How to Practice Good Emotional Hygiene


As an adult, you have mastered the science of good personal hygiene, from brushing your teeth and showering daily to taking care of yourself when you are sick and managing bodily injuries to prevent infection and more severe issues. You do numerous things regularly to ensure your physical health, but are you giving the same attention to your emotional and psychological health?

You treat and disinfect a cut right away and give it time to heal, yet you try so hard to ignore that nagging feeling of loneliness when a relationship falls apart. You may not realize it, but just as you sustain bodily injuries, you also experience wounds and cuts on an emotional level. Such hurts also need proper care and time to get better. Otherwise, the pain can become unbearable and possibly affect other aspects of your life.

That said, you cannot merely focus on practicing personal hygiene. You must also observe good emotional hygiene to ensure your overall well-being. Here are several tips to keep yourself emotionally healthy.

Recognize Your Emotional Pain

When you suffer from physical pain, you know that it is time to seek help when the hurt lasts for several days. The same is true for emotional pain. If you experience persistent negative emotions or you are in a bad mood for far too long, it might be a sign that something is not right with you emotionally. When this happens, acknowledge the feeling instead of denying it so that you can process where the emotion is coming from, what it means, and what you can do to make it better.

Understand Your Emotional Baggage

As you continue to practice acknowledging your emotions, you will discover that most of your unpleasant feelings and reactions usually stem from much deeper pain. For example, the hurt and annoyance you feel when a friend cancels on a lunch date may seem petty, but it could be triggered by a hurtful experience. Perhaps a best friend failed to offer words of encouragement for sobriety when you sought treatment for alcohol addiction in the past. Or maybe a parent took your feelings for granted when you were young.

When you are aware of your emotional baggage, it is easier for you to manage your feelings. You can readily understand that a specific situation is not necessarily wounding but merely mirroring an unresolved pain. More importantly, you can begin the healing process if you recognize the events or circumstances troubling you psychologically.

Reach Out to Someone

A significant part of healing from emotional pain is reaching out to loved ones for help and support. Contrary to a common misconception, asking for help when you are struggling is not a sign of weakness but part of being human. People are meant to seek social connection and understanding. Besides, there are plenty of good reasons why you should not keep everything bottled up inside. For one, the act of talking to others can be cathartic. You can feel an immense sense of relief just by sharing your feelings.

Speaking with others can also help give you different perspectives. As you listen to a friend or a family member share their thoughts about the situation troubling you, their insights can help you see the problem more objectively. It is worth noting that you can also talk with a counselor or therapist if you feel uncomfortable sharing your feelings with those closest to you for whatever reason. Ultimately, you should find someone you can be honest with and provide the support you need.  

Be Kind to Yourself

When your friend makes a mistake or fails at something, do you keep criticizing them for it, or do you try to cheer them up? Unless you are downright cruel, you will probably do the latter. You will say and do everything you can to make them feel better. You will encourage them to learn from it so they can do well next time.

Sadly, you might be doing the opposite to yourself. Instead of being kind, you are your worst critic. You beat yourself up when things do not go as planned. If you have this tendency, change it immediately. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would show a loved one.

Reframe your thoughts, and you will see how your behavior changes for the better. For example, rather than focusing on the mistake, think about everything you learned and the many other things you have done well. By doing so, you stop wasting time dwelling on the past and start working on what you can do to improve the situation.

Do Not Allow Negative Thoughts to Take Over

Your thoughts are like the lenses you use to view the world. If you think positively, you see the events in your life in a positive light. If you ruminate on negative thoughts, your attitude, worldview, behavior, and everything else become negative. As such, you should train yourself how to be more positive.

Instead of replaying upsetting situations in your mind over and over, distract yourself. You can solve a puzzle, exercise, or do something that you love. Another effective way to battle negative thoughts is by making a conscious effort to focus on pleasant thoughts and feelings. Practice seeing the good in every situation. It does not have to be grand. A simple appreciation of a good coffee, the smell of the rain, or even a good chat with a friend can help significantly in managing your thought process. 

The pointers above are some of the most helpful habits you should adopt to support your emotional and psychological health. Although these mental habits may be challenging as they require much effort and commitment, continue to press on. After all, you will not only heal your deep-seated psychological wounds when you practice them, but you will also improve your overall quality of life.

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