Emotional health is a major key to happiness. Happiness is less about what we do and more about becoming emotionally agile, healthy, and balanced. Our mood and emotions are like a pendulum. The further they swing one direction the more difficult it becomes to bring them back to a calm and neutral level. It’s similar to a car overheating. If we drive a car long enough without tending to the engine the car will eventually break down and overheat. Our mind and body is the same. If we don’t tend to our mental health we will eventually have a break down. We will become overwhelmed and struggle to cope. We need to have an occasional “check up from the neck up” to keep ourselves balanced and healthy. So, here are some strategies to stay emotionally healthy and avoid a break down.
Optimists have a positive attitude about the future. They believe things will turn out okay and know that a bad situation is only temporary, it won’t last forever, and it doesn’t have to affect other areas of their life. When we have a positive outlook we can cope more effectively with stress. Next time you encounter a struggle be careful not to blow things out of proportion.
Hope is the light within the darkness. It is that glimmer of courage during difficult times. Hope can be developed by experiencing small wins. The achievement of our goals is the primary ways to increase our level of hope. When we are able to reach our goals and have a sense of support and validation the future seems more hopeful.
A major source of well-being and living a happy life is self-acceptance, or the attitude we hold about ourselves. This relates to feeling satisfied with who you are, making peace with the past, and contentment with your current situation. Acceptance is about coming to terms with what we can’t change or control. Recognize the futility in holding onto negativity about people, places, and situations you can’t change.
There is nothing more important than having caring, trusting, and loving relationships in life. We all need to feel connected, accepted, and loved by others. An outgoing and social personality has been show to relate to a more positive mood. This may be because extraverts tend to connect with others and gain more social support. We need intimate relationships in our life to get our emotional needs met. Practice being assertive and reaching out to others. Be yourself and be willing to open up and say what’s on your mind.
Focusing on what we appreciate is one of the most validated ways to improve our well-being. Gratitude softens the heart and fills us with greater compassion. Focus on the areas of your life that you view as positive. It is okay to strive for more, but be aware of how this can influence your satisfaction with life. Make sure to keep a grateful perspective as you strive for a better life.
Purpose and meaning
There is a real sense of aliveness when we have direction and something to strive for. Purpose and meaning can come from using your natural strengths and talents, developing intimate relationships, and growing spiritually. Consider if your goals and intentions offer a sense of something greater than yourself. Having something beyond ourselves to turn to in times of need can be very reassuring. Explore how you can grow spirituality even if this isn’t an area you practice currently. Spirituality can be a specific practice that offers greater meaning and purpose.
We need to have mastery over our environment and learn how to adapt and modify our circumstances to have emotional balance. Mastery comes from having the skills and competence necessary to progress and achieve what we need, as well as having the confidence and belief in our abilities. Mastery provides a sense of pride and success, and is a catalyst for further motivation to deal with life’s challenges.
The most proven method to keep ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy is to exercise and stay active. Exercise at least 3-4 days a week for 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be an intense or strenuous workout. As long as you get your heart rate to a certain aerobic level you will reap the emotional benefits.
Mindfulness (stop ruminating)
When we get into a funk it is often accompanied and preceded by negative or worrisome thinking. Pay attention to the times during the day when your mind is wandering and focusing on problems. It’s okay to worry for about 10 minutes but after this point it’s no longer much help. Find distractions to interrupt your ruminating. Practice being mindful or your thoughts and feelings to clue into your patterns of negative thinking. Try to incorporate some of these ideas into your life to help you move past suffering toward a life of vitality and meaning.