The iconic psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, once famously said, “Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.” Of course, we are not flowers, are we? Rather, we are complex individuals with all of the feelings and emotions that come with it. As a result of these complexities, sometimes a loved one’s emotional health becomes troubled.
One’s emotional health is often overlooked when it comes to the realm of mental illness. This is because emotional health is either minimized as simply “emotions that everyone deals with,” or is conflated with issues of mental health. Regarding a loved one’s emotional health, it is important to understand the difference between “normal” fluctuating emotions and the need for professional guidance and support.
Additionally, it is also important to understand the difference between a loved one’s emotional health and a loved one’s mental health. When these steps are taken, it will be easier and more accessible to support a loved one’s emotional health when they need it most. The first step is understanding exactly what emotional health and mental health is.
What Exactly Is Emotional Health?
A nice base definition of “emotional health” is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH defines emotional health as “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” So how does that differ from mental health, you may ask? The difference is that mental health primarily exists in the cognitive functioning and behavioral decision-making of an individual.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Emotional Health
Poor emotional health is often the result of poor mental health and not the other way around. However, it should be said that this is certainly not the case in every instance. If your loved ones struggling with their emotional health, they might:
- Be unable to communicate their feelings or concerns with individuals that are close to them
- Feel guilty when having to make a decision that may affect others
- Express an inability to relax
- Have trouble sleeping, such as sleeping too much or sleeping too little
- Exhibit low self-esteem, and/or low self-worth
- Show changes in eating patterns, including over-eating, and not eating enough
- Begin to isolate themselves away from family and loved ones
How to Help a Loved One With Mental Illness or Poor Emotional Health
The good news is that there are several ways that you can support a loved one’s emotional health. These range from the seemingly simple steps of being available when a loved one needs to talk to the more active steps of reaching out to a professional for help. For example, here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we are always available to take any questions or concerns you may have regarding a loved one’s emotional or mental health.
According to NIH, the following are just a few of the ways that you can support a loved one’s emotional health when they are in times of need:
- Help a loved one tap into the community around them. If they are also struggling with issues of addiction or mental health, you can help them connect to more focused support groups.
- Encourage them to engage in more relaxing activities. Relaxing activities will help to reduce their stress levels. This may include taking them to a yoga or fitness class, or a meditation retreat.
- Suggest sober activities. If they are using alcohol or substances to cope with their issues of emotional health, you can suggest other activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Of course, there may be more serious issues of addiction here that should be addressed by a professional.
- Try to be patient. Individuals struggling with issues of emotional health may have trouble communicating or can exhibit mood swings. Try to set an example of calm and good communication that they can emulate.
- Encourage them to reengage in activities they once enjoyed. Explore hobbies, both new and old, to rekindle any spark lost from substance use.
- Discuss and/or introduce the idea of taking on a spiritual practice. Your loved one can consider incorporating prayer or meditation into their daily routine.
- Reach out to an authority. Lastly, you can consider seeking emotional support and guidance from a facility like The Phoenix Recovery Center.
Getting Treatment for Everyone That Is Affected by a Loved One’s Emotional Health
It’s important to remember that just as addiction and mental illness affect everyone around the person that is struggling, so too does negative emotional health. That is why it is important to remember that sometimes it is more than the individual that needs outside help.
Also, know that getting help for yourself also sets a prime example for your loved one to do the same. Taking care of one’s emotional health is often contagious because the results are also often life-changing and visible. We here at The Phoenix Recovery Center have seen it happen firsthand. The Phoenix Recovery Center can help you see it happen too.
Freud also once said, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Those are the two characteristics that we show when we help a loved one struggling with their emotional health. With the right amount of work and time, they will come to understand that too.
For more information on supporting emotional and mental health, please contact The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.