Health is more than just physical
Emotional health is influenced by our body, our mind, our actions, and our relationships. Social media is a strong presence in many of our lives. As I’ve scrolled through Instagram or built boards on Pinterest I’ve noticed that “health” boards and tags are more targeted towards our physical health – diets, exercise, recipes for lower calorie options or “tricks” to get rid of that “stubborn x, y, z.” Though I’ve seen some change (thankfully!) – mental health posts are harder to come by when you are searching “health” than physical health posts.
This got me thinking – especially as a therapist who focuses on relationship dynamics and emotional well-being – have we forgotten that emotional health is key to overall health? Positive relationships and the way you present yourselves to others are key ingredients to overall health. There are many aspects to overall health. Here are some things to work on as you try to better yourself and improve the relationships in your life:
1. Physical Exercise
Yes, after all that I will start by saying: physical health is important. Exercise is a key component of that. Not only will you reap physical benefits like a healthy weight and heart health, but you can enjoy the endorphins that happen after a workout. Keeping fit helps you feel good. And feeling good makes it easier to have high spirits, keeps your energy up throughout your day, and improves your self-esteem. In turn, feeling good makes it easier to be patient with others and have a better disposition in your relationships. In the words of Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands.”
2. Grooming and Hygiene
It might sound superficial, but taking a few minutes to look your best in the morning can really turn your day around. Feeling good about how you present yourself can give you confidence and boost your emotional health. You’re giving yourself the message that you are worth it. It might also affect the way others react to you. Who doesn’t feel good when they get a compliment about looking nice? Showing you care about yourself encourages others to show respect and care for you as well.
A healthy diet obviously contributes to your physical health, but it can also improve your emotional health. Certain healthy foods give you a natural serotonin boost. This will help you feel happy and give you a sense of well-being. Sure, sometimes it’s OK to splurge on your favorite guilty pleasure like a piece of cheesecake, but making a conscious effort to a balanced died will pay off in more ways than one. Our diet effects our energy levels, our skin, ability to concentrate, sleep, emotions, and self-esteem. Have you ever been hangry? Then you can understand just how much food can play a role in our emotions!
4. Spiritual Practices
Spiritual and religious practices can help your emotional health by helping you ground yourself . They also encourage you to think about what’s important in life and what’s important to you. Spiritual endeavors often focus on an improvement of self and benevolence towards others; two things that will give you a sense of well-being and calmness. Finding a religious or spiritual community can also give you a sense of community and an outlet in times of stress. This could be joining a church, yoga class, online group, or following a guided meditation.
Friendships are a key aspect to emotional health. Feeling alone in the world can lead to anxiety, sadness, and even depression. Friends give you someone to talk to in times of stress, can help you work through problems, and provide love and comfort when you most need it. Knowing that you are loved and valued is vital to emotional health, so make an effort to cultivate meaningful friendships in your life. It’s not about quantity, just quality – don’t worry about having the most friends, just ones that really care and are supportive.
6. Relationship Health
Having a positive relationship with your significant other is another essential to your overall health. We all know how having a bad relationship where you fight all the time can be so draining and make you lose sleep, feel sick, and just hate life. Positive communication with a partner who supports you and loves you will do loads towards your overall health and a happy life in general. If you notice unhealthy patterns in your relationship, couples counseling can help you rewire the way you both act in the relationship, creating a more healthy dynamic and improving your emotional health.
7. Emotional Stability
Regulating your emotions will keep you emotionally stable and improve your inner peace and sense of health. When your emotions swing or get taken to extremes, it affects your blood pressure and can cause insomnia, anxiety, and overall just make you feel terrible. Gaining a sense of balance with your emotions calms your nerves and improves your overall health. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, meeting with a professional for counseling will help you gain coping mechanisms and learn how to create more positive habits. Negative self-talk and thoughts can create real negative health consequences!
You need all of these factors to have emotional health. Don’t beat yourself up if you are lacking in one area, but make an effort to work on improvement in that area and bring yourself to a more balanced and positive place. If you are having issues getting a hold on your emotional health, let’s see if a member of the Estes Therapy Team can help!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653