When was the last time you were happy enough to let that chirpy feeling out as a joyful jig? Was it recently or a long time ago? When was the last time you were upset and cried your heart out until you felt unburdened?
Emotions and their expressions such as these matter a lot as they can affect a person’s daily activities, and overall mental health.
Emotional wellness, experts insist, is a vital aspect of one’s overall wellness; hence a key to overall wellbeing lies in knowing about it and how to achieve or improve it.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests strategies to improve one’s emotional wellness – such as building resilience, having quality sleep, reducing stress, strengthening social connections, learning to cope with loss, and being mindful of one’s thoughts and actions.
Balancing the positive & the negative feelings
According to Dr Aarti Jagannathan, Additional Professor of Psychiatric Social Work at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, ’emotional wellness’ is being able to have emotional composure, and also knowing how to cope with and balance the positive and negative emotions. A person’s emotional health can directly impact overall health; to be strong spirited amidst a tsunami of emotions means one is able to evolve and move on.
Dr Jagannathan says that when an individual gets clarity of emotions, one also gets the ability to handle them effectually. Giving the example of navarasas (nava: nine and rasa: emotions, a term used in the performing arts to depict emotions), she says she looks at emotions as a balance of negative and positive emotions.
So, it is important to control all the negative emotions like anger and disgust, or at least learn how to control and improve them. This way, we deepen our positive emotions like compassion, love, and peace.
Mastering the challenges
Barbie Baruah from Guwahati was among many others who went through a difficult time mentally during the pandemic-induced lockdowns over the last two years. The 22-year-old says, “I was searching for meaning in things, and in my life in general. It’s hard to be emotionally sound when the entire atmosphere of the world has changed so much. But I decided to take concrete steps to be comfortable with my emotions, rather than complain about things.”
The first thing she did was take care of her physical health. “Physical and emotional health are interlinked, which I hadn’t realised before. Moreover, having a safe outlet to express one’s emotions, whether it’s a person or an object as inanimate as a journal, is a must,” she sums up.
Mind and body
When one is highly emotional, be it for a negative or positive reason, it affects one not just mentally and emotionally but also physically in some way or the other. Mentioning the psychosomatic (or the mind-body interaction) challenge as an aspect of emotional wellness, Dr Jagannathan says that taking care of emotional wellness is necessary for a person to have a balanced life, and to lead the life one wants to.
Emotionally strong people are also mindful and calm. It does not necessarily imply that an individual must be constantly cheerful. Rather, an emotionally conscious or balanced state prompts a joyful and peaceful life and helps such people to achieve their full potential.
According to Bengaluru-based psychologist Dr Jini K Gopinath, emotional wellness is important because of these reasons:
- It is well connected with an individual’s day-to-day life.
- Being interlinked with physical wellness, it makes a person physically vulnerable.
Those small steps
There are no definite ways to improve one’s emotional well-being. However, Dr Gopinath suggests adopting these practices to reach it.
- Physical activity
Some sort of physical activity for at least 30-40 minutes a day can uplift a person’s mood and emotional state.
- Seven to eight hours of sleep
Poor sleep is known to interfere with one’s emotional regulation.
- Eating right, on time
Irregular eating habits can cause blood sugar level variations, and this can also interfere with one’s emotions.
- A recreational activity every day
Including a hobby, sport or recreational activity into one’s daily routine can make a person happy and contented.
- Maintaining healthy relationships
It is important to have healthy relationships with people around, connect, speak and share one’s feelings with them.
Keeping a journal can make a person emotionally aware.