You may have heard the terms “mental health” and “emotional health” used interchangeably to talk about your mental and emotional states. And it’s true that both of these concepts are necessary for a good quality of life. However, the two ideas, while connected, do not mean the same things. In this article, we’ll cover emotional health vs mental health, how they’re linked, and ways to improve both.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Oftentimes, it is used as an umbrella term to describe how you think, feel, and act. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health concerns “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
When your mental health is poor, it may be due to a mental illness. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans experience mental health conditions each year. Two of the most common mental health issues are depression and anxiety. Additionally, other kinds of mental illnesses include:
- Mood disorders
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
Do note, however, that good mental health is not necessarily the absence of a mental health disorder. Instead, it embraces the idea of a healthy state of mental well-being. In short, not having a mental illness is great, but there may still be a problem if you’re consistently unhappy.
What Is Emotional Health?
Emotional health, on the other hand, focuses on a much narrower scope. It might even help to think of it as an extension of your mental health. Emotional health incorporates the ideas of emotional intelligence and emotional regulation.
Emotional intelligence deals with identifying your emotions, understanding where they come from and using them in a constructive manner. Meanwhile, emotional regulation pertains to managing and controlling your emotions. It helps you to control your thoughts and adjust your behavior.
However, don’t confuse good emotional health with constant happiness. You are still allowed to feel negative emotions, such as stress, anger, and sadness. But, if you’re emotionally healthy, you know how to manage them. In addition, you don’t let the bad emotions overwhelm and get the best of you. When life gets you down, you can pick yourself back up.
Emotional Health vs Mental Health: Ways to Improve Both
If you’re struggling with mental or emotional health, there are ways to manage these harmful thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These include:
- Familiarize yourself with your emotions: What makes you sad, frustrated, or angry? By evaluating your emotion problems, you can change the way you deal with them. For example, while lashing out against someone you care about can feel good at the moment, it can cause damage in the long-term. Next time, you can decide to take a more compassionate approach.
- Let your feelings out: Bottling up your feelings is not healthy. In fact, doing so can cause problems in your relationships. If you’re feeling unwell, tell the people you care about.
- Learn to manage your stress: Chronic stress can be very bad for your emotional and mental health. Try to find outlets for your stress, including deep breathing, meditation, journaling, listening to music, talking to a therapist, leisure time, and contemplation.
- Take care of your physical health: Good physical health can impact your overall health. Exercising can release endorphins, the “happiness” hormones. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating a balanced diet is also important.
- Make good social connections: Humans are social animals, and positive social connections can help you feel fulfilled. Keeping up your connections with loved ones, either in person or over the phone, can help your mental health. Additionally, expanding your social circle can help.
- Find a purpose in life: Getting fulfillment out of what you do is important. This can range from work to family to volunteering.
Self-Care Is Not Your Only Option
Sometimes, however, dealing with problems on your own may not seem like an option. In this case, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. Perhaps this involves seeing a therapist to talk through your problems. Or maybe it means finding a psychiatrist to prescribe you medications. It can even entail going to a residential treatment facility for more intense care. Whatever the case, know that help is out there.
Get the Help You Need
Many times, facing mental and emotional health issues is too much to handle alone. However, with the compassionate staff at Cambridge Behavioral Hospital, you are never alone.