Have you ever heard about emotional hygiene? Psychologists believe that just as we practice physical hygiene, we should learn how to practice emotional hygiene. In this article, I will share with you what emotional hygiene is and how to make it a part of your life!
So, What Is Emotional Hygiene?
Dr. Guy Winch says: “emotional hygiene refers to being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them.”
In other words, emotional hygiene is the ability to live in harmony with your emotions and keep them under control. It is important to learn to understand your emotions and not to suppress or try to get rid of them. The first step on the road to emotional health is awareness.
By prioritizing your mind as well as your body, you make a step towards better mental health.
Here are some tips to help increase emotional awareness, understand the origin of emotions and learn how to express them properly.
How to Practice Emotional Hygiene?
1. Recognize Your Emotion
It is important to keep track of the moment when the emotion is manifested and try not to get involved into it. Take a deep breath instead. Exhale. Give yourself time to observe your condition. What do you feel? How would you define what disturbs you now?
By identifying and observing our emotions, we increase our awareness and learn to understand ourselves.
Behind our anger and irritation, fear can be hidden. And our anxiety often arises from uncertainty. Think about the emotions you’re feeling right now. What is hidden behind them?
It is very important to get to know your emotions, what causes them, and what’s hidden behind them.
2. Identify the Main Triggers
Emotions do not arise without a reason. They are caused by certain situations, events, people, etc. It is very important to identify your main triggers, so that next time you can control your condition and consciously change the reaction to them.
For example, when you are rude, most often there is aggression and the desire to say something offensive in response behind it. This is the most banal trigger for anger and irritation. If you react to this situation with a destructive emotion, then you will create even more negative feelings about it. Most likely, very soon you will regret about what you said and how you reacted. It wastes both time and energy.
The formula of emotional behavior: a trigger – emotion – action.
Learn to recognize triggers and switch destructive emotions to positive ones in order to control yourself and behave consciously.
3. Be in Contact With Your Body
They say that emotions are often reflected in the face. But not only that. Our whole body is a conduit for emotional impulses. When you get emotional try to observe how your breathing, the rhythm of your heart, the tension in your body, and the sensitivity of your skin are changing.
If we don’t control our emotions then emotions take control over both – our mind and body. Therefore, being in contact with your body is an important step towards emotional stability and awareness.
4. Make Pauses
Once you have identified the main triggers and the emotional response to them, learn to make a pause between the reaction and the next action.
Feeling angry? Do not rush to show it in your behavior. Take a deep breath and count down to 10. This pause will help to return to a controlled and conscious state and not act out of emotions.
5. Take Control Over Your Emotions
To observe emotional hygiene, you need to learn to identify, accept and express your emotions in a healthy way.
It takes time and practice to learn how to control such strong emotions like anger, fear, and irritation. But when we finally learn how to do it, it increases our ability to consciously and qualitatively live life without wasting energy. Moreover, it teaches us how to be more patient and forgiving towards ourselves and others.
6. Protect Your Self-Esteem
Your self-esteem is like an emotional immune system – it can increase your resilience and protect you from stress and anxiety. Good emotional hygiene involves avoiding negative self-talk that damages your self-esteem and self-love.
Do you have a habit of criticizing yourself? This habit should be replaced with a new one – approving yourself. If you feel like you did something wrong just ask yourself: “Could I do it differently?” If the answer is “no”, just accept the fact that you did everything you could. But if the answer is “yes”, instead of criticizing yourself tell yourself: “It was a good lesson. I learned it and I’m grateful for it. Next time I’ll do better!”.
The Bottom Line
Emotional hygiene is keeping your mind clear of negative thoughts, much like you would keep your hands clean from germs. We could all benefit from being more aware of our own emotional hygiene, not just at home, but at work, too. We all need to make emotional hygiene our daily routine.
Teach your kids physical hygiene. Make it a normal thing for them. It should be as normal as things like washing hands before meals, brushing teeth and bandaging a wound to prevent infection.