A 4-Part Series throughout Mental Health Awareness Month
Part 2: The relationships between Mental Health and Emotional Health
As we dive deeper into May and reflect on Mental Health Awareness Month, it is essential to recognize that mental health does not just encompass mental health disorders but includes the well being of our emotional health. Mental health is something we need to look after, make time for, and is an essential component of our daily lives. Our emotions are deeply tied to our mental health, and when our mental health is compromised, our emotional health can also take a toll.
Our mental health encompasses four significant pillars: physical health, emotional health, cognitive fitness, and physical health. Last week, we discussed the relationship between mental health and physical health. This week we will be discussing the relationship between emotional health and mental health.
What is emotional health?
Emotional health is often used interchangeably with mental health, and although both are connected, these terms have quite different meanings.
Emotional health refers to having an awareness of our feelings and emotions as well as having the ability to manage and express these feelings in an age-appropriate fashion.
Our emotions range from angry, sad, and frustrated to happy, surprised, and content. We often express our emotions through facial expression, body language, tone of voice, and physiological responses. For example, when we are angry, we may frown, turn away, yell, and begin to sweat or turn red.
The link between mental health and emotional health
Our mental health refers to the ability to process information. Emotional health refers to our ability to express emotions based on the information we have processed. When our internal processing system goes array, this can trigger inappropriate expressions of emotions. Our internal processing system can go array during times of stress, trauma, depression, or when we neglect our self-care routines. Our thoughts can become twisted, and our reality can often become misinterpreted.
If your mental health is in jeopardy, you may be more likely to experience emotional outbursts that cannot only negatively affect you but affect others around you. For example, if you are experiencing untreated depression, grief, or unresolved trauma, you may find yourself lashing out at others without reason. You may find yourself unloading your emotions in a public space, in the workplace, or during an important meeting. Experiencing emotions, whether they are positive or negative, is healthy. Still, when these emotions become excessive, irrational, and ongoing and interfere with your daily life, your emotional health may be at risk. If you do not nourish your mental health daily, your emotional health can be affected because you are unable to process information in a healthy manner.
Your emotional health can be in jeopardy without having a mental health disorder.
We often associate mental health with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar affective disorder. This is only half of our mental health. The other half of our mental health has nothing to do with disorders but has everything to do with how we allow ourselves to process information, especially in stressful times, and not all stress is necessarily negative. Positive stress includes buying a new home, having a baby, planning a wedding, gaining a new job or promotion, or planning a big celebratory event.
Being in control of our emotions
Humans are emotional creatures. Everyone cries, laughs, and becomes angry. We feel guilt, sadness, frustration, and gratitude. It is perfectly healthy to acknowledge and “feel” these emotions. However, when we are no longer able to control how and when we express our emotions, our mental health may be compromised. Giving ourselves space and compassion to be able to identify a situation and react appropriately is a primary pillar to maintaining our mental health through our emotional well being. So how can we maintain our emotional health?
- Be aware of upsetting emotions as they arise.
- Be aware of negative self-talk and replace this with self-love and compassion.
- Stay curious about your thoughts and reactions. Ask yourself, “why do I react this way?”
“Anyone can be angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.”
We must take more time to nourish our emotions so we can also protect our mental health.
Check back next week to read about the connection between our cognition and mental health.
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