Being in good physical health matters to our overall well-being, but emotional health is just as important. There are many reasons to be proactive and to ensure our emotional well-being receives all the attention it deserves.
One of those reasons is that a healthy emotional response can help cope better with stress. Researchers have found that being under stress makes us more vulnerable to disease. At the same time, emotional well-being boosts our resilience to stressful experiences, and therefore reduces the chances of falling ill due to stress.
And when we have a positive outlook on life, we also benefit from better self-image and self-esteem and we are in a better position to develop stronger relationships with others. In turn, having a social support network is considered a predictor of better physical and mental health.
So, what steps can you take to improve your emotional well-being?
First of all, it’s important to know exactly what you are trying to achieve. A healthy emotional response is all about balance. It doesn’t mean that you are never upset or that negative events don’t affect you. Instead, it means that you are able to understand and manage your response to negative experiences.
Developing self-awareness is essential to emotional well-being. Some useful things you can do in this respect include:
- Training yourself to identify negative emotions as soon as they appear. Instead of letting your day be ruined by “a bad mood”, try to name the specific emotions that are upsetting you and remember that you can deal with them in different ways: constructively and destructively.
- Examining your motives and reactions. There’s always a reason behind our behavior, thoughts, and feelings, and finding out what exactly drives certain responses can give you more control over your emotional health.
- Replacing negative self-talk with compassion, patience, and self-love. Treat yourself like you would treat a loved one!
In addition to working on emotional self-awareness, there are other strategies that can help you boost your emotional well-being. You can start by developing a coping strategy. There are many choices out there, from counselling or therapy to meditation, journaling, and music therapy. Remember that the goal is not to eliminate negative emotions, but to learn how to cope with them so they don’t take over your life.
Having a regular exercise routine can help too. Working out has physical and psychological benefits, even if all you can manage is a 15-minute walk. The key is to be consistent and to find an activity you enjoy. That way, you will always be motivated to exercise.
Also, work on the quality of your personal relationships. Nowadays, we spend a lot of time on social media, which isn’t always conducive to meaningful connections. As mentioned before, having a supportive network of friends and relatives can act as a shield against negative emotions.
Don’t forget a good night’s sleep!
Lastly, don’t overlook the importance of being well rested and getting enough sleep. Research studies have shown that fatigue can magnify our interpretation of the impact of negative events and interfere with our emotional control. As you have probably noticed at some point, being tired can make you irritable and affects work performance and interactions with others. To prevent this, you can:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Create a relaxing bedroom environment, making sure lighting and temperature are just right.
- Avoid late afternoon caffeine and in the evenings.
Is sleep apnea affecting the quality of your sleep?
However, there are some health conditions that can negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Sleep apnea is one of them, and it is worth mentioning because it affects millions of people. This disorder causes the throat muscles to relax to the point of blocking the airways, which results in breathing interruptions lasting several seconds. People with sleep apnea go through several episodes of breathing interruptions every night, which are followed by an abrupt awakening.
The situation is worse for people with obstructive sleep apnea, as they can stop breathing up to 30 times every hour; for some people, there can be 100 or more pauses in breathing every night. The constant interruptions make it impossible to rest well, and as a result, daytime functioning is impaired, too.
These “apneas” -- or pauses in breathing -- also rob the body (and brain) of oxygen during the night, which has a detrimental affect on overall health. Sleep apnea has been linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune system, diabetes, and dementia.
Some of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring, gasping, or snorting.
- Morning headaches.
- Daytime fatigue or drowsiness.
- Mood disorders, including depression.
- Poor concentration.
Because of its health effects, this condition needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If you have any of the symptoms above, talk with a SleepQuest sleep specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.
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