Emotional Hygiene

Shaping individuals towards Building a Psychologically Healthy Nation

Ms Anureet Sethi: HOD, IEC of Podar Network of Schools and Founder of Trijog-Know Your Mind

Physical and mental health are directly related. It critically influences the way we think, feel and act with ourselves and those around us.Healthy individuals with a sound mind and body are equipped to meet life's challenges better. They tend to succeed better in school, at work and in society, thereby contributing to healthier nation.

In the past 5 years, a new wave of mental health awareness has risen. Formerly taboo topics such as anxiety and depression, has now been given more importance than never before.As educators, we need to prioritize mental health and stress on the necessity of a sound mind that could aid our youth. It is imperative to teach them the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle, ensuring that equal care is given to their mental and physical wellbeing.

Just as we stress on the importance of dental hygiene and personal hygiene, emotional hygiene refers to being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them. So far, our attention has been focusing on improving our physical health, with no attention dedicated to our psychological and emotional health.

Here are five tips for improving your emotional hygiene:

Pay Attention to Emotional Pain

If you find yourself hurting emotionally for several days because of a rejection, a failure, bad mood, or any other reason, it means you've sustained a psychological wound and you need to treat it with emotional-first-aid techniques immediately.

Stop Emotional Bleeding

Many psychological wounds launch vicious cycles that only make the pain worse. For example, failure can lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of helplessness that only make you more likely to fail again. This is emotional bleeding. Catching these negative cycles and stopping your emotional bleeding is crucial in helping you feel more equipped to handle whatever comes your way.

Protect Your Self-Esteem

Our self-esteem acts as an emotional immune system, which can buffer us and help us become more resilient. Therefore, we should get in the habit of monitoring our self-esteem, boosting it when it is low and avoid negative self-talk which damages it further.
Battle Negative Thinking

It is natural to think about distressing events, but when our thinking becomes repetitive, we are ruminating. Ruminating can affect our psychological and physical health. It can put us at risk for clinical depression and even cardiovascular disease. We have to battle negative thinking and avoid falling into the habit of over-focusing on distressing events.

Being informed about Psychological wounds

There is much greater need to learn about how to treat psychological wounds. When you learn how to treat psychological wounds and teach your children how to do so, you will not only build emotional resilience, you will thrive.

'Emotional hygiene' means using mindfulness or cognitive therapy to get your destructive and disturbing emotions under control.

So when you talk about emotional hygiene, the best techniques are those that build attention and focus. There are many ways in which attention can be used to manage emotion. It is like a mental gym. You're exercising your attention when you focus on one thing and your mind wanders and you notice it wandered. Getting back the focus is the moment of mindfulness.

Mindfulness helps you cultivate a point in your mental world where you're not swept away by your thoughts and feelings. Instead you can note them, saying, "There's that thought again. I'm having that feeling again." Cognitive or 'analytic meditation' allows one to question their own thought patterns, helping analyze how deeply they perceive each situation and then deal with them. This therapy shows you great ways you free yourself from destructive mental habits by stepping back from them and questioning them, rather than being swept away by them.

It is very interesting, that people who experience anxiety cognitively worry too much, wake up in the middle of the night, and can't stop thinking. They calm themselves effectively with a body based approach, like yoga and breathing meditation rather than cognitive meditation.

A Simple Breathing Exercise for Emotional Hygiene

One of the universally effective meditations is a simple meditation on your breath. It's very calming, because breathing is natural and is always there. It is also a metric for how calm you are. If your breathing is very fast, that's a sign you're anxious. But, as you get more relaxed, it becomes slower and slower. Sit upright and bring your attention to your breath. Don't try to control your breath, just let it be natural and easy, but be aware of your breath. Watch the full inhalation, the full exhalation. Be fully aware of the breath; just keep your attention anchored there.

Breathe in and breathe out. You can do this for 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you do it, the more relaxed your body becomes. This exercise is a member of what we call the concentration family of meditation. It's used as the beginning of mindfulness.

Concentration, you could say, is the first step in mindfulness.

Strategies towards Building Psychologically Healthy Children
  • Listen Carefully and emphatically to their feelings
  • Build Emotional Intelligence, Vocabulary & Expression
  • Help them Deal with Different Emotions
  • Provide Consistent Discipline
  • Integrating Emotions
  • Combine Physical Education with Emotional Education (healthy competitiveness, accepting wins and losses, waiting for your turn and co-operating as well as leadership principles).
  • Encourage Active Participation and Voicing of Opinions
  • Build Emotional Quotient into Daily Curriculum
  • Build Creativity as an Outlet for Emotional Expression
  • Teach Problem Solving
  • Help with Routine Management and Realistic Goal Setting
  • Emphasize the importance of Sleep and Exercise
  • Praise & Acknowledge
  • Strike a balance between Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Believing in Inclusion: Understanding that Inclusion is not only about proximity but is making all achieve success despite their strengths and weaknesses
  • Fostering an environment of social sensitivity and awareness in children towards mental wellness.
  • Moving from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness