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Emotional or mental health refers to your overall psychological well being, and encompasses the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with challenges.
Good mental health is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive character traits.
People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:
- A sense of contentment.
- A zest for life and the ability to laugh and have fun.
- The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
- A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and relationships.
- The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.
- A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
- The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
- Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
These positive characteristics of mental and emotional health allow you to participate in life to the fullest extent possible through productive, meaningful activities and strong relationships, and also help you cope when faced with life’s challenges and stresses.
Taking care of your body is a powerful first step towards mental and emotional health, since the mind and body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well being. For example, exercise not only strengthens the heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins – powerful chemicals that energise us and lift our mood.
The activities in which you engage and the daily choices you make affect the way you feel physically and emotionally.
- Get enough rest. To have good mental and emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body. That includes getting enough sleep in order to function optimally.
- Learn about good nutrition and practice it. The subject of nutrition is complicated and not always easy to put into practice, but the more you learn about what you eat and how it affects your energy and mood, the better you can feel. For starters, avoid processed food as much as possible.
- Exercise to relieve stress and lift your mood. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Look for small ways to add activity to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going on a short walk.
- Get a dose of sunlight every day. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get some sunshine daily.
- Limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. These are stimulants that may make you feel good in the short term, but have long-term negative consequences for mood and emotional health.
Other strategies for taking care of yourself may include:
- Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energised by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
- Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive.
- Get a pet. Caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There is no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Owning a dog may also encourage you to get out of the house for exercise.
- Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, etc.
- Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Meditate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.
Everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.
Our blog is courtesy of www.all4women.co.za