Emotional Hygiene

If our emotional hygiene is as bad as our dental hygiene, we’d be all gums and no teeth.

-Guy Winch

Hygiene is the practice to maintain health and prevent diseases especially through cleanliness. It can be practiced by cleaning our body, hair, teeth, trimming our nails, wearing clean clothes, putting a Band-Aid on scrapes and cuts and being mindful of what we intake etc.

Just as physical hygiene is considered important for our wellbeing; so are other aspects of our life. The question here is, have we forgotten that the brain is also a part of our body? That emotional stress affects our daily routine? That shoving things under the carpet, doesn’t make it vanish under the floor, but instead they stay right where they are left. And if we haven’t forgotten, then are we taking care of our emotional and mental hygiene as we take care of our physical hygiene?

Well, you may be wondering what is the concept of emotional hygiene? It simply refers to being mindful of our psychological health, stresses, emotional traumas, suffering, and pain. According to the author Guy Winch “Mental health is about diagnosable conditions like depression and anxiety. Emotional health is about common experiences like loneliness, failure, and heartbreak, the non-diagnosable stuff”.

Emotional hygiene on its own is a pretty important concept which is not given the attention it deserves. Why is it that we are expected to get right back up after failure but not if you are physically injured? Where in fact, psychological injury does not only affect daily lives, but also can contribute to very damaging results. 

How can one manage to go on with their lives, focus, concentrate, meet deadlines if the mind is in chaos?  You can’t really be content without taking care of the chaos in your mind. Without acknowledging, putting the band aid and giving time to heal the psychological injury. And if you are not content, you somewhere miss the joy and joyful things in your everyday lives, which reflects in the overall wellbeing.

There is a difference between emotions and feelings “A fundamental difference between feelings and emotionsis that feelings are experienced consciously, while emotions manifest either consciously or subconsciously. Some people may spend years, or even a lifetime, not understanding the depths of their emotions”.

To practice emotional first aid, learn to acknowledge your emotions. When there is a psychological injury your body gives you signals (just like it would give you sensation for physical injury) by disturbance in your diet, sleep pattern, mood and pleasure in daily activities. Try to be aware.

When you face rejection, failure or a thought, activity, situation that troubles you, try to direct it towards your gut reaction and feelings. Try to analyse what it is actually making you feel. Is it affecting your self-esteem, making you feel low, taking a toll on your self-confidence?

Self-Care would play one of the most important roles in maintaining emotional hygiene. The theory of self-care comes into existence when you are aware of the self. Self-care comes from choosing you. So, don’t forget to choose you.

Practice compassion and kindness towards yourself even on days when everyone and everything flows against you even if it is your own-self. Rather than beating yourself down, be there to pick yourself up. Our thoughts are very fickle in nature, some days they can be your best friend other days your greatest critic. Take a conscious step towards ruminating on negative thoughts and emotional bleeding.

In the words of Dr. Winch “When you are in emotional pain,treat yourselfwith the same emotional compassion you would expect from a good friend.”

You are important.

So are all aspects of your health.

References:

  • Greenwald, A. (2017, September 28). Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid. Retrieved from https://www.onthegoga.com/blog/2017/9/28/emotional-first-aid
  • Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.guywinch.com/
  • Winch, G. (2015, December 8). 7 ways to practice emotional first aid. Retrieved from https://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-practice-emotional-first-aid/
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