If you don’t know what emotional hygiene is, don’t worry; most people don’t!
Here’s a brief definition:
In much the same way that dental hygiene involves brushing our teeth
and flossing every day, and personal hygiene involves cleaning ourselves
and taking care of physical injuries when we sustain them, 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.
Currently, our general neglect of our emotional hygiene is profound.
How is it we spend more time each day taking care of our teeth than our
minds? We brush and floss but what daily activity do we do to maintain
our psychological health?
I would argue the consequences of lacking emotional hygiene are much
worse that lacking dental hygiene—after all, which would you rather
lose, a tooth or your mind?
Indeed, it seems that all our attention goes toward our physical health with none left over for our psychological
health. How many habits have you adopted and changed over the years to
better your physical health? All the constantly changing dietary
practices and exercise regimes; self-exams for breast or testicular
cancer; annual check-ups; physical therapies; and the many
over-the-counter remedies we use for aches and pains.
Now ask yourself what habits you’ve adopted to better your
psychological health: Do you monitor psychological injuries such as
failure or rejection when you sustain them, to make sure your self-esteem recovers and rebounds? Are you aware of the ways negative self-talk impacts your emotional resilience?
Do you know how to break out of a cycle of ruminating and brooding
about distressing events? Chances are the answer to these questions is
To get you started, here are five tips for improving your emotional hygiene:
1. Pay Attention to Emotional Pain
If a physical ache or pain doesn’t get better in a few days, you
probably take some kind of action. The same should be true of
psychological pain. If you find yourself hurting emotionally for several
days because of a rejection, a failure, a 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.
2. 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 in
the future. Having awareness of these consequences, catching these
negative cycles, and stopping your emotional bleeding by correcting them
is crucial in many such situations.
3. Protect Your Self-Esteem
Our self-esteem acts as an emotional immune system which can buffer us and lend us greater emotional resilience.
Therefore, we should get in the habit of monitoring our self-esteem,
boosting it when it is low, and avoiding negative self-talk of the kind
that damages it further.
4. Battle Negative Thinking
It is natural to think about distressing events, but when our
thinking becomes repetitive we are no longer problem-solving, we are ruminating.
Ruminating can be very costly to our psychological health, as well as
to our physical health, and 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.
5. Become Informed About the Impact of Psychological
There is much more we need to learn about emotional hygiene and how
to treat psychological wounds.
Fortunately, much information is
available in this blog as well as elsewhere on Psychology Today.com. When
you learn how to treat psychological wounds—and teach your children how
to do so as well—you will not only build emotional resilience, you will
Reference: by Guy Winch