These days, most people would be comfortable trying to define physical health or mental health, but what about emotional health? Emotional health is a crucial pillar of wellness that is often overlooked.
It is determined, in part, by your ability to express your emotions in a regulated and constructive manner. Human emotions can vary from anger to sadness to exuberance! However, expressing extreme versions of these emotions can have serious consequences. Anger can bring about destruction; exuberance can result in carelessness.
Having good emotional health means that you communicate your feelings (and your needs) in a way that is productive without making the situation worse. This is a very similar concept to assertiveness and healthy boundaries. Boosting emotional health may take practice, but it is something that can be improved upon. Here are some practical tips to help support proper emotional health:
Emotional health is intimately connected to how you behave in response to stressful events, otherwise known as your "stress response". The first step to improving your stress response is to become keenly aware of the sensations associated with stress - tightness in your chest, increased breathing rate, and so forth. Once this process starts to arise, notice it, name it, and begin your relaxation response! Relaxation responses are personalized, pre-planned strategies to help counteract stress. Examples may include simple mantras or mindful breathing techniques. When something goes wrong in your day, say to yourself "I accept this" or "I'll allow it" and move on with courage.
Morning Statements - Set the Stage
Morning statements set the tone for your entire day. I personally like to finish my morning meditation with a statement or two. Here are a couple of my personal favourites inspire by the Stoics:
"Today, the expected may not come to pass, and the unexpected may come to pass. All is welcomed by me."
"Today, I will derive benefit from every experience, for it is within my power to do so."
Core Beliefs and Thinking Traps
Inaccurate core beliefs about yourself and others can lead to considerable stress. These thought patterns start in early childhood and are reinforced overtime. A skilled health practitioner can help you challenge these core beliefs so that your thinking patterns and behaviours are far more constructive.
A core belief that someone might hold is that they're "un-loveable", or that "people can't be trusted". These types of beliefs tend to discount a myriad of important factors, including the positive aspects of life. It is important to identify which core beliefs are driving negative emotion and behaviour.
Reduce these things as much as possible:
Most news and politics
Caffeine in daily amounts of over 300mg
Noisy environments; sensory overload
Packing your schedule without adequate breaks
Too much alcohol, too often
People who enjoy close relationships with family and friends have a higher quality of life. It's that simple. Social support is emotional support, and during times of chronic stress and crisis we need each other. Not to mention how great it can be to laugh with other people from time to time!
We do not need to fill our calendars with social obligations to maintain a support network. Regular, casual check-ins can go a long way.
A healthy mind:gut connection will also support your emotional health. There are studies that show an improved gut microbiome can improve symptoms of depression. The by-products of our gut bacteria in our gut travel all the way to the brain and help maintain the integrity of the blood-brain-barrier, contributing to overall brain health. Some of the best foods to eat for a healthy microbiome include onions, garlic, asparagus, brussel sprouts, almonds, apples, Greek yoghurt, and kimchi. A daily multi-strain probiotic of at least 10 Bil CFUs could also be helpful.
I help others achieve a level of health they never thought possible. If you or someone you know could use a helping hand, please book an appointment today: naturopathyyc.com/book-now
-Dr. Riley, ND