Relationships are the fabric of our lives. Healthy, fulfilling relationships often need help becoming or staying that way. Whether family, parental, spousal or professional, therapy provides the awareness and tools to make your relationships better.
How does emotional health affect my relationships?
Mental and emotional health does not mean that a person is simply absent of any mental illnesses. A person can have no negative feelings towards themselves or experience a psychological issue and still not be feeling good. In order to be mentally and emotionally healthy, one must do things that makes them feel positive, not just neutral. This is precisely what mental and emotional health is: the presence of positive characteristics. Relationships are certainly complicated, but the quality of your relationships greatly contributes to your overall psychological well-being.
People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:
- A sense of contentment
- A zest for living and an ability to have fun and laugh
- The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity
- A sense of meaning and purpose in both their activities and relationships
- The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to changes
- A balance between work and play, rest and activity
- The ability to build and maintain meaningful relationships
- Self confidence and high self-esteem
Supportive relationships: The foundation of emotional health
As humans, we are social creatures in need of positive connections to others. The best way to successfully improve your mental and emotional health is to utilize the company of others rather than devoting your time to improving your well-being on your own. Our social brains crave companionship in order to thrive – even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.
Social interaction—specifically talking to someone else about your problems—can also help to reduce stress. What you need is a supportive relationship with a person who can listen to you talk regularly without a pre-existing agenda for how you should think or feel. This person should not be critical or judgmental towards you and your problems, but supportive and attentive. The best way to find a good listener? Be a good listener yourself. Develop a friendship with someone you can talk to regularly, and then listen and support each other.
Risk factors that can compromise mental and emotional health:
Your mental and emotional health has been and will continue to be shaped by your experiences. Early childhood experiences are especially significant. Genetic and biological factors can also play a role, but these too can be changed by experience.
Some risk factors include:
- Poor connection or attachment to your primary caretaker early in life. Feeling lonely, isolated, unsafe, confused, or abused as an infant or young child.
- Traumas or serious losses, especially early in life. Death of a parent or other traumatic experiences such as war or hospitalization.
- Learned helplessness. Negative experiences that lead to a belief that you’re helpless and that you have little control over the situations in your life.
- Illness, especially when it’s chronic, disabling, or isolates you from others.
- Side effects of medications, especially in older people who may be taking a variety of medications.
- Substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse can both cause mental health problems and make preexisting mental or emotional problems worse.
Other Red Flags:
- Inability to sleep
- Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
- Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life
- Using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions
- Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control
- Thoughts of death or suicide