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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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 January 21, 2021

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, when it does, it takes over, making it difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion, and self-care ideas go out the window.

However, this is the moment when self-care is the most important. When you notice that you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or powerful emotions, it’s time to get back to a sense of balance by showing yourself love and compassion.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response through the stress hormone, cortisol.

According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios.

Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as life-threatening, and we become locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

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On a mental and emotional scale, stress affects your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior. Everything is interconnected. When stress takes a toll on our bodies, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

Self-Care Ideas to Combat Stress

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being, so it’s important to turn to self-care ideas in these moments.

One exercise to get this under control is called a brain dump, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up.

Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph.

Don’t focus on how it looks or how well it’s organized. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

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Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are—they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body, mostly in our neck, shoulders, and hips. If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America[3]:

“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week for your mental and physical health. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why spending time in a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

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In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution and a great addition to our self-care routine.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice)

4. Interrupt Your Day

When it comes to self-care ideas, this may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also help you de-stress

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As I said above, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing to feel good.

5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, a Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture[4].

Moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional.

In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment, making it a beautiful way to squeeze in self-care!

You can find even more stress management techniques in the following video:

Final Thoughts

Stress is, unfortunately, a common part of every life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state.

This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed again, but they will certainly help you manage it better and offer amazing health benefits along the way.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
[4] Medical Acupuncture: Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over Time? A Clinical Heart Rate Variability Study in Hypertensive Patients

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