Emotions send us important messages to help us connect with others. They are what drives us to success and what drives us to failure. For many people, emotions can be scary, because we just don’t know how to deal with them. Unhealthily dealing with our feelings can damage our relationships, jobs or health. Instead of facing our feelings, we do things to distract us from them.
Drinking alcohol, shopping and eating are the most common unhealthy distractions from our emotions.
Alcohol is a depressant; therefore, drinking only makes us more emotional. Some foods can actually cancel out chemicals in the brain, causing fatigue and depression. Shopping does not necessarily have any direct reaction with depression, but breaking the bank won’t help your emotions either. These are all things that may make you feel good in the short-term, but have long-term negative consequences.
Stop resisting the way you’re feeling.
Not everyone needs a therapist to help him or her deal with his or her emotions. Get in a habit of taking a moment to consider how you’re actually feeling.Denying your emotions will cause a build up that will do much more damage over time. Allow yourself to be sad. Cry if you feel like it. When you don’t deal with the source of your pain, it is likely to come out in other ways as displaced emotions.
Take care of your body.
To have healthy mental and emotional health, you have to take care of your body. Get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Learn about good nutrition and practice it. The better you eat, the better you can feel. Physical activity relaxes your muscles and improves concentration, motivation, memory and mood. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Sunlight also has the ability to lift your mood. Try getting 15 minutes of sunshine per day, or go for a long walk outside and kill two birds with one stone!
Make free time a priority.
Start doing things for fun. Having time to yourself is a necessity in healthy emotional and mental health. Take a walk around the neighborhood, watch a funny movie, take a dance class or read a good book. During this free time, take a moment to pay attention to what makes you feel happy.
Surround yourself with people that will lift you up, not bring you down.
Humans have an emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others. Our brains literally crave companionship. Regardless of how much time you spend trying to improve your emotional health, you still need the company of others to truly feel happy. Spend time with supportive people, who you can talk to regularly. Find someone who will listen without judging you. The best way to find a good listener is to be a good listener.
Use creative activities, like journaling or drawing, to express emotions.
Creative activities have been used to help people become more expressive and communicate better. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for years, but becoming a journalism major was one of the best decisions I ever made. Writing helps to organize emotions. When you write, you force your emotions to the surface; all of your emotions rush out of your heart and mind and onto paper.
Not feeling bad is not the same as feeling good. Being emotionally healthy is more than being free of depression or anxiety. Some people may not have negative emotions, but they still need to do things to make them feel better about themselves. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be prepared to deal with challenges in the future.