Mental and Emotional Health - A Comprehensive Guide
In a perfect world, everyone would have enough time to work out and eat healthy and get a good night of sleep. But in the real world, it's hard to find the time to focus on our mental health. If you're feeling down or downright depressed, you can try these exercises to improve your mood reduce anxiety and improve your overall well being.
Mental and Emotional Health - Why are they important?
Mental and emotional health is essential for success in both the workplace and our personal lives. Moreover, mental and emotional health has a far-reaching impact on our relationships, social interactions, friendships, and family life. We should always invest in ensuring that all the aspects of mental and emotional health are taken care of. It can be difficult to keep up with mental and emotional health as it is subject to change over time.
Difficulties with mental and emotional health can lead to relationship problems, difficulty at work or school, substance abuse problems, and other serious issues. By taking care of ourselves on both a physical level as well as an emotional level it becomes easier for us to face the world confidently knowing how much strength we have inside of ourselves.
Some signs of good mental and emotional health are:
- Having a positive outlook on life
- Feeling good about oneself
- Being able to manage stress
- Getting enough sleep and eating well
On the other hand, the symptoms of unhealthy mental issues are mainly;
- Having the feeling of being depressed and hopeless.
- Having suicidal thoughts.
- Experiencing paranoia.
- Having critical thoughts of self-harm.
Many people experience anxiety as a result of negative thinking or worry about situations, others, or themselves. Thought exercises that might help us perceive our experiences from a new perspective are one of the daily ways to alter our thinking. It's more complicated than "positive thinking," and it can help our subconscious minds travel in a more creative, and beneficial way over time.
There are many different types of exercises that you can do to improve your mental wellness, so there is no excuse not to exercise! The following exercises are some of the most effective ways to boost your mood and improve your mental wellness.
Mental and Emotional Health - The Treatments
1. The self-observation exercise
The self-observation exercise is a psychotherapeutic technique in which the patient becomes aware of his or her thoughts. The technique includes three steps that are used to evaluate and understand thoughts. These include:
- The first step is to be aware of the thoughts.
- The next step is to identify the meaning of the thought.
- And the final step is to determine whether or not the thought is true.
It's important to take the time to recharge and try to put your energy into calming yourself down when you are feeling agitated. Take a break by finding a quiet place where you won't be interrupted, even only for a couple of minutes.
It's also important to start paying attention to the way your body feels. Are you feeling that sense of dread in your shoulders, neck, stomach, or head? Do you feel achiness, fatigue, or even a headache? That's ok, just note it for now.
Next, focus your attention on your thoughts. Name the stressors that keep cycling through your mind. Try to catalog them and make sure you don’t let them overwhelm you. When you notice one, simply let it go, listening to it and recognizing that it's “been heard”.
During periods of unease or anxiety, focusing on your body and mental sensations will help you find a sense of calm. You need to relax or distract yourself from things that are bothering you so that you can give them your full attention at a later time. When done correctly, the self-observation exercise is a great technique to boost your mental and emotional health.
2. Keep a log of your Thoughts and Contemplations
The power of mindful journaling is undeniable. Journaling can help you achieve a more fulfilling life and achieve goals. Keeping track of your thoughts, feelings, and actions can help you identify patterns that might be holding you back. It's a way to keep yourself accountable for your thoughts and actions.
Reviewing your thought records can help you spot the connections between your nutrition, your sleep, your exercises, and your anxiety symptoms. If you are concerned about your mental and emotional health, give mindful journaling a try. You will spot the difference on your own.
3. Switch off your Mind to interrupt those Anxious Thoughts
You can be mindful at any moment. Research has found that being present in the current time, rather than just dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future, can help to clear your thoughts and feelings. Here are some common techniques that can help to promote good mental and emotional health:
Stretch and relax different muscles of your body, and focus on your muscle activity as much as you can to see if it can help you to deal with those anxious thoughts.
Breath in with an intentional count, such as four counts in and four counts out
Listening to music, audiobooks or radio can keep your mind from dwelling on anxious thoughts and taking up your energy.
Thinking positively can be difficult, especially if your outlook has been largely negative for a long time. By speaking out loud to convince yourself that you are done thinking in this way or using affirmations, you'll be able to hear a positive voice more easily.
Distracting your mind is the goal. As such you can play, for instance, word puzzles on your phone, load up a dishwasher, practice yoga, or do other physical routines that will positively consume your energy.
Counting backward slowly is also an effective technique to interrupt the flow of anxiety.
4. Cognitive Defusion Exercises
One of the most effective ways to maintain good mental and emotional health is to regularly exercise. There are many different types of exercises, but they all have one thing in common: they stimulate the release of endorphins, a natural chemical in our body that helps us feel better.
Cognitive defusion exercise is a term coined by Andrew Smith, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist. According to Smith, cognitive defusion is any type of activity that changes how we physically move for extended periods. The goal is to get out of rigid patterns and free up our thinking to get more creative and less stressed.
Some research shows that mental and emotional health can be improved through this type of exercise, while others suggest that the cognitive effects of the exercises are purely physical. Nevertheless, it is an effective way to combat anxiety and depression in some individuals.
This is why many people find cognitive defusion exercises so therapeutic - because it gives them the chance to get their mind off of things in their life for just a little bit and focus on something else.
5. Self-Compassion Practice
Sometimes anxiety appears as an excessive worry such as, one is not good enough or has negative traits. These thoughts, when played on a loop, can be depressing and make daily activities difficult.
You can reduce your self-critical thoughts by practicing self-compassion. It may be uncomfortable at first but try to view your current situation as you would if a good friend was going through it. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and make sure to give yourself the same kind of love and comfort you would give a friend.
Here's a self-compassion exercise
Find and focus on a picture of yourself from when you were growing up (during your childhood). Instead of focusing on your more adult side, focus on the innocent child inside. It is just as important to give you some reassurance that you are learning and growing at a different pace. If you want good mental and emotional health, practicing self-compassion is the key.
6. The Worry Tree
This is an amazing tool developed for those who have low mental and emotional health. Experiencing compulsive or continual worry helps them make a conscious decision between worrying or doing something else.
It comes in the form of a flowchart graph that you can uniquely personalize. It essentially begins by questioning yourself. For instance,
- What am I worried about?
- What can I do about it?
- Can something be done right now to change this?
These three guidelines can help to guide people to let their worries go when nothing can be done. This great tool and technique can help to avoid rumination where the same anxiety-inducing thoughts are played again and again.
Thought exercises can feel different, but if you remain curious, you may find your mind opens up to new ways of thinking about the world and positivity. If you're always feeling more anxious after completing a thought exercise and are seeing bad results, it might be better to stop doing them.
This may mean that, for you, the thought exercise isn't effective or doesn't work for your anxiety. Alternatively, you may be more likely to respond better to other treatments from a psychiatrist or mental health professional. You should consult a mental and emotional health professional to get a better understanding of your situation.
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