What is Emotional Health?

Published on: 19 Nov 2021
Clinically Reviewed by Amy Cirbus Ph.D, LMHC, LPC
woman meditating on grass

The definition of emotional health is pretty much the same as the definition of well-being. It’s what helps you not just survive but also heal when you’re faced with difficult times in life and thrive overall. Emotional wellness or health is an essential component if you want your everyday life to feel whole and balanced.  

The key to a happy, satisfied, content, balanced everyday life is having a basic understanding of what emotional health is, and beyond that understanding, fully grasping the emotional health meaning that can change your life for the better. Looking at some emotional health examples can help. 

Understanding Your Emotional Health

To fully understand what emotional health is, you need to look at what it encompasses. Emotional health, at its core, is a consistent and productive state of positive psychological functioning. On some level, emotional health is just an extension of your mental health. It combines everything you think, feel, and do — during both of the highs in life as well as the lows.

Why is emotional health important?

Emotional health is essential in keeping your whole being healthy on multiple levels. When your emotional health is monitored and taken care of (whether it’s through in-person or online therapy), you’ll be more in control of every aspect of your life. From your feelings, to your thoughts, to how you behave — you’ll be more prepared and able to deal with all of life’s  emotional distress and challenges. 

Focusing on your emotional health doesn’t just allow you to maintain a productive perspective. It also helps you notice when you need to course correct so you can come back from disappointment and challenging times. Being mentally and emotionally healthy lets you feel good in general about both yourself as well as about the relationships you have.

It’s important to note that just because you’re emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you’ll be in a constant state of bliss. It simply means you’re more cognizant of the emotions that you have. You can handle whatever life hands you. You’ll still feel every emotion, including anger, disappointment, stress, and even sadness, but you’ll have strong emotional resilience and a greater sense of how to manage the basic negative emotions and feelings that everyone has.

“When we are able to maintain an overall healthy emotional wellbeing, then we’re better able to manage life’s stressors. While we certainly cannot always control the events that happen in our lives, we do have the opportunity to improve our chances of responding well to emotional problems and stress by boosting our emotional health skills.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, CDBT

What Can Influence Your Emotional Health?

Many things influence how emotionally healthy you are. Not maintaining a good work-life balance can be detrimental to your health in general. Toxic or emotionally draining relationships can have an impact as well. There are some genetic aspects to emotional health too, and there are a number of other environmental factors that come into play and could have a negative — or positive — impact. Even your actual physical health can affect how emotionally healthy you are.

“There are so many factors that can impact our emotional health. Some include our environment (work/school, home, social lives), our physical health, and our genetics and family history of emotional health needs.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, CDBT

What’s the Difference Between Mental and Emotional Health

The difference between mental and emotional health is that mental health is a label that examines and determines how your mind is understanding and processing any information or experiences you gain out of life. 

Emotional health, on the flipside, delves into how well you’re able to both manage and express all the emotions that surface from those experiences and things that you’ve learned.

There are other differences too, including:

  • Mental health and emotional health don’t have to coincide in terms of being healthy or needing attention. For example, you can be experiencing a mental health condition but have relatively good emotional health. At the same time, you could be managing mental health conditions, yet struggling with keeping balanced emotional wellness.
  • Emotional health is much more focused on understanding and navigating your emotions. Mental health is a broader concept that encompasses your ability to understand and process experiences. It also considers how well you can make rational decisions and stay focused on the tasks at hand.  

How to Support Your Emotional Health

Much like improving your physical health, emotional health takes a dedicated act to improve. It’s helpful to first look at your emotions and try to make sense of them so you can better understand them. 

Every emotion you have has value to it, even when you are feeling very emotional. They’re all part of you, and even challenging emotions like sadness, anger, or grief are opportunities for you to grow and become a more whole person. 

That said, there are some emotions we deem as being negative that wouldn’t be healthy to hold on to long-term. An important part of being emotionally healthy is learning how to deal with emotions as you have them. You want to be able to compartmentalize them as appropriate, so you can heal and move on rather than letting them hold you back. 

Grow your support system

Having a solid and trustworthy support system can give peace of mind and be a welcome addition to your overall emotional health. 

Knowing that you have someone you can count on, or a group of people who you love and can trust, means you’re better equipped to deal with painful or difficult times. You can rely on your support system for emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual support when you need it.

Exercise more

It’s a well-documented and researched fact that working out is good for your mind, body, and soul. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which help you feel better and be more productive. There are a plethora of other positives to working out too, including: 

  • Having better sleep habits
  • Being more motivated to eat well
  • Enjoying mood boosts
  • Being able to focus and concentrate more easily
  • Feeling calmer and more relaxed throughout your day
  • Improving overall health on every level

Working out can help with anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies have shown that walking for just 15 minutes to an hour every day can reduce the risk of major depressive disorder by more than 25%. Working out to reduce the symptoms of these mental health conditions can help to improve your emotional health too. 

Find ways to reduce anxiety 

You can reduce anxiety by doing things that help you feel calm so you can reduce your stress. For example, you can try:

  • Eating healthy
  • Finding creative outlets
  • Learning deep breathing or grounding techniques
  • Meditating
  • Doing yoga

Invest time in a new hobby

Keeping yourself busy is a great way to keep your emotional health in check. Finding a hobby that you love, that’s something you look forward to doing, can provide some much-needed downtime while helping you let go of some of the stressors from your day. It’s also a wonderful act of self-care.

Stay away from drugs and alcohol

The occasional glass of wine isn’t going to send your emotional health into a tailspin, but like most things in life, drinking should be done in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to both physical and emotional health issues. Drug use is also a known contributor to poor emotional, mental, and physical health.

Eat healthy foods

When you fill up on good foods, the nourishment offers more than just a healthy body. Foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins, healthy fats, and “brain food” (like those high in Omega-3s) nourish your mind, which is a great way for you to improve your emotional health.

Meditate

Meditation has several emotional and mental health benefits. Research shows it can help you focus better while improving your self-awareness and self-esteem, lower your stress levels and anxiety, and give you energy and motivation. Studies also show there’s a distinct correlation between mindfulness and the ability to process new information. 

Meditation has physical health benefits too, like improving your pain tolerance and helping you fight off addictions.

How to Receive Help for Your Emotional Health

You can find help with your emotional health using any of the following tactics:

  • Figure out your strengths and build on them
  •  Find areas of opportunity— there are areas of opportunity or positivity in many challenging or difficult situations. 
  • Work on being resilient
  • Build a social network — keeping it small is fine
  • Establish a healthy self-concept — find and remember the good in yourself
  • Develop coping skills that can be put into play when you deal with the inevitable stress that occasionally will come your way
  • Find a hobby, and then make time for it
  • Live your life with a sense of purpose
  • Seek a therapist to help you nurture your emotional wellbeing

Your emotional health is just as important as your physical or mental health. Prioritizing your whole being — your spirit, body, and mind — means you’ll be able to live an emotionally healthy life that allows you to have a positive outlook and perspective. Turns out, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses really can be good for you. 

Sources:

1. Emotional Wellness Toolkit. National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit. Published 2021. Accessed November 7, 2021.

2. Robinson L, Segal, Ph.D. J, Smith, M.A. M. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise – HelpGuide.org. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm. Published 2021. Accessed November 7, 2021.

3. Rea S. Neurobiological Changes Explain How Mindfulness Meditation Improves Health – News – Carnegie Mellon University. Cmu.edu. https://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2016/february/meditation-changes-brain.html. Published 2016. Accessed November 7, 2021.

4. Hölzel B, Carmody J, Vangel M et al. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. 2011;191(1):36-43. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092549271000288X. Accessed November 7, 2021.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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