In recent years, there seems to have been a new trend that is (hopefully) here to stay: paying attention to how we feel. Throughout history, mental and emotional health has always taken a back seat in comparison to physical health. When our bodies are sick or injured, we usually don’t hesitate to go to the hospital to get the help we need. But when we’re feeling mentally sick or emotionally injured, we don’t usually consider getting professional help—until now, that is. At last, people are finally realizing that their mental and emotional health needs as much care, attention, and maintenance as their physical health does.
For many people, that’s still an abstract concept. What do good mental and emotional hygiene look like, they wonder? For physical things, it’s easy: brush your teeth, eat healthy foods, exercise, etc. For mental and emotional things, it’s not that easy. But the good news is, it can be. With a little direction and guidance, anybody can make small changes in their lives that will help their mental and emotional health. So if you are looking for a little direction and guidance, here is a brief list of tips to practicing better emotional hygiene.
Start in the Morning
One of the best times to get in tune with your emotions is right after you wake up. Before you get out of bed, take a moment to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and pay attention to how you feel. Consider keeping a notepad by your bed so you can keep track of the emotions you wake up with. And once you’ve logged them, take a minute to repeat some positive affirmations and set some emotional goals for the day. Tell yourself that today will be a good day and that if you do end up feeling angry, stressed, sad, or annoyed, that you will react to those emotions in a positive and productive way.
Add Some Silence
When you’re driving to and from work, consider turning off the radio and driving in silence. Even the busiest lives offer a few moments of peace and quiet, and it’s important that we take advantage of them while we can. When you take some time to sit in a quiet place, you are giving yourself an opportunity to pay attention to what you are thinking and how you are feeling. And once you know exactly how you feel, you’ve taken the first step to good emotional hygiene.
See a Therapist
With the “emotional revolution” has come a removal of the stigma that has surrounded seeing a therapist for so long. No longer are therapy visits reserved for people with extreme problems, and no longer are they taboo. More and more people are beginning to realize that visiting a therapist is for everybody who wants to better understand and improve themselves. If you’re looking for new ways to get in touch with your emotions, consider visiting a mental health professional for help.
Treat Yourself in Healthy Ways
Over time, “treating ourselves” has almost become synonymous with “eat a lot of unhealthy food and spend a lot of money!” Of course, that mindset is not sustainable and even unhealthy. If you’re looking to practice good mental hygiene, you’re going to want to find some healthy ways to treat yourself, such as taking a fitness class you love or learning a new skill. Consider doing a small thing to treat yourself every day to make each and every day special.
Focus on the Good
Every night, spend five minutes to focus on everything good that happened that day. Just reflect back on the day and cherish the small moments. Consider keeping a gratitude journal in which you write three or four things that you were grateful for that day. In addition to logging good times, that exercise will help your mind focus on the good, making you more hopeful and optimistic.
It’s the Little Things
Practicing good mental and emotional hygiene is all about the little things. Much like brushing your teeth, when you do it once, it doesn’t have much of an impact, but when you do it consistently, it will help keep your mind and emotions in great shape. So, I encourage you to commit yourself to making a small change to improve your mental and emotional hygiene and sticking with it. You’ll be glad you did!