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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

15 Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health

15 Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health

Our emotional health can be defined in many ways, and because it is subjective and specific to each person, one simple definition doesn’t always cut it. However, we can begin to understand emotional health as it relates to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how we’re able to best control these when they no longer serve us efficiently.

According to Dan Eisenberg, sports psychologist at OffshoreSportsbooks.com, nearly 18% of the US population experiences an emotional health issue.[1] Emotional health, when left unchecked, manifests in the physical body in the forms of muscle tension, fatigue, and dis-ease. When we’re facing stress, sadness, or anger, embracing habits that teach us how to cope with these emotions and the thoughts that accompany them can be powerfully effective in keeping our entire being strong, happy, and healthy.

1. Talk It Out

One of the quickest ways of releasing pent-up emotions is to talk it out, whether that’s with a friend, family member, or someone neutral, like a therapist or counselor.

Fixing the problem during these conversations is not necessarily the goal; instead, venting or releasing words that surround the problem is one healthy way of expressing how you feel. Usually, solutions arise on their own out of this release, but the sole act of giving a voice to your emotions is a good start.

2. Write It Down

If speaking to someone makes you uncomfortable, writing down your thoughts and emotions as they arise is another healthy habit. This practice of journaling helps you put your words down on paper in a way that is safe, secure, and personal.

It also gives your feelings and thoughts an outlet that you may or may not decide to share with others; but the act of providing that outlet is healthier than keeping feelings bottled up.

3. Meditate

Meditation has long been proven to help reduce stress and tension. In a 2016 study, 76% of people questioned about their meditation practice claimed that it helped their general wellness tremendously, with 60% reporting that it increased their energy, and 50% reporting that it helped their memory and focus.[2]

Sitting down in a meditation practice allows you to observe the feelings and thoughts that come up, and then detach from letting them fester into growing problems. The practice teaches you how to distance yourself from the emotional chaos we tend to find ourselves in, long enough to create space in which to simply be.

Here’s a video to guide you through meditation:

Or you can also take a look at these guides on meditation:

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4. Move Your Body

Whether this is in a yoga practice or a gym exercise routine, moving the body has tremendous ties in how that affects our emotional response, and in turn, health.

Depending on what you may be feeling or going through at the time, stepping into a mindful movement with the body can pull you out of that thinking loop, and back into a physical connection.

As long as you’re mindful and aware of the movements you’re doing, you’re giving your mind something to focus on. Likewise, you’re giving your emotional health a dose of serotonin, the feel-good chemical that contributes to feelings of wellness and general happiness.[3]

You can try this gentle somatic yoga for emotional release:

5. Go Outside

Nature has such a powerful effect on the body, mind, and soul. We spend so much time indoors, because of our jobs, families, responsibilities, and so forth, that we don’t take the time to really tap into the simple idea of being outside.

Whether you make a routine of taking a brief walk outside during your lunch break, or just stepping out to enjoy some fresh air for a few minutes on a park bench nearby, these simple habits, over time, can truly refresh and reset you for prime emotional health.

6. Try Forest Bathing

While we’re on the topic of being outside in nature, forest bathing is an incredible practice to implement. Called Shinrin in Japanese, forest bathing has made its way westward to pull people into the simple union with nature and its many benefits.[4]

Simply find a forest or nearby location where you can get away from the noise of the city – a park, wooded trail, etc. Unplug and leave your phone, camera, and any other technology in the car. As you’re walking, be all there! Listen to the sounds around you, feel your feet on the ground, and become deeply aware of the sensations around you and within you.

This practice is meant to disconnect you from constantly chasing down the future, and put you back into the present moment – the only one that truly matters.

You can learn more about forest bathing in the video below:

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7. Start a Gratitude Journal

It’s so easy to get sucked into the thought loop that we’re not doing enough, or that we have so many items to yet tick off of our to-do list before the day is done. However, this thought loop breeds a thought reality that keeps us chained to anxiety, depression, and a slew of other negative nasties.

In order to tap into all that you have done and accomplished in a single day, begin a gratitude journal. Before you go to sleep at night, write down a list of things and people for which and whom you’re grateful. Be specific and as lengthy as you’d like, and then look over the list to truly embrace all that you do have in your life.

Take a look at this article and find out how to start a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

8. Make Time for Fun and Fun People

We work too hard, and no play really makes for unsteady and unbalanced emotional health. We’re active and social creatures who need to be around others, enjoying the many perks that life has to offer.

Make it a point to schedule fun time with friends, at least once per month. If you schedule it ahead of time and get it on everyone’s calendar, chances are that you won’t get bogged down with other priorities. After all, fun should still be a priority, even in adulthood!

9. Practice Self-Forgiveness with EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure, or also known as Tapping.[5] It has been used to alleviate physical and emotional pain, and works wonders on self-forgiveness.

We’re often too hard on ourselves. In a deadline-demand-driven society, we subconsciously load ourselves up on expectations that lead to failure, disappointment, and then suffering. EFT allows you to tap into the physical meridians where we hold this emotionally manifested pain, in order to release and forgive.

Check out this video on how to do EFT tapping therapy:

10. Set Daily Priorities

When we’re overwhelmed with work, we tend to dive deep into stress. This may result in stressful eating, poor exercise regimens, and an overall lack of motivation and energy. All of this quickly leads back to that same emotional loop of thinking we’re not good enough, not disciplined enough, etc.

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In order to keep this mental loop from spiraling out of control, setting daily priorities is key. This could mean writing down a list of things to get done throughout the day, and then dividing what is a top project for the day, and what can wait.

This type of breakdown also motivates you to keep going, since you’ll be getting the biggest task out of the way first. Don’t forget to celebrate little milestones along the way! Inbox all cleared out? Awesome! Play your favorite energizing song and take a 5-minute break before the next task.

11. Treat Yourself

We easily treat other people, but when it comes to ourselves, that tends to be a harder point to sell. Maintaining health – whether emotional, physical, or otherwise – is a lifelong journey. Who says you can’t reward yourself for all of the hard work you’re putting in?

A treat may look like a weekend getaway to a spa, or simply a nice bubble bath at home, in the peace and quiet of your own home. These rewards need not be expensive or elaborate; but do keep them a priority.

Celebrating yourself every chance you get leads to inspiration and motivation to keep on your health path.

Take a look at these 40 Self Care Techniques To Rejuvenate And Restore Yourself.

12. Travel

Most of us think of travel as something exotic and expensive, and therefore unattainable; but it doesn’t have to be so! Travel can be anything that takes you out of your current usual routine or comfort zone. Maybe taking a new route to work, or checking out that park on the other side of town one weekend that you’ve always wanted to visit – travel is everywhere!

Give yourself permission (and a treat!) to see and experience something new. Oftentimes, these types of experiences shift our perspective, and give us that much-needed connection with ourselves and the world at large.

13. Take a Class, or Learn Something New

Emotional health is all about changing up the routines we’re used to relying on for our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The human mind is at its best when it’s being stimulated, and in what better way to do that than to learn something new.

Think about a class you’ve always been interested in, or a skill you’d like to develop. Check out your local colleges, libraries, or social media for opportunities, classes, or workshops. When we take on a new subject area to learn about, we create new neuropathways in the brain. These, in turn, not only help us refresh our creativity and problem-solving skills, but they also change our brain chemistry and allow us to better respond to life’s many changes.[6]

14. Get Enough Sleep

Ensuring that you’re getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night is vital for your physical, emotional, and mental health. In order to be productive and energized to take on your day stems from the type of quality sleep you’re getting at night.

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Are you tossing and turning? Perhaps look at your environment and make necessary changes, like new sheets, better pillow, or arrangement of bed that you have in your room.

Do you wake up throughout the night? Keep a journal nearby and document what happens that wakes you, and what you do right after you’re up. This can help you better observe patterns of wakefulness and what you can do about it.

Remember to also put away your phones and tablets before bedtime, to give the body the necessary “down time” in preparation for sleep.

And consider building a night time routine to help put you to sleep: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

15. Build Resilience for When Things Change

There is one constant in life, and that is that it will constantly change. As humans, we tend to attach ourselves to the control we have over life, but when it changes unexpectedly (in loss of a person or job), we have a hard time grappling with the reality of it all. Building resilience for these changes ensures that we can bounce back from anything that life throws at us.

In Buddhism, one precept sits above all that is focused on this idea of change, and that is impermanence. This doctrine teaches us that everything is temporary – loss, sadness, grief, happiness, anger, etc. Because life ebbs and flows, so does change along with it.

We’re just there to enjoy and witness the ride, and this means practicing detachment from the idea that we have any real control to begin with! This surrender truly becomes our resilience, and enables us to roll with the punches and embrace all that life has to offer, even when it’s hard.

If you want some practical tips to build resilience, take a look at this article: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

Final Thoughts

Emotional health is just as important as mental and physical health. It is, after all, one and the same.

How we react to the many changes in life can be very telling of how healthy we are, emotionally. Thankfully, there are a plethora of simple habits that we can implement today to help us regain footing on the journey that is our whole-self wellness.

More Tips for Strengthening Emotional Health

Featured photo credit: Rebecca Harris via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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