The importance of maintaining your emotional health

Most of us wouldn’t think of missing our annual physical check-up, but are we also keeping track of our emotional health?

We all know that keeping track of our family’s physical health is important. Planning yearly exams are crucial to our health, but what about everyone’s emotional health?

When physical and emotional health overlap, it’s called the mind and body connection. For adults, safeguarding emotional health includes learning how to express emotions in healthy ways and keeping a balance in your life, which could mean learning to say “no” more often. Additional ideas for keeping balance in your life is to practice some type of relaxation, such as: listening to music, taking time for friends and intimate relationships, expressing your creativity, meditating, deep breathing or attending a yoga class. Emotional health also includes taking care of yourself physically, getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and taking time for physical activity.

What about our children? Geoff Nagle, PhD, MPH, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology and director of the Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health at Tulane University, says, “What every child needs is a loving, caring adult who is passionately, wildly committed to that child.” So, what does that passionate and wildly committed person do? Dr. Nagel says to be emotionally healthy, children need adults who:

  • Know about child development. The more you know about physical and emotional developmental stages, the easier it will be to respond to what your children need.
  • Take care of their own emotional health needs. If adults don’t seek help when needed, their emotional problems also become a problem for their children.
  • Give kids their full attention. Talk to their kids, spend time with their kids and listen to them, even when the day has been very long and demanding.

The American Psychological Association advocates that families develop resiliency to safeguard emotional health. Resilient families set rules and expectations and follow through with both. In addition to rules and expectations, resilient families express and talk about emotions, practice self-control, learn how to problem solve and develop strong communication skills. Physical health and emotional health work hand-in-hand and when you’re reminded to schedule a physical exam, take the time to consider the emotional health of your family by asking yourself these few questions:

  • Am I practicing healthy self-care and am I teaching my family to do the same?
  • Are we talking about highly charged issues and working through the stress?
  • Does our family bounce back after a tough time?
  • Are we showing ourselves self-compassion when we make mistakes?

Emotionally healthy families are as important as physically healthy families. Don’t forget the keep both aspects of your health tuned up on a regular basis.

Michigan State University Extension offers classes that may help your emotional health; RELAX: Alternatives to Anger and Stress less with Mindfulness are offered throughout the state.

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