicate your feelings to others. There is nothing wrong with communicating your feelings to others.
Myth: Having negative feelings means that there is something wrong with me.
Fact: Everyone has negative thoughts and feelings at some point in time and does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Although, if you feel you are having frequent negative thoughts, it may be a good idea to seek help.
Tips for Improving and Managing your Emotional Health
To be emotionally healthy, an individual must be in charge of their emotions, meaning they must be able to understand and communicate them effectively to themselves and others. Emotionally healthy individuals can also effectively handle the challenges that we all face in life, build strong and healthy emotional relationships, and are able to quickly bounce back from life’s setbacks. If you or someone you know has trouble in any of these areas, please seek professional help to assist you in dealing with your problems.
Please keep in mind that repairing your emotional health is not going to happen overnight, it is a process of healing and growth, but it is a rewarding experience for you and your loved ones. In fact, there are many things you can do each and every day to keep yourself emotionally healthy. The strategies and tips you will read can help you move towards a more healthy emotional state and lead to a brighter future. But first, you must understand what mental health or emotional health means.
Good mental and emotional health is more than just the absence of a mental health condition, like depression, mental illness, or addiction; it is having a positive outlook on life. Simply not having negative characteristics within yourself does not mean that you possess these positive feelings and aspects, which is the difference between being emotionally healthy or not.
Some of the most common characteristics of mental and emotional health include:
- The ability to build strong relationships
- A passion for life
- The ability to laugh and enjoy life
- Feelings of contentment with your life and your place in life
- The ability to deal with stressful situations
- Feelings of self-confidence as well as having a healthy self-esteem
- The ability to adapt and change in new and challenging situations
- Feelings of having meaning and purpose in your life
- The ability to find a balance between work and life
There are many factors that can help you improve your emotional health, and one of the most important is your resilience. Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges quickly and effectively in order to move forward in life. Having this skill can greatly affect the way that you view life and its challenges. The more resilient you are the faster you can get back to your normal life after overcoming the adversity that came your way. The best way to positively affect your resilience is to step back and look at the situation in question, and look for the positive as well as the best way to effectively solve the issue.
The ability to recognize your emotions and express them properly can also help you reduce your chances of experiencing many emotional problems, such as depression, anger issues, and anxiety. Noticing these types of emotions at the onset can greatly improve your chances of a quick and successful recovery. Self-reflection is a great tool in the fight against mental and emotional health issues.
The Strong Connection between Physical and Emotional Health
Your physical body and your emotional health are more intertwined than you may believe, and so your physical health can often largely affect your mental state. This being said, it is very important to your emotional health that your body is in the best condition possible. So, improving your physical health can positively impact your emotions on a large scale.
There are many ways to improve your health, and these 5 tips are the best ways to do so:
- Go out and enjoy the sun each and every day: Sunlight not only uplifts your mood, it has also been seen that vitamin D can help improve your immune system, promote healthy digestion and strengthen your bones.
- Learn about and practice good nutrition: Ever heard the saying, you are what you eat? Well it holds some truth. The better you eat, the better your body will feel, and in turn the better your mind will feel. Nutrition has been linked directly to mood.
- Getting enough sleep: A good mental state relies on being well rested. Without good rest, our minds will not be sharp, we will be more apt to let stress overcome us, and our overall mood will be less positive. Getting enough sleep can mean the difference between a good mood and bad.
- Limiting your consumption of alcohol and tobacco: These substances are mood altering, and while they may make you feel better in the short-term, they are detrimental to your mood in the long run. Both alcohol and tobacco have also been linked to many diseases, which in turn can reduce your physical health over time.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise: This is probably one of the most important factors that influence your physical health. Not only does exercise help you stay healthy by reducing your weight or maintaining a healthy weight, it also helps reduce stress and lift your mood. This may just be the single best way to take care of both your body and mind.
Ways to Improve Emotional Health
There is no perfect fix to improving your emotional health; it is a process, and the tips and strategies shown below should be used in tandem with each other, for the best results. Just choose which ones will work for you and practice them in your daily life. You may be surprised at just how much these small changes can affect your mood, as well as your outlook on your everyday life.
These strategies can also help you take better care of yourself, which will help you in all facets of your life.
- Try new things: This can be a great way to grow as a person, which will bring more joy and passion back into your life. This can also help you to open up and meet new people, building new friendships and possibly even some lifelong relationships.
- Limit negative thinking: This sounds easy, but in all actuality can be a difficult thing to train yourself on. But, if you can get used to practicing it, can make an extreme difference in your mental and emotional health.
- Positively impact the lives of others: Actively taking steps to help others can greatly affect your mood in a positive way. It feels good to help others, and can even help raise your self-esteem and self-worth. Plus, it makes the world a better place.
- Look for beauty in the world around you: You can do this in your own environment, or you can go out of your way to find beauty, but no matter how you find it, it will improve your mood and your creativity. People who enjoy everyday beauty are much less likely to feel depressed, anxious, or angry.
- Learn and use self-discipline: When you practice self-control, you feel as though there is hope, and can therefore increase mood and overall mental health. Self-discipline can help you overcome feelings of helplessness and despair more easily.
- Adopt an animal: Pets have been proven time and time again, to be mood lifting for pet owners. Pets can provide companionship, stress reduction, and something to focus on and care for, which can all work towards a better emotional state.
- Find a way to use your creativity in a meaningful way: This may be one of the best ways to find true happiness. When we feel as though we are making a difference in the world, we will feel more content with ourselves and the world we live in. Plus, you may actually make a positive impact on our world.
- Make time for play: This is definitely an important strategy to implement into your everyday life. The more enjoyment you have in your life, the more positive your mood will be. There is no downside to having joy in your life.
- Spend time on self-reflection: Spending time thinking about your own thoughts and feelings can increase the understanding you have about yourself. The more you know yourself, the sooner you may spot an emotional issue forming, which can help you get help sooner.
- Find ways to enjoy the world using your 5 senses: This means that you should listen to your favorite style of music, look at some beautiful art, enjoy a delicious meal, or get lost in a delightful fragrance. This can work by lifting your mood and therefore improving your overall emotional health.
Having loving and caring people in your life is one of the best ways to improve or maintain your emotional health. The care and understanding that you will receive can provide a lasting positive effect on your mood and your long term happiness. Having strong relationships with friends and family can also help you build your self-esteem and these individuals can help encourage you in your time of need. It has been said time and time again that friendship is the best medicine, so it comes to reason that building these types of relationships can do a lot to help your emotional health throughout your lifetime.
In addition to strong relationships, it has been proven that just participating in social interaction can uplift your mood as well. The main way that social interaction works to improve your emotional health are through stress reduction. Talking about your feelings with someone else can help you to put them in perspective, so that you can move forward. This can be very therapeutic, as long as you have a good listener to talk to, who won’t criticize your feelings or judge you. But, be sure that you are a good listener to your friend as well, and this strategy will not only reduce your stress, but it will also help you build a strong friendship.
Sometimes, people with emotional problems can find it hard to make new friends or maintain their current relationships, which can cause their issues to deepen, in a vicious cycle of anxiety, anger or depression. There are some tips to help you break the cycle and get out there, so that you can meet new people and create lasting friendships.
- Volunteering in your community: This activity can not only help your community, but it can also help you build relationships, self-esteem, and in turn improve your emotional health. When you volunteer and provide assistance to a cause that is meaningful to you, you will meet many like-minded individuals who you can build strong friendships with that may actually last a lifetime.
- Actively try to join in on activities: This one can be difficult for many people to do, especially if they are already exhibiting emotional issues. But it is important for these individuals to overcome their fears and open themselves up to new experiences. Most of the people who try are grateful that they did in the long run.
- Make time for your friends: This is one of the most important ways to keep your mood positive. Having face-to-face time with your loved ones can offer a fulfilling strategy to keeping yourself happy and emotionally healthy. Also, you may end up meeting friends of friends, which can open yourself up to new relationships.
- Turn off the TV and get out there: This should be self-explanatory, but in case it’s not, it is nearly impossible to make new relationships or enhance your current ones if you’re stuck in front of the television. Get out the and enjoy your life, I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Emotional Intelligence and its Role on Our Emotional Health
We have all heard of emotional intelligence, but what is it and how can it aid in improving our emotional health? Well emotional intelligence is our ability to use our emotions in a positive manner to help us manage conflict, communicate well, feel empathy for others, and overcome the challenges in our lives. Our emotional intelligence can directly affect our emotional health in a number of ways, from our stress level, to our self-esteem, and even our ability to build strong relationships.
Emotional intelligence is made up of 4 main characteristics, self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management.
- Self-awareness: Individuals with high emotional intelligence often exhibit an ability to recognize their own thoughts and feelings as well as the thoughts and feelings of others. This high level of self-awareness can benefit them greatly in life, and can make early detection of an issue very possible.
- Social awareness: A high level of social awareness makes it easy for you to empathize with others and build strong relationships. This skill will assist you in building strong lasting relationships.
- Self-management: Self-management basically means that you are able to manage your stress and react in healthy ways. Without this skill, you will not experience a healthy emotional state, because as an individual, you need to be able to handle life at its best and its worst.
- Relationship management: Relationship management is the ability to successfully manage your friendships and other relationships in life. Without a strong support system, it is very difficult to overcome the stresses in life and become happy and healthy.
Not only can your emotional intelligence affect your emotional and mental health, but it can also affect many other aspects of your life. Your work performance can be positively or negatively affected by the state of your emotional intelligence. This is because your ability to motivate and inspire others, as well as understand complex social situations is governed by your emotional intelligence. This part of your psyche also can affect your physical health, by managing the damage felt by the stress in your life.
Stress can cause many adverse health issues such as increasing blood pressure and diminishing your immune system. If gone untreated, these issues can lead to much more serious health problems including heart attacks, strokes, and fertility issues. So, your emotional intelligence can have a lasting effect on your physical well-being, whether it is positive or negative, is completely up to you.
Emotional intelligence can also strongly affect your relationships with others. This is because of its governance over your empathy, communication skills, ability to handle stress, and by simply being able to understand your own emotions. All of these characteristics are necessary in building successful relationships. Without these skills, it will be very difficult to effectively relate with others.
Seeking out help does not mean you are weak, it means that you are strong enough to ask for help when you know you have a problem. Finding the right kind of therapy can make all of the difference in your ability to learn and grow in your sessions. There are many kinds of therapy available, from group and couples counseling to family and of course, individual sessions. It is also important to be sure you are comfortable with the therapist you choose, because you will need to trust them fully in every way. Some people find it comforting to have a therapist of the same sex as themselves, while others are more concerned with their credentials and practice specialties. No matter how you go about choosing, be sure to do your research before beginning any therapy treatment.