What is Emotional Health?

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My sophomore year, I had a lot of breakdowns. I found myself overrun by anxiety and unable to do life well because I was so overwhelmed. I made myself do everything all the time; I never said no to anyone and I believed that, in order to "be successful" I had to act as invincible as Wonder Woman. I think it goes without saying that, at one point, I hit a wall. I crashed, completely exhausted and unsure of what to do. I thought I was healthy; I was in counseling, I was in a good place with Jesus, I was physically healthy, but I still wasn't okay.

When I hit that wall, one of my friends recommended that I check out my emotional health. He suggested that I listen to a sermon series on emotional health (a link to the series is at the end of the blog) and as I listened, my life changed. Prior to that fall, I had no idea that emotional health was even a thing, nor that it was something that I needed to pay attention to. Since then, I've learned a lot, and I've learned that my emotional health is a priority just like my mental, spiritual, and physical health. Today, I'm going to share what I've learned. 

What is emotional health?
Just like physical health is about our bodies and mental health is about our minds, our emotional health deals directly with our emotions. It's kind of a thought-shifting thing when we realize that our emotions have to be taken care of too. When we're growing up, we're often told what we need to feel. We're rarely encouraged to feel whatever the natural response is, and in our culture, what we feel is often irrelevant, because what's important is "getting the job done." Emotional health is about how we handle our emotions, how we emotionally react to different things and what kind of role we let our emotions have in our lives. For some, becoming emotionally healthy looks like learning how not to let their emotions rule their lives. For others (like me), emotional health comes by allowing themselves to feel anything at all.

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Why does emotional health matter?
Emotional health matters for the same reason that any health matters. Whether we like to admit it or not, our emotions play a huge role in our everyday lives. If we're emotionally unhealthy, it's really likely that a lot of other areas of our lives are unhealthy too. The state of our emotional health affects how we interact with others, how we handle stress, how we do in school, our relationships, how we view God, and more. The difference that emotional health makes is huge, but I honestly couldn't tell how unhealthy I was until I began to move towards being emotionally healthy.  

You can’t be spiritually mature
while remaining emotionally immature.
— Peter Scazzero

How can I take care of my emotional health? 
Honestly, I think it's different for everyone, but there are definitely some generic tips that I can offer. 

  • Go to counseling. // Counseling has changed my life, and my therapist has played a huge role in my emotional health. MC has free counseling services, so if you're serious about getting emotionally healthy, check them out. (Click here to learn more.)
  • Ask yourself questions. // Seems simple, but sometimes it's hard to do a self check-in. Ask yourself how you are, what you're feeling, why you're feeling that way, and anything else you might need. Being self aware is a huge part of being emotionally healthy. 
  • Journal & Pray // This kind of bounces off the last one, but for me it's two different steps. Taking my thoughts and emotions to God is the only way I know how not to let them rule in my life. My time spent journaling, praying, and processing with the Father is my favorite time of the day. The role this plays in my emotional health is that it gets what I'm thinking and feeling out of my brain and I get to hand it over to God. No matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert, it's important to spend time alone with God everyday. 
  • Let yourself feel things. // This tip goes out to Pashton (Past-Ashton.. get it?). I am not naturally a really emotional person, so I've spent a lot of my life stuffing the things I do feel away, because they're inconvenient. When I learned that, "To be human is to feel." my world shattered (in a good way). Emotionally health doesn't mean learning to professionally stuff emotions away, it means learning how to feel what you need to feel, but not to give your emotions authority in your life. 
  • Stop & Rest // Obviously rest looks different for everyone, but at the end of the day, we all need it. Whether your chance to rest is just an hour off from studying, or a whole day spent practicing the Sabbath, rest is so neccessary. If we never stop, we never have the chance to see how we're really doing. If you're "too busy to spend any time resting" reevaluate what's important, because self care should be near the top of that list. 

Learn more: 
(Click the title for the links)

I could talk about emotional health for a long, long time, but I'll stop here. Prioritizing my emotional health has changed my life in more ways that I can tell you, friends. Our culture, and the fact that we're students, doesn't make emotional health an easy thing. But, that doesn't mean that if we want to be emotionally healthy, it can't happen. I promise you that it can.

I hope that this blog can encourage you to learn more about how to take care of your emotional health; I promise you won't regret making it a priority. 

Good luck, friends, and I hope your journey to emotional health teaches you as much as it taught me. 

Ashton
Emotional health junkie, Girl Scout cookie fanatic, Gryffindor

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