By Dr. Mercola
If you physically over-tax your body, say by overexerting yourself on a hot day or staying up for 24 hours with no sleep, you probably wouldn't be surprised if it suddenly "breaks down."
We avoid such pitfalls by tending to our physical health, resting and drinking water when doing taxing work in the outdoor heat or making sure we get adequate sleep on most nights.
Your mind is subject to the same rules, meaning that it can only take so much stress before it breaks down, yet many neglect to tend to their emotional health with the same devotion they give to their physical well-being. This is a mistake, but one that's easily remedied with the following tips for emotional nurturing.1
9 Strategies to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Avoid a Breakdown
1. Be an Optimist
Looking on the bright side increases your ability to experience happiness in your day-to-day life while helping you cope more effectively with stress.
2. Have Hope
Having hope allows you to see the light at the end of the tunnel, helping you push through even dark, challenging times. Accomplishing goals, even small ones, can help you to build your level of hope.
3. Accept Yourself
Self-deprecating remarks and thoughts will shroud your mind with negativity and foster increased levels of stress. Seek out and embrace the positive traits of yourself and your life, and avoid measuring your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you.
4. Stay Connected
Having loving and supportive relationships helps you feel connected and accepted, and promote a more positive mood. Intimate relationships help meet your emotional needs, so make it a point to reach out to others to develop and nurture these relationships in your life.
5. Express Gratitude
People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you're grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.
6. Find Your Purpose and Meaning
When you have a purpose or goal that you're striving for, your life will take on a new meaning that supports your mental well-being. If you're not sure what your purpose is, explore your natural talents and interests to help find it, and also consider your role in intimate relationships and ability to grow spiritually.
7. Master Your Environment
When you have mastery over your environment, you've learned how to best modify your unique circumstances for the most emotional balance, which leads to feelings of pride and success. Mastery entails using skills such as time management and prioritization along with believing in your ability to handle whatever life throws your way.
8. Exercise Regularly
Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.
9. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing "mindfulness" means that you're actively paying attention to the moment you're in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you're mindful you're living in the moment and letting distracting or negative thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress for increased well-being as well as achieve undistracted focus.
Are You in the Midst of an Emotional Breakdown?
If difficult life circumstances and the negative emotions they create are making happiness hard to come by, I urge you to try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
EFT is a powerful self-help method based on research showing that emotional trauma contributes greatly to disease. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, your body can often rebalance itself and accelerate healing.
I've seen its effectiveness first-hand for a number of years, which is why EFT is the healing technique I most highly recommend to optimize your emotional health.
Specifically, EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with your fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem -- whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. - and voice positive affirmations.
This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the "short-circuit" — the emotional block — from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal emotional health and the healing of physical disease.
Healthy Habits are Happy Habits
Embracing healthy habits will help keep your mood elevated naturally even in the midst of stress. Happy people tend to be healthy people, and vice versa, so in addition to the tips above, the following lifestyle strategies can also help to support emotional wellness:
- Eat well: What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease. My free nutrition plan is an excellent tool to help you choose the best foods for both physical and emotional wellness.
- Proper sleep: Sleep deprivation is linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression, while getting the right amount of sleep has been linked to positive personality characteristics such as optimism and greater self-esteem, as well as a greater ability to solve difficult problems.2
- Animal-based omega-3 fats: Low concentrations of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are known to increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to non-depressed individuals. Krill oil is my preferred source of omega-3 fats.
- Regular sun exposure: This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. But even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins.