What Is Mental Health or Emotional Health?
Mental or emotional health refers to your overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties.
Good mental health isn't just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Similarly, not feeling bad is not the same as feeling good. While some people may not have negative feelings, they still need to do things that make them feel positive in order to achieve mental and emotional health.
When we have good mental health, we’re in a place of peace and balance with our social, emotional and psychological states. We have found a life that fits our needs for social connections with others. We deal with tragedy and happiness in our lives, and authentically experience all the emotions open to us. A person finds coping strategies and recognizes the connections between thoughts and emotions (and that they work both ways).
Personal Power (pdf)
Finding Optimism offers a mood tracking application, designed to help increase your understanding of the things that affect your mental health. The app acts as a springboard to detect patterns in your health and develop strategies to proactively manage your general mental health.
Good Reasons to Use a Mood Chart
Triggers and warning signs: By using a mood chart you can monitor the patterns in your life and identify negative influences (or "triggers") that you need to avoid, and early warning signs that your health is deteriorating.
Wellness strategies: A mood chart can help you to find the small things, as well as the big, that help you to stay well. It can show you the impact of the positive strategies that you adopt on your well-being.
Planning for health: A mood chart should help you form an understanding of your triggers and symptoms, and which health strategies work for you. A good mood chart should help you plan for good health, not just keep a record of illness.
Taking Care of Yourself
In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up. Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if and when they arise.
Taking care of yourself includes pursuing activities that naturally release endorphins and contribute to feeling good. In addition to physical exercise, endorphins are also naturally released when we:
- Do things that positively impact others. Being useful to others and being valued for what you do can help build self-esteem.
- Practice self-discipline. Self-control naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness and can help you overcome despair, helplessness, and other negative thoughts.
- Learn or discover new things. Think of it as “intellectual candy." Try taking an adult education class, join a book club, visit a museum, learn a new language, or simply travel somewhere new.
- Enjoy the beauty of nature or art. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. The same goes for strolling through a park or an art gallery, hiking, admiring architecture, or sitting on a beach.
- Manage your stress levels. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance.
- Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Try to avoid becoming absorbed by repetitive mental habits – negative thoughts about yourself and the world that suck up time, drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.
More tips and strategies for taking care of yourself:
- Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
- Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it – things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.
- Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
- Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.