The term ‘Emotional Hygiene’ is credited to the Dalai Lama, who encourages us to get emotions like anger, frustration, and anxiety, under control. Negative thoughts or feelings, when piled on, feel like dirt that you just want to wash off. Perhaps it’s time to start practising emotional hygiene and take care of our emotions, and our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.
We spend a lot of time worrying about our physical health, but we sometimes neglect our mind in the process. To maintain good mental health, you can practice ‘emotional hygiene’ in the same way you practice good bodily hygiene to help maintain physical health.
Ancient Greek doctors believed that different organs controlled different moods: happiness coming from the heart, anger from the liver, and fear from the kidneys.
Emotions are not only present in the brain; they are also experienced in the body. We feel ‘butterflies’ in our stomachs when we are nervous, tightening in the jaw when we are angry or a rush of adrenaline when we are afraid. If we pay attention to what the bodies are expressing, we can pick up valuable clues, which can help us better understand and identify our emotions.
Our emotions can get become unbalanced when we are sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated, undernourished, or are inactive for too long. However, there are many ways to get them back on track and improve and maintain good emotional health. Here are some tips to start with:
Our self-esteem acts as an emotional immune system which can buffer us and lend us greater emotional resilience. Therefore, we should get into the habit of monitoring our self-esteem and boost it when it’s low. We should also avoid negative self-talk which damages it further. To do this, avoid becoming self-critical after a rejection and, instead, try to boost your self-esteem by focusing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.
It is natural to think about distressing events, but when our thinking becomes repetitive we are no longer problem-solving, we are ruminating. Ruminating can be very costly to our mental and physical health and can put us at risk of clinical depression and even cardiovascular disease. We have to battle negative thinking and avoid falling into the habit of over-focusing on distressing events.
Checking in with yourself on a daily basis to see how you are feeling and what you think about your life will make you happier and reduce your stress. Being kind to yourself and having a good relationship with you will make all your relationships with other people go more smoothly. Whether you realise it or not, the relationship you have with yourself sets the pattern for how you connect with others.
Being with people you care about and who care about you is a great way to affirm your value as a person, and to confirm that your life has meaning and purpose. Make sure you take good care of your friendships and family relationships. It’s a great way to take care of you.
Our bodies are temples, and we need to take good care of them. Good health isn’t just about healthy eating and exercise; it’s also about having a positive attitude, a positive self-image, and a healthy and happy lifestyle.
When you cultivate a healthy inner world, the rest will follow.
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