19 Frequently Asked Questions: Emotional Health

Understanding and managing your emotional health is an integral part of your overall wellness and happiness. If you are interested in improving your emotional health but are not sure where to start, you are in the right place. 

We have compiled the most frequently asked questions about emotional health and given you basic answers to your most burning questions. 

Q: What are emotions?

A: While this may seem like a simple question, it is, in fact, a little more complicated than you might imagine. Your emotions are more than just one thing. They come from a combination of forces, including your own thoughts, your evaluations of how much something matches your ideal, physical input from your body, and your actions. 

Emotions begin in your brain, where they stimulate physical reactions as well as start an evaluation process. You judge your situation or whatever is causing the feeling by how much it matches your ideal of happiness. The closer it is to optimal, the more favorable your emotions. 

Your body also creates physical responses to emotions, which is why when you are scared or surprised, your heart races, and you may feel flushed. These signals come from deep within your brain, where your mind is trying to protect you from danger and is preparing your body to respond to threats. 

These physical responses are ingrained, and you know which emotion you are feeling based on how your body feels many times. 

So, emotions are not just something your brain determines, and how one person feels in a situation can be entirely different from how another person may feel. 

Q: What is emotional health?

A: Your ability to manage and express your emotions in appropriate and helpful ways part of your emotional health. Recognizing your feelings, understanding how they influence your thoughts and actions, and how your emotions influence your body and health are all part of this awareness. The other part of emotional health is being able to recognize and respond appropriately to others’ emotions, as well.

Those who are emotionally healthy can accurately identify what they are feeling, even under stress. Emotionally healthy people use their understanding of their emotions to make rational decisions instead of allowing their feelings to take control of their behavior. 

Emotional health is not about pushing away or trying to stop emotions but instead understanding that you can learn a great deal from feeling these emotions and that they serve a purpose in your life. 

Q: How do I know if I am emotionally healthy? 

A: Emotional health stems from positivity and an optimistic outlook, so emotionally healthy people have many positive characteristics. These include feeling contentment about their lives, dealing well with stress, handling setbacks and loss well, and having a healthy work/play balance in their lives. 

Emotional health allows you to maintain strong, positive relationships and enables you to have a keen sense of self that leads to confidence in your capabilities. 

Emotional health requires that you can control your emotions instead of allowing them to control you, as well. Emotional health also requires that you can overcome negative influences and feelings that interfere with your happiness and the attainment of your goals.

While emotionally healthy people are not necessarily happy or positive all the time, they know how to express and process troubling feelings in ways that help them move forward productively. 

Q: What is the difference between mental and emotional health? 

A: Emotional health is one component of your mental health. While you can learn to manage your emotions and change your behaviors when it comes to your feelings, these types of psychological strategies cannot overcome all mental health problems. Mental health is more than just your emotions. It includes your ability to process information, reason, store memories, and focus. 

Your emotions play a role in your mental health, and if you have mental health issues, your feelings can make these problems worse or more challenging to control. 

Depression and anxiety are two such disorders that are connected to your feelings but also caused by specific physical and psychological factors that run deeper than the emotional centers of your brain.

Learning to control and manage your emotions can help you keep these and other mental health disorders in check, but they cannot cure or treat all aspects of these types of problems. 

Q: Why is my emotional health important? 

A: Your emotions have a considerable influence over you. They affect your decisions, behavior, mood, and outlook, and they also influence your physical health. If you neglect your emotional health, you will have a challenging time enjoying true wellness of happiness over time. 

Being emotionally healthy allows you to accept your feelings, understand why you feel this way, and to make better decisions based on this information. Without this capacity, your emotions can end up controlling your life, which can lead to dysfunction and unhappiness. 

Your emotional health also plays a role in your resilience, which your ability to overcome setbacks and tackle obstacles that are a part of life. When you are resilient, you become more adaptable, more easily accept change, and you bounce back more readily from disappointments. Being resilient means you set boundaries for yourself and keep you emotionally and mentally healthy, too. 

Those who are emotionally healthy are generally more successful in life and have stronger relationships, as well. You tend to take better care of yourself, too, which leads to more robust physical health over time. 

Q: Why do I need to deal with my negative emotions? Isn’t it better not to think about them?

A: Most people think that emotional health is about not having negative emotions or being happy all the time, but, negative emotions are just as important to process and experience and those that are more positive. 

Many people choose to avoid negative emotions so that they can avoid the pain, hurt, or confusion that often comes from these feelings, as well. But, when you ignore negative feelings and push them aside, rather than dealing with them, they can cause problems for your mind and your body. 

Your emotions are like feedback from your brain and your body. They tell you important things about what is important to you, your values, your sense of safety, and other aspects of your happiness and wellness. Ignoring these could mean missing out on valuable feedback that could help you to improve your life. 

And because you will emotions regardless of if you choose to pay attention to them or not, they find ways to manifest themselves in your life when you ignore them. 

Feelings that are not processed end up causing you stress, which can affect your mental and physical health in significant ways. Stress leads to damage to your tissues and organs, including your heart as well as symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, depression, and digestive disorders. 

Your pent-up emotions will find a way to release, which can lead to emotional outbursts and unhealthy behaviors that harm you and other people. Instead of trying to ignore your feelings, the healthier option is to allow yourself to feel them and to learn to process and act upon them in ways that improve your life and help you learn from your experience. 

Q: How do my emotions affect my body and overall health?

A: Your mental and emotional health have a significant impact on your physical health. Some of the most common of these consequences include depression, chronic diseases, anxiety, fatigue, and substance use and abuse. 

When you allow your emotions to take control of your decisions and action, you invite stress, dysfunction, and unhealthy habits into your life that can make you ill, contribute to mental health problems, and result in a lack of self-care that harms your health. 

Your emotions, especially negative ones that you do not handle appropriately, create stress, and release hormones like cortisol into your system. Over time, elevated levels of this chemical lead to excess inflammation, oxidative stress, and tissue damage, which can raise your risk of heart disease while weakening your immune system. 

Those who lack emotional health are less likely to take care of themselves, to eat well, to watch their weight, or to visit their doctor regularly. This lack of self-care can lead to higher rates of all sorts of chronic and acute diseases that are preventable, as well. 

Q: What is the connection between emotional health and resilience? 

A: Just because you are emotionally healthy does not mean that bad things never happen to you or you never get sad or angry. Everyone has disappointment in their lives, and we all experience setbacks from time to time. That is a part of life. When you have emotional health, you have the skills and knowledge to bounce back from these types of adversity, to overcome stress and trauma, and to learn from failure to help you succeed in the future. 

When you have robust emotional health, you realize that all emotions, both positive and negative, are fleeting, and that, with time, even tricky situations will end. This means you can maintain a more positive outlook during challenging times and can still realize positive outcomes after setbacks. Strong emotional health allows you to remain hopeful and adapt to tough times. 

Q: What is the importance of relationships for my emotional health?

A: For humans to be happy, we must have some basic needs met, including finding satisfaction in our lives, having psychological well-being, being physically well, and having deep and meaningful connections with others. The relationships you develop over your life contribute to all these various aspects of happiness and thriving. 

Your social ties with other people give you the support you need to pursue goals and dreams. Friends, family, and loved ones can offer you practical and emotional support when you face challenging times in your life. 

Connections to others help you maintain a more positive outlook while broadening your perspectives, as well. When you love and need others, you find a sense of purpose that drives you, as well. 

Friendships, romantic relationships, and family ties all make life more enjoyable, too, giving you opportunities to learn from others while also enjoying their company. Spending time with others lowers your stress and provides a calming effect on your mind and emotions. 

Q: What role does stress play in my emotional health?

A: Stress has a significant effect on your mental, emotional, and physical health. When you are stressed, it influences how your brain perceives and processes information. You do not make decisions with your rational mind under stress and being under chronic stress can change your mood and emotional stability.

For example, those with elevated levels of stress or who are under pressure for extended periods have higher rates of depression. When you feel like you cannot manage your life, you can start to feel hopeless and alone, which contributes to depression. 

Stress also causes feelings of anxiety or can make anxious feelings worse. When you feel overwhelmed, you tend to worry more about what might happen in the future or fixate on past decisions that led to your current situation, which are characteristic of anxiety. Stress is linked to mood swings, too. 

Too much stress can make you irritable, and it can interfere with your ability to concentrate and focus. Stress also reduces your impulse control and self-care habits, making it more likely that you will engage in unhealthy habits, compulsive behaviors, or other actions that are designed to lower stress in the short term but end up making you feel worse over the long run. 

Q: Why is exercise important for emotional well-being?

When you think about taking care of your emotional health, you probably do not immediately think of exercise, but how you care for your body plays a prominent role in caring for your feelings, too. Your mind and body are linked, and when you improve your physical health, you will experience a boost in your emotional and mental well-being, also. 

Regular exercise promotes healthy levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved in emotional health. When you work out, you release feel-good chemicals in your body that help you think and feel more positively. Exercise enables you to sleep better, which contributes to your emotional well-being. And, exercise is a great stress reliever, too. 

When you exercise regularly, you are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, which can also contribute to your self-esteem, an essential part of your emotional health. 

Exercise gives you the energy to maintain emotional control, and when you spend time outside while moving, you can enjoy mental health benefits that are associated with being outdoors and spending time in nature. 

Q: How does what I eat influence how I feel? 

A. Your brain requires the right foods and nutrients to function effectively, and when you do not eat well, it influences your hormones, neurotransmitters, and other processes that influence brain activity. Eating an unhealthy diet influences your mood, causes disruptions in your sleep, drains you of the necessary energy for regulating your emotions, and can make you sick. 

We also all respond differently to certain types of foods, and when you eat too much or not enough of something, it can alter how your brain works as well as how our body supports regulatory functions, which can influence your emotional well-being. Consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or unhealthy fats can have a dramatic effect on your mood and ability to regulate your feelings.

Eating a healthy diet that is rich in micronutrients and high in healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates provide your body with everything it needs to keep you healthy and to make sure all your systems are running smoothly. 

Q: What does sleep have to do with my emotional health? 

A: When you do not get enough sleep, you will have a harder time regulating your emotions, processing information, and feeling mentally and emotionally strong. Sleep influences your mood, concentration, energy, and ability to cope with stress, which all have lasting effects on your emotional health. 

Not getting enough sleep makes it more difficult to discern what emotions you are experiencing, makes it hard to concentrate long enough to process your feelings, and makes you more irritable, which can lead to emotional outbursts, as well. 

Q: Why is it so hard to face my emotional health problems? 

A: Most people are reluctant to face their emotional demons or to carefully examine sources of psychological trauma because doing so invites more pain and hurt into your life. You may be afraid to confront your negative feelings because you know that it also requires you to look at the sources of those emotions, which can include painful events you would rather forget. 

For others, facing their emotional issues may feel hopeless, particularly if they already struggle with depression. If you have been feeling bad for a long time, you may think, “Why bother?” when it comes to tackling the source of your emotional pain. 

Shame is another common reason people tend to ignore their problems rather than confront them. They may feel embarrassed or believe that having emotional problems makes them “weak,” which is a common message in our culture today. Some people are also just not ready to face the difficulties in their lives and therefore resist any suggestion that they may need help or should consider ways to improve their emotional well-being. 

The sources of emotional trauma and pain are often deep seeded, making them hard to confront and challenging to change. 

Q: Can I really improve my emotional health? 

A: Your emotional health is just a set of skills you use to understand, process, and act upon your feelings, so it is possible to learn to enhance this aspect of your well-being. Improving your emotional health requires learning how to identify your emotions, become more aware of how they influence your physical self as well as your behavior, and mindfully deciding how best to act upon your feelings. 

There are many practices and habits you can learn that can increase your emotional well-being. Talking with friends and trusted loved ones is also helpful for processing difficult emotions. Spending time each day considering your emotional health and checking in to see if there are areas that need to be addressed is also particularly important. 

Q: What is mindfulness, and why is it important for my emotional health?

A: Mindfulness is a purposeful focus on your present world, including awareness of your feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and your environment with a non-judgmental lens. 

When you practice mindfulness, you accept what you are feeling and experiencing and pay attention to your emotions without judgment. There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to your feelings, and you simply learn to feel them in the present moment. 

Mindfulness is vital to your emotional health in many ways. First, it teaches you to be more self-aware, which allows you to understand better the emotions you are feeling. 

Second, it provides you with insight into how your emotions are affecting your physical and mental state. Mindfulness keeps you grounded in the present, which prevents unproductive worry about the future or rehashing of past events. 

Mindfulness is a wonderful way to cope with stress, as well. It allows you to process what you are feeling so that you can deal with these emotions and move forward rather than stewing in your ongoing concerns and fears. 

Q: What is positive psychology?

A: Positive psychology is a branch of mental health counseling that focuses on helping you understand what it is that makes you happy and teaching you strategies for how to attain that happiness in your life. The focus of positive psychologists is teaching patients how to cultivate positive emotions, including contentment, joy, and hope while also developing positive traits. These traits include self-knowledge, compassion, creativity, curiosity, resilience, and courage. 

Positive psychology is a way to learn new tools that can help you be successful, overcome painful emotions, and have realistic views and expectations about the world and the outcomes you can expect. 

Positive psychology is not positive thinking but instead a more holistic approach to thinking and reasoning that allows you to learn from your emotions instead of just trying to be optimistic all the time. 

Q: When should I seek professional help for improving my emotional health?

A: When trying to improve your emotional health, it can be helpful to seek the help of a mental health professional. If you have been attempting consistently to improve your emotional well-being and still are not feeling the way you want, then a counselor may be able to help you. 

If you are unable to function in your daily life, are having trouble maintaining relationships, or are feeling hopeless, then working with a therapist or counselor could help you develop the strategies and skills you need to enhance your emotional well-being. 

Q: What are the top strategies for improving my emotional health?

A: If you would like to try to work on your emotional health at home, though, there are many easy ways that you can start to right now. Developing just a few healthy habits can significantly enhance how you are feeling and give your emotional health and boost. Here are ten effective and simple ways to improve your emotional health. 

1. Get to know yourself. Spending time in reflection and engaged in introspection will help you tackle the emotional issues in your life. Spending time alone and engaged in reflective thought from time to time is important. 

2. Write in a journal regularly. Journaling is an effective way to become more mindful, and it is excellent for helping you cope with stress. The act of writing down your thoughts and feelings is cathartic and allows you to release much of the day-to-day angst that builds up and interferes with your emotional health. 

3. Focus on the positive. When you look for positivity in your life, you are more likely to find it. When you think negative thoughts all the time, you will notice what is wrong. When bad things happen, ask yourself what you can learn or what is something positive that you could take from the situation instead of just focusing on what went wrong. 

4. Find ways to handle stress. Learning to deal with stress is an important part of your emotional well-being. Activities that can lower stress include exercise, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, engaging in a hobby, and spending time with friends. 

5. Maintain close relationships. Your support system will play a significant role in your well-being over time, so be sure to cultivate and maintain healthy and robust relationships whenever possible. On this note, though, be sure to eliminate toxic and unhealthy connections from your life, as well.

6. Let go of your fears. Worrying about the unknown future or fretting over things that have already happened is extremely unproductive. Reducing anxiety will help improve your emotional health, and if you are struggling with this, talk with a counselor or therapist about ways to cope with anxiety. 

7. Take care of yourself. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep are all crucial parts of your emotional well-being, so be sure you are taking care of your needs in these areas. 

8. Find a purpose. When you have purpose and meaning in your life, you are more likely to be happy and find emotional balance. Having a goal and living life by your beliefs helps you remain positive and hopeful and gives you a reason to continue when things get hard. 

9. Set boundaries. When you respect yourself and your needs, you will have stronger emotional health. Setting and honoring boundaries about your time, space, and resources will ensure that you are getting what you need to be happy and healthy.

10. Build your self-worth. When you love and feel confident in yourself, you are much more likely to have emotional stability and health. Work on boosting your self-esteem and building your confidence to improve your overall outlook in life. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to be fit, healthy, and happy, then tending to your emotional health should be a priority for you. Now that you have answers to your basic questions, you are ready to begin. Do not wait; your emotional health is too important to neglect for another day.