Emotional health is as essential to our well-being as physical health. Mentally healthy people are in control of their emotions and behavior. Emotional health allows us to weather the roller coaster ups and downs of life, handle daily challenges and build enduring relationships to create productive, fulfilling lives. When life hits a bump in the road or disaster strikes, emotionally healthy people have the strength to keep moving forward and the resilience to believe that life will get better. While many Americans work at improving their physical health, few realize the equal importance of actively working to improve mental health.
People who are emotionally healthy share some common characteristics:
- They feel content. Life has meaning and purpose and is filled with satisfying relationships and activities.
- They enjoy life and people, laugh often, and know how to have fun. They have created a comfortable balance between work and play, rest and activity, family and work.
- They enjoy learning new things and adapt readily to change.
- They have learned to cope with stress and adversity successfully, and when faced with problems are optimistic that life will improve.
- They have high self-esteem and project self-confidence.
There is a strong connection between mental and physical health. Adequate sleep, regular exercise, proper nutrition, a daily dose of sunlight, limiting alcohol, and avoiding cigarettes and other drugs improve physical health while increasing energy and lifting your mood, contributing to positive mental health. Physical exercise releases endorphins that reduce stress and lift mood, helping to combat anxiety and depression. Adequate sleep decreases the risk of depression and increases resilience. Ten to 15 minutes of sunlight a day increases happiness.
It’s as important to nurture your mind and emotional health as it is to take care of your body. Try these strategies for decreasing stress and building positive emotions:
- Feel the world through your five senses.
- Explore your creativity.
- Share your life with a pet.
- Take time for contemplation.