How to Practice Emotional Hygiene
Emotional hygiene is about noticing and tending to your psychological health. Just as you would practice good physical hygiene with brushing your teeth or showering each day, your emotional hygiene also benefits from small daily practices that keep you feeling balanced.
This includes paying attention to your feelings, maintaining healthy habits, and addressing emotional pain.
Build emotional awareness
Start off by trying to identify how you’re feeling. Whilst some people may be able to quickly identify their feelings, for others it can be harder to put a label to their feelings. Thoughts and physical sensations can be clues to identifying emotions. For example, worried thoughts and muscle tension could indicate fear or anxiety. You could have a look at an ‘Emotion Wheel’ or use our free Take-a-Test Tool to help identify your feelings.
Don’t ignore emotional pain
Pushing away or ignoring emotions might help in the short-term, but over time can leave you feeling worse. Check in with yourself each day by asking “How am I feeling today?” We first need to be aware of our emotions, before being able to manage them. Remember that we all experience emotional pain, it’s important to practice self-compassion and seek support when needed.
Try not to catastrophise
During stressful times, you may tend to focus on imagining the worst case scenario. This is a type of unhelpful thinking style known as catastrophising. Catch yourself when you’re thinking of the worst case scenario and try challenging these thoughts. How helpful is it to focus on an unlikely, negative outcome?
Looking after yourself by doing things that will refuel your ‘emotional energy tank’. Self-care refers to doing what is needed to look after your physical and emotional health. Sometimes this might mean relaxing, or doing something enjoyable like taking a tea break as work, going for a peaceful walk, watching your favourite TV show, or swimming in the ocean. At other times, self-care might mean being firm but kind with yourself, such as making sure you prioritise going to bed at a certain time, drinking less alcohol, or choosing a healthy meal rather than junk food.
Break the cycle
Don’t dwell on the negative stuff. One of the best ways to break negative thinking patterns is to change up your environment and do something that you enjoy, even if you don’t quite feel like it. Some suggestions include getting outside for a change of scenery, starting up an old hobby you used to enjoy, or talking to friends and family. Keep an open mind and see how you feel after the activity.
Challenge negative self-talk
Try to remember that thoughts are not facts. We all have thousands of thoughts every day, some positive, some negative, and some neutral. We can challenge our unhelpful, negative thoughts and try to view situations in a more helpful, balanced way. This may take practice, try to be patient and kind with yourself as you would learning any other new skill. You could start challenging your negative thoughts by asking these questions:
- What is the evidence for that thought?
- Are there more helpful ways to think about this situation?
- What might I say to a close friend if they were thinking that way?
At THIS WAY UP, we have an extensive range of tools and programs available to you to monitor and improve your mental health while practicing emotional hygiene.