During his TEDx talk, psychologist Guy Winch reveals that emotional hygiene is an often neglected part of our self-care rituals. We can become so focused on the health of the body that we neglect the health of the mind.
Mental health doesn’t just require that you eat the right foods or get enough sleep each night, although those things are crucial for your overall functionality. There’s also inner work that you must do to have more positive, healthy self-talk.
Here’s why engaging in your emotional life is a lot more important than you might think.
Emotions Are Indicators
The key to a thriving mind is a well-tended emotional life. When you feel joy or pain or anger or disappointment, your emotions indicate something that your body is experiencing while you engage with the world around you.
Sometimes those feelings simply need to be soothed so that they don’t get in the way of your productivity. However, if your emotions become stubborn and unresolvable, they might be trying to tell you that something deeper is wrong.
It may take some serious self-reflection to access the root of those feelings. This process can be tiresome, but it’s worth it so that you don’t end up stuffing down and neglecting your emotions. Suppressing emotions can be detrimental to your health, with some studies even linking the added stress of this suppression with a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Negative Emotions Require Attention
Loneliness, failure, helplessness, pain- all of these negative emotions need to be addressed and tended to. You have the power to break negative mental cycles that keep you feeling down. In the video, Dr. Winch claims that breaking these cycles requires positive practices that boost your self-esteem.
Self-assurance is a powerful tool to help remedy overwhelmingly negative emotions. The way you speak to yourself and the thoughts you let into your mind all matter.
Dr. Winch compares emotional injuries to the way we deal with physical injuries. He says that no one would get an injured arm and try to make the injury more severe by taking a knife to it. Similarly, we are to treat our negative emotions with healing compassion to not deepen an already painful injury.
The Importance of Distraction
When you’re feeling heavy, there’s a temptation to ruminate on all of your faults and shortcomings. But Dr. Winch claims that distraction is actually a useful tool to help break you out of that cycle so that you can address those thoughts with a healthier mindset.
Distractions are not meant to help you avoid upsetting feelings altogether. Instead, they are meant to lighten the emotional toll it would otherwise take if you confronted your thoughts in a deep moment of pain. The point of finding a short distraction when you feel heavy is ultimately to equip you to address your negative thought cycle with a greater emotional capacity.