Mental health is discussed in the media more frequently than it may have been in the past. However, knowing what wellness activities can boost your mental health or reduce stress can still be difficult. If you’re looking for a daily routine to increase your well-being, there are several activities you can consider.
What Is The Value Of Emotional Wellness?
It could seem that emotional and mental health is the same. However, that’s not necessarily true. Mental health is shaped by your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Many areas can impact a person’s mental health, including genetics and life experiences.
Emotional health is more about being in tune with your emotions. It’s about being able to recognize and handle the emotions that you have as they happen. So, while emotional health is not the same as mental health, there are ways that they connect.
The value of caring about either type of health is that learning to maintain one can potentially boost the other. Focusing on your emotions and what brings you happiness may boost your emotional health, but it can also give you a more significant awareness of your mental health.
11 Emotional Wellness Activities For Mental Health
Below are 11 ways to prioritize emotional wellness and improve daily mental health.
1. Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep is part of taking care of yourself and ensuring well-being. When you are not getting enough rest, it can be difficult to manage challenges in life that cause stress. It can also be difficult to function as you’d like; you may feel tired, irritable, unmotivated, or sad. You might also find you lack patience and struggle to handle stressful situations.
When you participate in physical activity, your brain releases hormones that boost your mood, potentially alleviating anxiety and depression. These endorphins can cause a more positive outlook on life and a sense of general well-being. Exercise can also help you sleep better at night. It has been linked with a boosted immune system, which can defend you from diseases and illness.
Getting more exercise doesn’t mean you must head to the gym and work with a personal trainer. You can exercise at home by going for a walk, practicing yoga, or running. Start with an exercise that feels obtainable to you, and build up as you go.
3. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a strategy to use if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or need space. When you feel your stress level rise or experience difficult emotions, you may notice a physical response in your body. You might have an increased heart rate or blood pressure, illness, dizziness, and short, quick breaths.
Deep breathing exercises interrupt the cycle that stress can have on your body. Your heart rate and blood pressure may return to normal when you practice deep breathing. Practicing this exercise alongside meditation and mindfulness may also increase mental well-being. One way to practice deep breathing is through box breathing, which can be done through the following quick steps:
- Breathe in for five counts.
- Hold your breath for five counts.
- Breathe out for six counts.
- Hold your breath for six counts.
- Repeat as many times as you want or until you feel a stress reduction.
4. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering your time to a cause or organization that helps others can improve your emotional health. It may help you shift your thoughts off yourself and onto someone else, potentially giving you a sense of purpose.
If you’re going through a difficult time, volunteering may give you the ability to gain a new perspective on the situation. It can also help you to get in better touch with your emotions as you see what other people are going through and become familiar with their stories. If you’re navigating many painful emotions, focusing on social kindness for a while can give your mind a break.
5. Spend Time With Friends
Spending time with friends can positively impact your emotional health, and many studies cite the mental and physical health benefits of social connection. Participating in activities you enjoy together can help you take the focus off challenging emotions that you might be experiencing and put your energy into positive and fun memories.
Quality time with others can also remind you that you aren’t alone in managing your emotional wellness and finding ways to experience joy in life. Having a robust support system made up of loved ones can be a significant help as you work toward the best version of yourself.
6. Take Time To Unplug
In an age of technology, you might feel constantly connected to the web. Constant social media use can be overwhelming and has been linked to higher stress levels. It can be challenging to feel mindful when notifications, vibrations, or ringtones constantly pull you away.
For your emotional health, consider taking a break from technology occasionally. Whether you are getting out of the house and heading into nature or taking time to turn off all technology to read a book, unplugging can help you unwind and reconnect with your emotions.
If you struggle with processing your emotions, journaling regularly may be helpful. Writing about your day and what you’ve experienced can help you better understand the emotions you’re feeling. As you write, you may notice that you can go deeper into the situation and carry the lessons you learn throughout your day. It may help you identify patterns in your behavior and how to address them.
If you’re uncomfortable with writing for long periods or experience pain in your hands, you might journal by creating a picture journal. Picture journals can be drawn in, or you can add collage pictures from magazines, stickers, or newspapers you come across during your week. You might also add poems you’ve found that you relate to. Some people feel that journaling must look “one way,” but making the process work for you can make you feel more excited about journaling daily.
8. Make A Wellness And Gratitude List
Some people benefit from keeping a gratitude list. To start, list areas of your life that you’re thankful for. Looking back at this list during difficult times can be helpful. Note that gratitude doesn’t have to be toward others or significant situations to have a powerful effect. You can be grateful for seeing a beautiful flower, the smell of your hair after a shower, or the food you eat, as well.
9. Get Organized
Stress can have adverse impacts on your emotional health. If you feel you are constantly being pulled in different directions and are struggling to complete your daily tasks, consider planning for organization. Try a habit-organizing app if you struggle to develop or remember these tasks.
When you are constantly on the go and feeling overwhelmed, it can be challenging to be in touch with your emotions. Taking steps to create a routine may allow more time for you to process your feelings and put labels on them. It may also reduce stress, which can improve your physical health, which can improve your mental health.
10. Think About Your Thinking
Pay attention to your thoughts. If you often think negative thoughts and use negative self-talk, skills like cognitive restructuring can be beneficial. Cognitive restructuring involves positively reframing your thoughts.
You can learn how to choose what you think about. For example, if you notice that you tend to respond to perceived failures by focusing on negative thoughts about yourself, you can purposely choose to replace those thoughts with positive or neutral thoughts. Try not to ignore or suppress your emotions or thoughts. Instead, allow them to pass while reframing the situation in your mind.
11. Talk About Your Feelings
For many, a significant part of being emotionally healthy is feeling and understanding your feelings enough to put them into words. Taking the time to talk about and process your feelings can help you see which steps you can take to improve. If you often suppress your emotions, it may take some practice to identify and separate them from one another. However, communicating with others can make it easier to gain perspective and develop solutions that work for you.
If you don’t have anyone you’re comfortable talking to about emotions in your life or would like a professional perspective, you may benefit from working with a licensed therapist. If you face barriers to treatment, you can also try convenient and beginner-friendly forms of therapy, like online counseling through a platform like BetterHelp.
Online therapy is effective for a range of emotional health concerns. One study found that digital cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was an effective treatment for anxiety and depression, which are common causes of emotional distress. The evidence points to the efficacy of online therapy and its potential for future use.
What activities do people do to enhance emotional wellness?
The activities we suggested in the body of the article are common ways to support emotional wellness. However, people also engage in a wide variety of other pursuits to boost their emotional health. These can include:
- Listening to music
- Spending time in natural areas
- Creative activities, such as art or writing
- Sex and intimacy with romantic partners
- Travel and adventure activities
These are only a few examples of the many approaches people take toward cultivating well-being. In theory, any activity that helps you relax nourishes your sense of purpose, strengthen your physical body, or expands your sense of who you are may help contribute to emotional wellness.
How do you maintain wellness in the emotional dimension?
The National Institutes of Health suggests several evidence-based approaches to help maintain emotional wellness. One strategy is to cultivate mental, physical, and social resources you can draw on in times of stress.
This can involve things like healthy eating and getting better sleep, but it can also mean strengthening your bonds with your friends, family, and local community. Often, the most emotionally healthy people are those who can draw on the most support from the other people in their lives.
Learning effective ways to manage stress can also improve emotional health. Possible examples include meditation, yoga, journaling, creative pursuits, and socializing with friends. Talking with a therapist can also be a helpful way to relieve stress before it starts to impact your mental wellness.
Working to develop mindfulness might be another way to promote emotional well being. Mindfulness has been defined as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Meditation may help develop this type of awareness, but you can also try to bring it into your everyday life. This can be as simple as taking a few moments to pay attention to your breath, your surroundings, or the sensations in your body, gently returning your focus if you get distracted.
These strategies can work together. For example, joining a group dance program could help you build resilience through exercise, relieve stress through creative expression, and help you deepen your social connections. All these things may help you maintain health in the emotional dimension of life.
What are examples of events that might influence emotional wellness?
Various disruptive life events can pose challenges to an individual’s emotional well-being. Possible examples include:
- Entering the workforce for the first time
- Getting fired or laid off
- Ongoing sleep problems
- Moving to a new place
- Losing a loved one
- Getting married
- Getting divorced
- Starting a business
- Having a child
- A financial setback
- Physical or mental illness
Life changes don’t necessarily have to directly provoke negative emotions to pose challenges to a person’s emotional stability. Anything that disrupts someone’s familiar routine or changes their day-to-day life could strain their emotional resources. This can include positive events like marriage, childbirth, or graduating from school.
Just because these events can be stressful doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll harm your emotional wellness. People can react to disruption and change in many different ways.
Which type of wellness allows you to manage your emotions and cope with stressful events?
A person’s ability to cope well with stress and adversity, transforming them into sources of personal strength, is known as resilience. There may be many factors influencing a particular individual’s level of resilience, including social support, effective coping strategies, and an interior sense of purpose and direction.
Some regard resilience as an innate part of an individual’s personality. Others believe it’s a quality that can be developed and strengthened over time.
How can you use your community to improve your mental and emotional health?
Many people may experience better overall mental health simply from the sense of belonging to a larger community. However, you may experience a greater benefit the more you engage with your social circle through activities. Depending on the community in question, this could involve anything from neighborhood barbecues to family game nights. Social interaction like this can be relaxing, fulfilling, and energizing, directly benefiting your emotional wellness.
You can also actively seek support from your community when you feel you need it. This could be as simple as talking about your problems with a trusted friend and listening to their advice. It might also involve things like reaching out to the mates of your book club, church group, kickball league, or any other social group to let them know you need help.
Communities may also be able to provide tangible assistance that can relieve some of the stress you’re facing. Friends and family members may be able to babysit your children, recommend therapists, or pitch in when you’re dealing with medical bills. This kind of practical support can reduce your emotional strain.
What are the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
According to the theoretical framework of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can all interact with each other in reciprocal ways to influence mental health. They may also affect and be affected by a person’s bodily state and physical symptoms of illness.
Understanding these interactions can help build better emotional stability. You can try asking yourself which of your behaviors or physical thoughts are reinforcing the troubling emotions you’re feeling. Making deliberate changes to the way you act and/or think about your emotions might help you shift the way you feel.
How does stress affect emotional wellness?
Prolonged psychological stress can negatively impact nearly every dimension of health, including emotional wellness. The accumulation of stressful events may increase the risk of physical illness. It may also contribute to disorders like anxiety and depression. These negative impacts can make it difficult to maintain a positive emotional outlook.
However, an individual’s response to stress may matter even more than the stress itself. Researchers have found that even among people in highly stressful professions, effective coping strategies and social support can significantly reduce the negative effects of stress on well-being. Processing stress in healthy ways, such as with healthy eating, physical exercise, and positive social interactions, may help promote resilience.
What do you do if everyday emotions are confusing or challenging?
If you’re wrestling with complicated or troubling emotions, one helpful approach may be to accept and acknowledge them rather than trying to resolve them immediately. Experts note that many people instinctively try to simplify complex emotions into simple, fixed categories — but this may do more harm than good.
Expressing your troubling feelings in a constructive way could help you achieve this acceptance. Writing them down in a journal can be one way to do this. You may also want to tell what you’re feeling with a friend, loved one, or mental health care professional.
Engaging with art, media, literature, or music that deals with the same emotions you’re feeling may provide an additional source of support. For instance, psychologists have found evidence that listening to sad music can improve people’s ability to cope with sorrow by promoting acceptance. Creative works that mirror our emotional complexity may help us process our feelings.
How do you manage the emotional changes you are experiencing right now?
During periods of emotional turmoil, it’s often a good idea to work on your emotional control skills. Some techniques that may help include:
- Practicing encouraging self-talk
- Deep breathing
- Sensory grounding (taking note of specific sensory details in your environment)
- Mentally naming and describing your feelings
- Giving yourself time and space before responding to emotional stimuli
- Practicing mindfulness meditation
- Reframe your thoughts about yourself and the future in positive ways
- Adopting physical wellness practices
- Discussing how you feel with the important people in your life
- Connecting with a relevant social resource, such as a grief support group
How can your emotions affect your problem-solving abilities?
Emotions may influence many important cognitive skills. Studies have found evidence that strong emotions may interfere with logical reasoning, with negative emotions having a greater impact.
Positive emotions may also boost critical abilities such as learning and memory. Stress can have complicated effects on this process, with mild stress potentially improving learning but severe stress impairing it.
On the other hand, negative emotions can be important tools for driving people to adjust strategies that aren’t working. Unpleasant emotional feedback is often a signal that there’s a need to improve something, serving as a motivator for positive change.
- Previous Article
- Next Article