Improving Your Emotional Health

blacl and white photo of a woman stoof with her back to the camera on a pier overlooking the sea.
Many people focus on their physical well-being by eating right, exercising and visiting the doctor, but often they neglect something equally as important–their emotional health. Being emotionally healthy primarily requires the ability to be honest with oneself and others and focus on the positive aspects of life. People who suppress their wants, needs and passions typically don’t get what they want in life and tend to push people away. Making a commitment to nurturing your emotional health is the first step to living with purpose, values and respect for yourself and others.

Step 1

Express your emotions without fear, shame or guilt. Emotionally healthy people allow themselves to feel joy, anger, sadness and disappointment without judging those feelings. “Emotions such as anxiety, anger or envy intensify when we try to suppress them, when we try fight them and block their natural flow,” says Tal Ben-Shahar, author of “The Pursuit of Perfect.” Whether your emotions are positive or negative, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.

Step 2

Realize all that you have to be grateful for. Write down the big and small things that bring you pleasure, comfort and security and add something to the list each day. Individuals who focus on the people, places and things for which they’re grateful tend to be happier and more at ease than those who constantly look to the future or feel they are lacking something.

Step 3

Communicate honestly with the people in your life. “Nothing can be more frustrating than what is referred to as an incongruent communication, where an individual says one thing yet indicates something dramatically different with his or her nonverbal conduct,” says relationship expert Phil McGraw. If someone who’s hurt you asks if anything’s wrong and you reply, “No,” you’re not only being dishonest but also impeding your chance to correct or improve the situation.

Step 4

Accept yourself as you are. When you accept yourself without condition, you’ll feel more emotionally healthy, feel free to take risks and more than likely accept others for who they are, say Lynne Kelly and Arden K. Watson, authors of “Speaking With Confidence and Skill.” They add that if you do not accept yourself, you probably think poorly of others as well and might unknowingly communicate that dislike to them.

Step 5

Nurture your zest for life. Think about what you want to achieve in this lifetime and go for it. Whether you want a fulfilling intimate relationship or have always wanted to climb a mountain, make a plan to get what you want and work toward those goals. Emotionally healthy people allow themselves to be vulnerable and take risks even when the possibility of failure looms.

Step 6

Understand that bad things happen to everyone; resiliency is what separates people who consider themselves winners from those who feel unsuccessful. When you fail at something–and everyone does–pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Learn from your mistakes without taking your failure personally or dwelling on “what ifs.” Doing so will only waste valuable time you could spend on achieving your goals.

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