Emotional health and wellbeing
18th October 2019
Whether you are on a fertility journey or not, your emotional health should be a top priority. In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what emotional health is and how you can invest in yours.
What is emotional health and wellbeing?
Our emotional health is an intrinsic part of an overall healthy lifestyle and is also sometimes called emotional wellbeing. Maintaining good emotional health is all about our ability to manage and regulate our emotions and building up resilience when we face tough times. Whilst it’s great to feel positive emotions, good emotional health doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be happy all the time.
Emotionally healthy people will still experience stress, anger and fear – they’re an unavoidable part of the human experience! However, if you are able to understand and process your emotions in a healthy way, it will make you much better at dealing with adversity. Our emotional health is something we have to invest in and work at. Whilst managing our feelings internally is part of it, it’s also about how we express those feelings to each other and the impact those behaviours have on our relationships.
Emotional health vs mental health
Emotional and mental health are intrinsically linked, and the terms are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few important differences. The best way to think about it is that mental health and emotional wellbeing are a bit like a team – you can’t have one without the other. Mental health refers to the way we process information. It is to do with the cognitive way the brain understands situations – this can be impaired by chemical imbalances caused by mental illness, such as depression. On the other hand, emotional health refers to how we process and express our feelings. If your mental health is suffering, it’s likely that your ability to regulate your emotions will be depleted, so it’s important to consider both when it comes to your overall wellbeing.
The benefits of good emotional health
It’s common knowledge that looking after your mental health will have wide-reaching benefits for your overall quality of life. The same also goes for emotional health! As our mind, body and emotions are so intrinsically connected, there is a positive knock-on effect when you nurture at least one of these areas. For example, there are evident physical benefits of investing in your emotional health. Research shows that when you are emotionally distressed, you are more vulnerable to illness as your immune system is compromised. You also tend to have more energy if you are in a positive, emotionally robust place. When we are struggling to cope with stress or negativity, our mental resources become rung out, which can lead to exhaustion.
However, there are not just physical benefits to good emotional health. One of the biggest positives about improved emotional wellbeing is deeper, healthier relationships. When you’re confident in managing and expressing your own feelings, it allows you to be more compassionate to others. Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, you’ll be able to connect on a more meaningful level. This ability to communicate your feelings will also help you navigate disagreements and hold your own in arguments – this could help you avoid toxic relationships with emotionally manipulative people.
Our emotional health also supports a good relationship with ourselves. Your self-esteem can take a hit if you’re struggling to cope with stress or if negative thoughts are taking over your headspace. If you’ve invested in your emotional wellbeing and have built up resilience, you will be able to see the best in yourself despite the challenges going on around you.
How to improve your emotional health
Just as we invest in our physical health and wellbeing, we need to make sure we are nurturing our emotional health in the same way.
Here are a few ideas of ways you can improve your emotional health.
Express your feelings in healthy ways
If you’re experiencing negative emotions, internalising them will only make you feel worse. Sometimes it can be tempting to bury our heads in the sand and ignore how we’re feeling. In some cases, it can be difficult to vocalise our concerns or anxieties, as that will make them real. However, not only will bottling up these negative emotions impact your emotional wellbeing, but they could also lead to more serious mental or physical health issues.
Opening up to your friends a family can also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness – two huge enemies of emotional health. Part of being emotionally healthy is knowing when to ask for help and support. If this is something you find difficult, a therapist or counsellor may be able to help you get more comfortable with being vulnerable.
Look after yourself
Self-care is one of the most important parts of maintaining good emotional wellbeing. Whilst self-care can mean different things to different people, there are a few fundamentals that will help anyone feel better in themselves! Sleep is a huge part of self-care. We should all be trying to get at least 8 hours of shut-eye a night, with a minimum of 7. Sleep deprivation is known to deplete our emotional resilience, making it harder to process our feelings and more permeable to negativity.
A healthy, nutritious diet is another cornerstone of self-care. Whilst that doesn’t mean that it’s not ok to occasionally enjoy a night on the sofa with a glass of red and a bar of chocolate (arguably another act of self-care!), you should be trying to get as many vitamins and nutrients as possible from your diet. Looking after yourself means making healthy choices. Take time to cook nutritious meals, that will feed you both physically and emotionally.
As mentioned earlier, being emotionally healthy isn’t about being happy all the time. However, there is a lot to be said for trying to recognise the positive aspects of life. This doesn’t have to be kept for special occasions or amazing holidays. You can find gratitude in the every day – being happy that you got a seat on the train or that the meeting you were worried about went well. Taking the time to notice these little things will help you feel more positive overall, even when experiencing stressful situations.
A good way to practice gratitude is to start a journal that you fill out at the end of each day. The act of physically writing down your small wins (and dedicating a set amount of time to positive thoughts) will help you finish the day on a happy, healthy note,
Calm the mind
At Adia, we are huge fans of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. It’s one of the reasons we recently ran our digital meetup about meditation and fertility! If you take up one new habit on your mission to improve your emotional health – make it meditation. Research shows that meditation can have a physical impact on how our brains regulate emotions. A guided meditation can help you clear your mind, digest the day and reconnect your mind and body. It will also help you get a good night’s sleep, making it doubly effective for self-care.
Whilst an hour-long relaxing yoga class would be a great way to start each day – it’s not always possible. Luckily you can practice mindfulness in many everyday activities – from taking a shower to making a cup of tea. Mindfulness is all about being present and quietening the mind from the chatter we usually have going on in your heads. It’s an effective way of detaching from negativity and helping to nurture your emotional health.
For many of us, our days revolve around sitting at a computer or looking at our phones. Taking a walk or doing some physical activity outside helps us reconnect with the natural world. It also gets your heart pumping will helps the release of endorphins. Whether it’s an energetic outdoor pursuit or a simple walk around the block, getting out of the house or office will help you feel grounded, take your mind off things and improve your emotional health.
Walking is also a great opportunity for some mindfulness. Next time you go for a walk, take the time to notice your surroundings. Take in the smells of nature, and really listen to the sounds around you. The combination of fresh air, physical activity and a few minutes of mindfulness is a truly effective trifecta for improved emotional health.
Follow your joy
This might sound simple, but it’s easy to fall into habits which keep us from the things that make us happy. Between work, family commitments and life admin, many of us neglect our hobbies and passions in life. Try to set aside time each week to do something for you. It might be joining a netball team, getting back into painting or writing a blog. Doing something purely for fun and enjoyment is food for the soul and will almost immediately improve your emotional health.
The same goes for people. It’s easy to realise that you actually haven’t seen your favourite friend in months. Surrounding yourself with people that bring positive energy into your life will hugely impact your emotional health. Be sure to schedule time with the people that make you laugh, or that allow you to open up.
Emotional health on your fertility journey
When you are trying to conceive it can feel like an emotional marathon, especially if you’re struggling with infertility. Pregnancy and parenthood also require bucket loads of emotional strength. That’s why it is essential to invest in your emotional health as part of your personal preconception care.
The combination of the physical strain of TTC and the stress infertility brings can take its toll on both your self-esteem and your relationship with your partner. Whilst experiencing these negative emotions is totally normal, you will need resilience to push through and keep trying. All of the suggestions above – from meditation to a healthy fertility diet – are extremely helpful if you are struggling to cope with infertility. Looking after yourself should be a priority – and that includes emotionally as well as physically.
If you have experienced miscarriage and loss, your emotional reserves might feel totally decimated. That’s totally understandable. Try and keeps lines of emotional communication open between you and your partner. You will be each other’s rock during this difficult time. Also, be sure to speak to medical professionals if you need more support. Whilst emotional health can be improved by self-care and the love of your family, it’s not always enough. Dealing with loss may start to impact your mental wellbeing. You should always seek advice from your GP if you feel like this may be the case.
Join our community
The Adia platform is like a free, one-stop-shop for all elements of emotional health needed on your reproductive journey! From meditations focused on relaxation and positivity to healthy recipe ideas – you can find lots of advice on self-care routines. We also recently launched our Emotional Health 101 course which can help you understand and improve your own emotional wellbeing. Our Facebook community recently launched and is another great way to connect and share your feelings with like-minded people.