Mental health and emotional health are two terms that are often interchanged, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. Many people eventually realize that emotional health and mental health are important to overall health. In order to consider your mental or emotional health and also improve them, it’s important to understand the differences.
Mental Health and Emotional Health Differences
One difference is that mental health is more about processing information, while emotional health is about managing and expressing your emotions. You can have mental struggles while being emotionally healthy or vice versa. If you have a mental health problem that saps your energy every day, you can still be emotionally healthy if you’re able to deal with your emotions in relation to it. It’s also possible to have good mental health while struggling to regulate and understand your emotions.
What Is Mental Health?
What exactly does it mean to have good mental health? What happens when you’re mentally unhealthy? Your mental health status has to do with your thoughts and actions. It can be psychological, social and emotional. It can also affect your life in many ways, including your relationships, your stress level, your behavior and your mood. If you have mental health issues, they could be related to biological factors, family history, or life experiences like abuse and trauma.
Ways To Maintain Good Mental Health
When your mental health is positive, it allows you to better cope with stress, realize your full potential and be more productive. You can work at maintaining positive mental health through the following methods:
• Enlisting professional help if necessary
• Making positive connections with other people
• Focusing on positive things
• Being physically active
• Helping other people
• Getting plenty of sleep
• Developing healthy coping skills
Signs of Mental Health Problems
Are you wondering if you or someone you love are struggling with mental health problems? There are a number of signs and symptoms that can indicate negative mental health. Some general signs include the following:
• Eating too much or not enough
• Sleeping too much or not enough
• Reduced energy or no energy
• Feeling numb or detached
• Feelings of helplessness
• Mood swings
• Proliferation of negative emotions like confusion, anger, worry, fear
• Random aches and pains for no reason
• Fighting or being on edge with family and friends
Having several of these symptoms together could be a sign that your mental health might need some help. Ignoring these symptoms of poor mental health could also lead to more severe symptoms like the following:
• Drinking or smoking more than usual
• Drug use
• Hearing voices
• Thoughts of harming yourself or someone else
• Inability to conduct your daily life like going to work or taking care of your kids
If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to see a professional and get help before things get worse.
What Is Emotional Health?
Emotional health is all about your emotions. It means having an awareness of your emotions and also being able to express them in a healthy way. Being aware of your own emotions allows you to manage them appropriately. Uncontrolled emotions can affect both your mental and physical health. The difference between someone who has good emotional health versus someone whose emotional health needs work is that the former can accept and manage their emotions through practiced responses and not simply reactions.
It’s also important to understand that a lack of emotions does not constitute good emotional health. Suppressing emotions can be just as detrimental as not expressing your emotions in a healthy way.
Characteristics of Good Emotional Health
There are several indicators that you have good emotional health. One key indicator is self-awareness. Being self-aware means perceiving yourself accurately and seeing how you come off to others. It allows you to recognize your emotions and redirect them if necessary. Emotionally healthy people can handle tough situations with a clear mind. Instead of getting angry in public, they might give themselves space to privately let out anger. A person with good emotional health often engages in self-care in both a mental and physical capacity.
An emotionally healthy person is also able to more easily deal with adversity and setbacks. This is known as emotional agility. They employ healthy coping skills when obstacles enter their lives. People who are not emotionally healthy will often be crushed or strongly upset by adversity, and they may let it negatively influence their mental health as well.
Emotionally healthy people live with purpose and focus less on their inner personal experiences and more on how they interact with others. They acknowledge emotions but are cautious about releasing them if they don’t fit the larger picture. This allows them to manage stress well and be calm when things get chaotic. They often practice moments of mindfulness and serenity.
Ways To Improve Your Emotional Health
Being emotionally healthy is important to both your physical health and mental health. If you want to become more emotionally healthy there are some steps you can take. Practicing mindfulness is an important method for improving your emotional wellness. Mindfulness allows you to focus on the present and be in the moment, which improves self-awareness. Social connections are also important as they give you a positive feedback loop for gauging your emotional wellbeing. Other ways to become more emotionally healthy include the following;
• Accepting things you can’t control
• Engaging in physical exercise
• Journaling to put your emotions into words
• Reflecting on negative patterns of expression
How To Manage Stress
A key aspect to better health emotionally, mentally and physically is managing stress. The inability to manage stress often leads to poor physical health, mental health problems and lack of emotional control. The inability to manage stress can also lead people into substance abuse of drugs or alcohol. What are some good ways to manage stress? Take a look at the following list:
• Physical exercise
• Deep breathing
• Healthy diet
• Good sleep schedule
• Taking breaks
• Making time for hobbies
• Talking about your problems through journaling or chatting
Channeling strong emotions through physical exercise or a hobby is often the best way to deal with stress. Both exercise and hobbies can redirect your energy, get endorphins flowing and eventually lead to a more relaxed body and mind.
If you’re struggling with your emotional or mental health, Dr. Howard Samuels can help. Dr. Samuels is a therapist in Los Angeles that specializes in psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and other methods to promote mental wellness. Contact him today for more information.