The fourth of the four components of health is emotional health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the last three weeks we covered physical, mental, and spiritual health. Striving to attain health in all four areas enhances your overall health.
Emotional health refers to how you deal with life and its ups and downs. Everyone goes through difficult trials. The specifics are different between people. Even for you, there will be a wide variety of difficult times you experience. Everyone has good days. These can be peaceful, contended days; days where you reach a goal; days where you are celebrated; and days when you feel loved and secure.
Your feelings play a big role in your emotional health. People express their feelings in many different ways. Some people are more visibly emotional. Other people keep their emotions carefully hidden from view. Either way, emotions can impact our behaviors. How we act, how we respond, how we treat people, and how we feel about ourselves can all be affected by our emotions.
Why does my emotional health matter?
When looking at the differences between healthy people and not so healthy people, researchers have found emotional health to be a key factor.
How do you handle your anger? How kind are you to yourself in your ‘self talk’? How do you express your joy? What is your response when someone criticizes you? How often do you put other people’s needs before your own? Do you feel like the world is out to get you? How do you respond when your car breaks down? How do you feel when you forget to send a birthday card on time? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?
Studies have shown that prolonged stress and negativity make you age faster. There are actually measurable changes in your brain (shorter telomere length and less activity). This stress can also make you more susceptible to other diseases. Your blood pressure can go up, risk of heart disease goes up, and risk of diabetes goes up.
Improved health does not come from lack of negative situations. It comes from how you handle those situations.
The research has shown that the people who are more emotionally healthy have:
- Friend(s) to talk to
- People who care about you
- A sense of self-worth
- Ability to give and receive forgiveness
- Conflict management skills
- A desire to be giving toward others
- Concern for others
As you can see, these are not things you are born with. They are skills and attitudes you can develop. They are choices you can make. They are best navigated with friends and supportive people around you.
Similarly, other researchers found that keys to overall health are:
- Thinking kindly of people
- Feeling optimistic
- Supportive friends & family
- Ability to bounce back
- Making healthy choices
- Being grateful for all you have
I found it interesting that the findings are so similar. Other studies have supported these important areas of emotional health. When you feel good, your thinking of more creative and flexible. You see problems with more possibilities and solutions.
So, I encourage you to take a personal assessment of your current emotional health. Consider the things that delight you and the things that upset you. Where can you incorporate more of the listed items that are shared among people with more emotional health?
Medications can help on a short-term basis when circumstances have you so upset you can’t function or sleep. Long-term emotional health, however, is gained more through self-insight, positive choices, and self-development.
If you would like citations for the studies mentioned or have any questions about the role of your emotional health on your overall health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.
For further application, check out my personal blog.
(Note, severe abuse, neglect, and trauma are much different than daily negative situations. This blog is not intended to cover the health effects of these experiences that usually involve severe mental illness of the perpetrator.)