“Anyone can become 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.”
So wrote Aristotle more than 2000 years ago in his classic work The Art of Rhetoric. This age-old wisdom sums up the characteristics of an emotionally healthy person, and these are relevant in our contemporary lives as well. Cut to the present, this knowledge has become even more important.
What is emotional health?
Dr Ali Khwaja, a counsellor, columnist, and life skills coach at Banjara Academy, a counselling centre in Bengaluru, says that emotional health is a state of psychological well-being in which an individual possesses the ability to effectively manage their emotions, respond to life’s challenges, and maintain a balanced and positive outlook. “It involves understanding, acknowledging and coping with a wide range of emotions from joy and contentment to sadness, anger, and stress, in a way that contributes to overall mental and social well-being,” he says.
Characteristics of an emotionally healthy person
Dr Khwaja says that an emotionally healthy or secure person has a keen sense of awareness, especially with their emotions. They can effectively manage their own emotions and understand the feelings of those around them, and display empathy towards others.
Dr Neelam Mishra, a clinical psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, says that it involves recognising and expressing feelings while coping with stress in a positive manner. “They are capable of adapting to all kinds of situations that life throws at them,” she says.
Both Dr Khwaja and Dr Mishra list out the seven habits of an emotionally secure people
Flexibility is key: According to Dr Khwaja, an emotionally healthy person has a special knack for looking at a situation carefully. They take notice of their surroundings and how others are reacting to what is happening. Emotional person are flexible enough to mould themselves according to their surroundings. They can stand up for themselves when it is necessary, but they can also let others have the final say.
In life and in relationships, they approach things with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. They understand that sometimes they might need to change their approach when what they are doing is not working.
The art of expressing emotions: The importance of emotional wellness, according to Dr Mishra, comes from knowing when to control our feelings and when to let them flow. Expressing emotions is a sign of sincerity rather than weakness. Emotionally healthy people strike a balance between suppressing and letting their emotions flow naturally. They develop a deep connection with other people.
Coping with grace: In a world loaded with challenges, emotional resilience is an important trait to develop. Mishra points out that emotionally healthy people develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and difficult situations. Whether it is through exercise, meditation, or simply confiding in a trusted friend or therapist, they confront life’s trials with courage and grace.
Developing positive relationships: Our emotional health is profoundly influenced by the quality of our relationships. Ali Khwaja stresses that an emotionally healthy person is adept at maintaining positive connections with others. This involves checking in regularly, expressing gratitude, and showing empathy. The ability to build and sustain strong, positive relationships is proof of emotional maturity.
Bouncing back from setbacks: Resilience is the backbone of emotional health. According to Dr Mishra, an emotionally healthy person has a remarkable ability to bounce back from life’s setbacks. “They perceive adversity as an opportunity for growth and learning rather than an insurmountable obstacle,” she says. By reframing setbacks, they build resilience and develop the strength to tackle future challenges head-on.
Prioritising self-care: Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity for emotional well-being. Khwaja and Mishra both emphasise the importance of taking time for ourselves. Engaging in activities that bring them joy and relaxation, whether it is reading, taking a leisurely bath, or simply going for a walk, is a fundamental habit of emotionally healthy individuals. This self-nurturing strengthens their mind and heart, making them better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
Cultivating purpose and meaning: An emotionally healthy person is driven by a deep understanding of their values and goals. They actively work towards fulfilling them, creating a life filled with purpose and significance. This sense of purpose helps them in stabilising their emotions.
Dr Mishra suggests the following ways to incorporate these habits into one’s daily routine for better mental health and well-being:
- Start each day with an affirmation or gratitude practice to cultivate a positive outlook.
- Take time each day to check in with your emotions and identify any areas of stress or discomfort.
- Practise healthy coping mechanisms for stress, such as exercise, meditation, or talking to a trusted friend or therapist.
- Prioritise time with loved ones and maintain positive relationships by regularly checking in and expressing gratitude.
- Cultivate resilience by reframing setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning.
- Make time for self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, taking a bath, or going for a walk.
Identify your values and goals and work towards fulfilling them to cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in your life.