Self-help

The Importance of Emotional Health and How to Improve It

How you deal with stressful life events, everyday annoyances, and the negative and positive emotions in life’s general ebb and flow all comes down to your emotional health.  Keep reading to discover the significance of emotional health, what “good” emotional health looks like, and how to keep yours in shape.   What Is Emotional Health?  Much […]

isbell oliva garcia grow therapy By Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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How you deal with stressful life events, everyday annoyances, and the negative and positive emotions in life’s general ebb and flow all comes down to your emotional health. 

Keep reading to discover the significance of emotional health, what “good” emotional health looks like, and how to keep yours in shape.  

What Is Emotional Health? 

Much like physical health, emotional health is something you should try and keep in optimal condition. Adopting good lifestyle habits and behaviors to protect and maintain a healthy body helps you remain prepared for threats, illness, and the day-to-day toll of life. This is similar to how you should approach emotional health.

Emotional health isn’t about being in a good mood all the time; it’s about being aware of your emotions and dealing with them — whether they’re good or bad. One of the differences between an emotionally healthy person and an emotionally unhealthy person is their navigation of negative feelings — like anger, stress, or sadness — and their tools to cope with them. 

Emotional health is the state of well-being where a person can manage emotions, cope with stress, and have positive relationships regardless of life circumstances.

- Melissa Galica, LPC

Being emotionally healthy also means being able to keep your problems in perspective, bouncing back from setbacks, and, importantly, knowing when to seek outside support or visit a healthcare professional. 

According to Melissa Galica, a licensed professional counselor with Grow Therapy, emotional health is “the state of well-being where a person can manage emotions, cope with stress, and have positive relationships regardless of life circumstances. I like to call this the ‘I’m OK no matter what’ factor.”

Research has shown that emotional health is a skill, and we think it’s one worth mastering. 

How Is Emotional Health Different From Mental Health?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health includes our emotional, social, and psychological well-being. Therefore, emotional health is a subset of mental health. Emotional wellness is about how we cope with our positive and negative emotions. 

In looking after our emotional health, we can contribute to the condition of our mental health — and overall health — as long as we’re taking care of the other factors too.

Good Emotional Health vs. Poor Emotional Health

Julia Preamplume, a licensed clinical social worker with Grow Therapy, believes that someone with sound emotional health “reaches out to their support system, makes sure they are getting enough sleep, practices radical acceptance towards difficult thoughts and feelings, and participates in self-compassion.”

Instead of suppressing or ruminating on negative emotions, the goal of acceptance as a practice of emotional regulation isn’t to change the emotions you’re experiencing but to receive them without trying to control them.

“Recognizing you want to do something and doing it without explanation or feeling guilty for doing it, and having healthy boundaries with others so that their judgment or decisions don’t affect you are examples of good emotional health in a person,” emphasizes JohnNeiska Williams, an LPC with Grow Therapy.

“Ideally, emotionally healthy people take care of themselves, first and foremost — and this is not narcissism,” says Galica. “Emotionally healthy people also have a toolbox of coping skills for stress management and build strong networks of people who support them and help them grow,” she adds.

Examples of Poor Emotional Health

Our experts share what the manifestations of poor emotional health can look like.

An emotionally unhealthy person:

Additionally, a person who doesn’t manage their emotional well-being may also face physiological repercussions. 

Why Is Emotional Health So Important? 

Emotional health can have an impact on many aspects of your life, which is why it’s so important to prioritize taking care of it. Not only does optimal emotional health enable you to work productively, but it can also let you realize your full potential, give you a sense of purpose, help you communicate with others, and contribute to society.

“Our emotional health is how we get around in the world. It also can literally change our life spans. Research shows that individuals with good emotional health tend to be physically better, reducing the rates of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes,” advises Galica. 

Those with good mental states also tend to have lower blood pressure and a healthier weight.

Research shows that individuals with good emotional health tend to be physically better, reducing the rates of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

- Melissa Galica, LPC

What Is an Example of a Mind-Body Connection?

The link between emotional health and physical health is closer than we think. The “mind/body connection” theory suggests that when you experience negative emotions such as anger, stress, or sadness, the body has a physical reaction. For example, you could face high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer if you encounter a stressful event.

Other health issues that can manifest from poor emotional well-being include:

“Recognizing the mind-body connection is so important. The brain helps regulate many of the systems within our body, so if we are struggling with poor emotional health, it only makes sense that other parts of our body are impacted,” informs Preamplume. 

Causes of Emotional Health Problems 

“There isn’t one particular thing that causes someone to have poor emotional health,” says Galica. “There are a lot of factors that can lead up to it.”

A few factors include, but aren’t limited to:

If any of these points seem familiar to you, or you think that you are experiencing or at risk of experiencing poor emotional health, there are steps that you can take.

How To Improve Your Emotional Health

As previously mentioned, emotional health is a skill, and just as you would polish other skills — such as playing an instrument, studying a foreign language, or practicing a sport — it’s important to put self-care habits into place that will increase your chances of having optimal emotional health.  

Here are some healthy ways to improve your emotional well-being:

Reduce Stress 

Stress can sometimes be helpful and gives us a quick boost when we need it most. But when it’s experienced over a long period, it can become chronic stress — and that’s not helpful. 

Exercise can be great for reducing stress; even 30 minutes of walking a day can boost your mood. Walking doesn’t have to be boring if you listen to an audiobook or an interesting podcast. 

Build Resilience

“We’ll all face difficulties in our lives. Having good emotional health is important so that we can learn to face these challenges in appropriate ways,” says Preamplume. And this is where resilience comes in.

To build resilience, try looking at problems from different angles and consider challenging situations as opportunities to grow instead of black holes to fall into. 

You could also try focusing on the positive things in your life by practicing gratitude. Harvard Medical School published a study where a focus group wrote a few sentences of gratitude every week for ten weeks. After this period, they were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.

Cope With Loss 

Many things in life are beyond our control, such as losing a job or getting a divorce. . While the grieving process can be overwhelming, try to surround yourself with friends and family. 

A grief support group may also help you deal with your emotional distress as you speak with people experiencing similar feelings. 

Most importantly, be patient with yourself because mourning takes time. 

Strengthen Social Connections

Building a healthy support system can have powerful effects on your physical and emotional health — whether it’s with a romantic partner, family, caregivers, friends, or neighbors. 

If you want to expand your circle beyond family and friends, try joining a group that takes part in an activity you’re interested in, or volunteer for causes you care about in your community. 

Be Mindful

Mindfulness can improve emotional health skills,” says Preamplume, “It involves experiencing thoughts and emotions without judgment and exploring them with curiosity.”

Mindfulness is also about staying present in the moment, and not living your life on autopilot. In stressful situations, this deep breathing exercise from the National Institutes of Health might help you feel calmer: “Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4, hold for 1 second, and then exhale through the mouth to a count of 5. Repeat often.”

Square breathing is a technique that can help manage stress and promote your overall well-being. Find out how to master this tool here

Being more mindful also includes awareness of the body. Mentally scan your body from head to toe and focus your attention on how each body part feels. 

Get Quality Sleep 

A lot can be said for a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Maintaining optimal emotional health will be difficult if you’re tired — good sleep helps you think and focus more clearly. 

To achieve superior sleep hygiene, try the following:

Also, look to expose yourself to natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day – the earlier in the morning, the better. 

Go To Talk Therapy

Preamplume advises that a therapist may be able to help someone struggling with emotional health by teaching them healthy coping strategies, self-compassion, and mindfulness strategies. Mental health professionals can also provide a safe and supportive space to share the challenges someone is facing.

Leaning on Therapy to Improve Emotional Wellbeing

As with all skills, keeping them in good shape takes practice and effort. The more you can implement the habits of an emotionally healthy person into your life, the more likely you are to experience emotional well-being for yourself.

It’s unrealistic to think you can overhaul your life overnight, so start small. Introduce healthy habits one at a time, and as you get used to them, do them more frequently and incrementally add more habits to your routine. 

If you’re struggling with your emotional or mental health, our therapists can help you acquire the tools you need to be able to cope in the future. Galica concludes, “We work on self-esteem building, getting in the habit of choosing what’s good for you, identifying feelings, and making sure those feelings belong to you and not someone else. We practice coping skills and ways to approach a stressful situation while still saying ‘I’m OK.’”

Don’t feel as though you need to navigate your emotional well-being alone. Grow therapy is home to many excellent therapists specializing in a wide range of psychological concerns — including poor emotional health. Use our search tool today to find a therapist in your state who specializes in your area of need and accepts your insurance type. 

FAQs

  • Having good self-awareness, emotional regulation, coping skills, and relationships with others.

  • Because emotional health and mental health are somewhat synonymous, it can be easy to understand if someone struggles in any or all of the categories of emotional health, they will probably have mental health problems, too.

  • Researchers have found that those who are emotionally healthy tend to be physically healthy as well. Also, remember that’s a two-way street; poor physical health can be a contributor to poor emotional health.

  • They’re probably more recognized as mood disorders in mental health, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD, to name just a few.

About the author
isbell oliva garcia grow therapy Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Isbell Oliva-Garcia is a licensed mental health counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish. Isbell specializes in women's issues during difficult times of transition and also works with front-line individuals struggling with PTSD or stressors created by the job.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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