Our health is multifaceted. To achieve optimal health and wellness, we must not only obtain one form of health, but also consider the other 8 dimensions of wellness.
One crucial dimension of wellness is, "emotional wellness".
As you might imagine, our happiness and mental health are linked closely to our emotional wellness. While emotional wellness garners far less attention than some other dimensions, like physical wellness, it is essential for our health.
Today, we explore the meaning of emotional wellness and its role in our well-being.
Emotional wellness involves psychological care. The National Center for Emotional Wellness defines it as “refers to an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of our feelings, and our ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.” This is a part of emotional wellness, including experiencing the range of human emotions, finding a positive outlook, and emotionally overcoming challenges.
People with good emotional wellness are not always happy. They still feel negative emotions, but they can recognize these emotions and reconcile them. Emotionally-stabled people can still function daily despite having negative feelings.
To truly understand emotional wellness, we must understand what emotions are. The American Psychological Association defines emotion as “a complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioral, and physiological elements, by which individual attempts to deal with a personally significant matter or event.” The element of the event that is significant is what determines which emotion the person experiences. At the same time, emotions involve feelings connected to a substantial engagement in the world.
Emotional wellness is a crucial component of our overall health. In essence, emotional wellness is part of what determines our overall well-being. A paper from the BMJ discussed how important emotional well-being is for our health and how it is tied to other facets of well-being, like physical well-being¹. The article states that “research shows that emotional distress creates susceptibility to physical illness.” Additionally, they found that emotional health facilitates recovery and protects us from premature mortality.
Cultivating emotional health is crucial for finding happiness and success. We will all face hardships and challenges, much of what determines our outcomes is how we respond to these difficult times. Those with excellent emotional wellness can deal with many of life’s challenges, including stressors, relationships, responsibilities, upsetting events, exciting events, and unanticipated situations.
Life is not always easy, but that is not what emotional health is about. Emotional wellness does not mean you are perfect and free from negative thoughts. Instead, it means you can handle all of life’s uncertainties and obstacles with confidence and resilience to rebound when things don’t go as planned quickly.
Properly managing emotions helps us make better, smarter decisions. Emotions compellingly drive decision-making, so navigating those emotions is critical for making the best decision possible². As we know, making better decisions based on realism leads to better outcomes more than overly pessimistic or optimistic choices³. Emotional health helps us make more realistic decisions, which leads us to better results that help build our fulfillment.
Additionally, emotional health is critical for relationships. We need emotional balance to help us effectively interact with those in our lives. Relationships are part of social wellness, which is also crucial for our health. Still, we cannot correctly navigate relationships if we are not emotionally healthy ourselves. Weak emotional health strains relationships because we cannot correctly handle the everyday ups and downs of social interactions.
One of the most important ways your emotional health affects you is through your physical health. Emotional and physical well-being are profoundly connected. One study found that emotional valence reduced physical conditions because the mind and body interact so closely⁴. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “poor mental health (including emotional wellness) is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions.”⁵ The connection between our emotional and physical health is incredibly powerful, which is one reason is imperative that you strive for emotional wellness.
A student under extreme stress from college and work, but instead of pulling an all-nighter, he goes home to spend time with his girlfriend, knowing that he did his best to prepare for the upcoming exam
The key to emotional wellness is choosing how to respond to what happens to you. It is understanding your bad feelings and days but choosing to live your life in a way that is best for you.
Eat whole foods. Your diet impacts your mood and emotional regulation. Choose whole, unprocessed foods and reduce your risk of depression, stress, and anxiety⁷.
Meditate. Learning how to be in the present and how to manage your emotions is critical for emotional wellness. Practice meditation to relax and find inner peace, which will help you manage stress, anxiety, and depression⁸.
Be grateful. Take time out of each day to think about or write down the positive things in your life. Remembering what we appreciate helps us find happiness and better mental health⁹.
Socialize. Connecting with other people and fostering relationships will help you gain the social support that you need to handle even the most difficult situations with confidence.
Supplements. Our diets often lack some essential vitamins and minerals that can help us regulate our moods and emotions. For the extra boost toward emotional well-being, incorporate some top mood-enhancing supplements like B vitamins, Selenium, Rhodiola Rosea, Hyperforin/ St. John’s Wort, and Vitamin D, and 5-HTP.
There are many ways to enhance your emotional wellness and move toward a healthier life overall. Emotional well-being is just as important as physical health, and it is something you should incorporate into your everyday life.
(1) Stewart-Brown, S (December 1998) Emotional wellbeing and its relation to health. Physical disease may well result from emotional distress
(2) Lerner, J, et. al (June 2014) Emotion and Decision Making
(3) de Meza, D; Dawson, C (July 2020) Neither an Optimist Nor a Pessimist Be: Mistaken Expectations Lower Well-Being
(4)Lee YS; Jung WM; Jang H; Kim S; Chung SY; Chae Y (February 2017) The dynamic relationship between emotional and physical states: an observational study of personal health records
(5) Canadian Mental Health Association. Connection Between Mental and Physical Health
(6) Weir, K (December 2011) The exercise effect
(7) Selhub, E (November 2015) Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food
(8) Welch, A (April 2019) How Meditation Can Improve Your Mental Health
(9) Wong, YJ; Owen, J; Gabana, N; Brown, J; McInnis, S; Toth, P; Gilman, L (May 2016) Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial