Today is World Mental Health Day.
Many people may have experienced negative impacts on their emotional wellbeing in recent months, with heightened stress levels and anxiety in face of the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Catherine Rutland is Clinical Director at Simplyhealth. The organisation has launched a new health and wellbeing app, SimplyMe, to encourage people to lead healthier lives and look after their mental health.
Here, Catherine discusses the importance of positive emotional wellbeing and shares her advice on how to look after your emotional health.
Understanding emotional wellbeing
Your emotional wellbeing is every bit as important as your physical health. It’s described as a state in which you are comfortable, healthy, or happy and is about how we think, feel, behave, and interpret the world around us.
Good emotional health affects our capacity to manage relationships and cope with change or major life events, such as an illness or bereavement. However, being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean being happy all the time. It means being aware of your emotions and knowing how to manage negative feelings.
Some tried and tested ways to maintain positive emotional health include:
Be aware of your emotions
Try to familiarise yourself with your emotions and reactions and notice what makes you feel sad, frustrated, or angry. This will enable you to address those things.
In addition, try to take time to think before you act. This will help you to process your emotions to ensure you react calmly and express your feelings in appropriate ways.
Move to boost your mood
Staying active can play a large part in maintaining positive emotional health.
Regular exercise, especially aerobic activity such as running, cycling, or swimming can help release endorphins. This can help to improve your mood.
Moreover, an active body means an active mind. To give your wellbeing a boost, set aside some time to go for a long walk, cycle, or a jog. You will see the physical health benefits that exercise brings.
Plus, adding regular work outs into your routine can also help to manage issues such as stress and depression.
When you feel lonely or socially isolated, you may experience higher levels of cortisol, an energising hormone which increases the level of blood sugar.
Excess release of cortisol over a long period of time may not only affect your mental wellbeing, it can also affect your physical wellbeing too.
Spending time with friends or keeping in regular contact with loved ones can help to keep negative emotions at bay, and combat feelings of loneliness. In addition, if you are experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety, confiding in those close to you can really help to take a weight off your mind.
There is so much truth in the old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Sometimes just being able to talk about our feelings is enough to relieve some of the pressure. Often, vocalising a worry, however big or small, relieves the sense of loneliness we get when we’re faced with coping with something alone.
Ask for help
Some people find it easier to talk to a friend because it makes them feel more at ease, while others may prefer to chat to a trained counsellor, who can offer their professional advice to get you through a difficult time.
However, if things are more serious, booking an appointment with your GP is advised, as they can offer advice and guidance on counselling and other support services available.
We also publish advice in our magazine every week. Look out for health writer Colleen Shannon’s piece on Seasonal Affective Disorder, in our November 14 issue.
For more on World Mental Health Day, click here.