The fourth of the four components of health is emotional health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the last three weeks we covered physical, mental, and spiritual health. Striving to attain health in all four areas enhances your overall health.
Emotional health refers to how you deal with life and its ups and downs. Everyone goes through difficult trials. The specifics are different between people. Even for you, there will be a wide variety of difficult times you experience. Everyone has good days. These can be peaceful, contended days; days where you reach a goal; days where you are celebrated; and days when you feel loved and secure.
Your feelings play a big role in your emotional health. People express their feelings in many different ways. Some people are more visibly emotional. Other people keep their emotions carefully hidden from view. Either way, emotions can impact our behaviors. How we act, how we respond, how we treat people, and how we feel about ourselves can all be affected by our emotions.
Why does my emotional health matter?
When looking at the differences between healthy people and not so healthy people, researchers have found emotional health to be a key factor.
How do you handle your anger? How kind are you to yourself in your ‘self talk’? How do you express your joy? What is your response when someone criticizes you? How often do you put other people’s needs before your own? Do you feel like the world is out to get you? How do you respond when your car breaks down? How do you feel when you forget to send a birthday card on time? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?
Studies have shown that prolonged stress and negativity make you age faster. There are actually measurable changes in your brain (shorter telomere length and less activity). This stress can also make you more susceptible to other diseases. Your blood pressure can go up, risk of heart disease goes up, and risk of diabetes goes up.
Improved health does not come from lack of negative situations. It comes from how you handle those situations.
The research has shown that the people who are more emotionally healthy have:
- Friend(s) to talk to
- People who care about you
- A sense of self-worth
- Ability to give and receive forgiveness
- Conflict management skills
- A desire to be giving toward others
- Concern for others
As you can see, these are not things you are born with. They are skills and attitudes you can develop. They are choices you can make. They are best navigated with friends and supportive people around you.
Similarly, other researchers found that keys to overall health are:
- Thinking kindly of people
- Feeling optimistic
- Supportive friends & family
- Ability to bounce back
- Making healthy choices
- Being grateful for all you have
I found it interesting that the findings are so similar. Other studies have supported these important areas of emotional health. When you feel good, your thinking of more creative and flexible. You see problems with more possibilities and solutions.
So, I encourage you to take a personal assessment of your current emotional health. Consider the things that delight you and the things that upset you. Where can you incorporate more of the listed items that are shared among people with more emotional health?
Medications can help on a short-term basis when circumstances have you so upset you can’t function or sleep. Long-term emotional health, however, is gained more through self-insight, positive choices, and self-development.
If you would like citations for the studies mentioned or have any questions about the role of your emotional health on your overall health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.
(Note, severe abuse, neglect, and trauma are much different than daily negative situations. This blog is not intended to cover the health effects of these experiences that usually involve severe mental illness of the perpetrator.)
Our emotions can guide so many of our behaviors, especially if we don’t have an anchor of hope. Resilience is the result of knowing God’s love and mercy never fail. No matter the situation, you are not alone, and you have the ultimate resource walking with you.
Throughout the Bible we are assured that bad things will happen. Since sin entered the world, this has been a basic fact. Throughout the Bible we are assured there is hope and joy that can get us through any situation.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Joshua 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As we go through difficult times, either big life-altering events or short bursts of anger or frustration, we are encouraged to give those over to God. We aren’t meant to figure it all out or deal with it on our own. Actually, when we do try to handle things ourselves, we often get into trouble.
Proverbs 29:11 ESV
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Proverbs 15:18 ESV
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
A focus on God can help calm our storms. Once we learn to navigate the storms, we can be a better support to those around us.
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:15 ESV
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Proverbs 15:13 ESV
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
I love this visual of Romans 5:3-5. With each time around the circle, we grow in hope and joy and the certainty of God’s love. This can then spill over to others.