Hello again to all returning readers and welcome to those who are reading for the first time! This is the official blog for Life & Wellness Counseling and Consulting and we are glad that you’re here.
Today we will discuss Emotional Health, one of the 5 Facets of Health that was introduced in an earlier blog post. We will discuss the remaining 3 facets in the coming weeks so be sure to check-in with us weekly because life is beautiful!
In last week’s blog post we defined mental health as “the skills and techniques we use daily to manage the thoughts and emotions that govern the behaviors in our lives and relationships.” In contrast, emotional health refers to being secure in what we feel, being able to regulate personal moods, and being aware of our feelings and the feelings of others. So just to be clear, mental health is about our thought processes and perceptions, while emotional health focuses on feelings and moods.
A significant number of people are not even aware that they have emotional health, much less how to become emotionally healthy. So let’s start there. Who has emotional health? Everyone has emotional health! Whether you’re over-sensitive about everything or completely detached from everything, everyone has some quality of emotional health.
The difficulty many people experience with becoming emotionally healthy is directly related to the incorrect labeling of their own emotions. This then impacts their interpretation of the emotions of others. Finally, this causes behaviors and responses. Ask anyone on any given day and the 5 most common emotional labels will include happy, sad, mad, afraid, and tired… a very bland pallet used to paint the wide range of the emotional spectrum.
Improving your emotional health starts with increasing your awareness of emotions that you could potentially experience, such as:
Take a moment to reflect on your emotions this past week while looking at the list above. How many of those emotions did you experience within the last 7 days? How many of them did you label as happy, sad, mad, scared, or tired?
The incorrect labeling of emotions is forged out of our unconscious attempt to simplify how we feel. We often believe that if the emotion is simplified, it can be processed more easily and we can move past it much more quickly. Well, the problem
with that is EMOTIONS ARE NOT SIMPLE! They are complex, multifaceted, and often tend to exist on a continuum.
The complexity of emotions is due to the variety of situations that could trigger the same emotion. One set of circumstances could cause you to experience the emotion more positively while with a different set of circumstances, your experience with that emotion is more negative. For example, if I were interviewing for a new job, I might experience some feelings of anxiety. This type of anxiety might motivate me to review interview questions, look over my resume, prepare my outfit the night before, or even leave home 30 minutes earlier than usual. My feelings of anxiety motivate me and I respond in positive ways that increase my chances of doing well at my interview.Now say I get that job, fast forward 3 months and it’s the day of my 90 day evaluation. Again, I feel some anxiety, only this time my heart is pounding, my head is throbbing, my palms and forehead are sweaty, my stomach is in knots, and I began to think of the review as my supervisor chastising and berating me, rather than providing constructive criticism that will help me perform better at my job. Under the first set of circumstances, I experienced anxiety more positively as opposed to the second set of circumstances where the anxiety I experienced was negative.
Emotions are multifaceted because of their ability to exist in opposition of each other simultaneously. That’s correct! It’s possible to experience both positive and negative emotions at the same time. Let’s look at the workplace example again. So my friend and I are both up for the same promotion pending a good 90 day evaluation. As it turns out, my friend’s evaluation went better than mine, so she got the promotion. In this instance, I feel both jealousy and excitement towards my friend. I’m excited that she
got the job, the new title, the bigger office, the company perks, and a size-able increase in her salary… but I’m also jealous because SHE got the job, the new title, the bigger office, the company perks, and a size-able increase in HER salary. This situation caused me to feel both positive and negative emotions towards my friend at the same time.
Although situations may cause us to experience the same emotions over and over, the intensity of the emotion varies because emotions often tend to exist on a continuum of initial emotions and underlying emotions. So back to our example about the workplace. My 90 day evaluation wasn’t that hot, now I’ve been placed on an improvement plan and I am furious after meeting with my supervisor. By the end of the day I’ve calmed down some but I’m still pretty upset and by the next week, my anger has dissolved into feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy. As the intensity of the initial emotion decreases, the underlying emotions become more apparent.
If we were to simplify the events that were discussed in the examples, we’d have something like this:
“I’m happy about my new job.”
“I’m scared about my evaluation.”
“I’m happy about my friend’s promotion but sad for myself.”
“I’m mad about being placed on an improvement plan.”
While the above statements about my feelings are not false, they are inaccurate because they fail to convey the complexity, the multifaceted view, and the continuity of what I actually experienced.
Are you often in a bad or snappy mood for no reason? Do your moods change dramatically for the slightest reasons? Do you often overreact to little things or feel unaffected by major change or loss? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, these are signs that you may be emotionally unhealthy.
Life & Wellness offers 5 ways to improve your emotional health:
-A simple “how am I feeling?” or “how has this made me feel?” can redirect you to be more attentive to how you’re feeling
-Whenever you react to something in your environment, your mood changes and if you check in with a *mood scale it can help you identify when your mood changes.
-It’s perfectly natural to react to things but overreacting, as well as underreacting, can leave you emotionally unbalanced. Also, effective coping skills can keep you in a neutral space and ensure that you don’t remain too emotionally low or too emotionally high.
-Don’t second guess your emotions. If you’re experiencing a particular emotion, explore it in a safe place and reassure yourself that it’s okay if you feel that way.
-Let the people you care about know how you’re feeling with the help of a professional if needed.
Our behaviors are the outward manifestation of the emotions we experience. Our emotions affect our total wellness because they can alter how we respond to our environment, how we treat ourselves, and how we interact with the people around us. Being emotionally healthy helps to better prepare us to meet challenges with self-confidence and steadiness.
Next week, we will explore the third facet of health – spiritual health. Our discussion will answer the following questions:
What is spiritual health?
How to identify your spiritual health concerns?
How to take care of your spiritual health?
How does spiritual health affect the quality of your wellness?
*mood scale– rate your mood from 0 to 5 with 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Do this every few hours throughout your day (write it down if you have time) to see how often your mood changes.