What is emotional health, and how do you boost it? Here are some science-based tips.
Emotional health is defined as a lack of mental disorders, but it also includes positive emotional characteristics, like resilience, self-efficacy, and vitality. Given how many different aspects of mental and emotional health there are, there are actually lots of different things we can do to improve our emotional health. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Do Things You Enjoy
An easy way to get an emotional boost is to do activities that you enjoy. Go out to eat with friends, play games, do crafts, or get a new hobby. Just doing fun things can go a long way in helping your mental and emotional health (Catalino, Algoe, & Fredrickson, 2014).
2. Build a Better Relationship With Technology
Spending too much time on our phones or online isn't good for our mental and emotional health. But if we learn how to interact with our technology in healthy ways, it doesn't have to be bad for us. You can start by learning how to have more positive interactions online (e.g., practicing kindness or gratitude online) and using technology to connect with others.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Many of us are so mean to ourselves. We might have a vicious inner self-critic, or we might find that we judge ourselves harshly for any mistakes we make. But the truth is, we all make mistakes and have flaws. Self-acceptance, despite those flaws, is a key to happiness.
So be nice to yourself and give yourself a break. You could work on building skills, like self-compassion and a growth mindset.
4. Practice Gratitude
The more we practice gratitude, the happier we are likely to be. And gratitude is easy. You could write a gratitude journal, make gratitude lists, share your gratitude with others, or even write a gratitude letter to someone you never properly thanked.
5. Use Positive Reappraisal
Positive reappraisal is an emotion regulation strategy that we can use to reinterpret a negative situation in more positive (or less negative) ways in order to make us feel better. If we don't use reappraisal (or we're not very skilled at it), this can lead to lower emotional health (Ford & Troy, 2019). So practice reappraisal to get better at it and make the most of it.
6. Add Positive Info to Your Brain
The more information our brains have on a subject, the easier it is to recall anything related to that subject. That means if we have more positive words, info, and memories in our brains, it should be easier to bring to mind the positive stuff. One way to add more to the "positive stuff" in your brain may be to memorize words that have been rated as highly positive or spend time focusing or thinking about positive things.
There are many ways to start boosting your mental and emotional health. By trying these out, you can likely feel a bit happier. Continue with these and engage in even more activities to see your emotional health grow.
Catalino, L. I., Algoe, S. B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2014). Prioritizing positivity: An effective approach to pursuing happiness?. Emotion, 14(6), 1155.
Ford, B. Q., & Troy, A. S. (2019). Reappraisal reconsidered: A closer look at the costs of an acclaimed emotion-regulation strategy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(2), 195-203.