If you break a leg no one tells you to walk it off. You make sure it’s properly looked after. However, we sustain psychological injuries all the time says psychologist Guy Winch. So why don’t we look after our emotional health as well as our physical health?
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are in a month where emotions run high. With any luck they are extremely positive, gooey, heartwarming ones. It is immediately off the back of a particularly blue month of the year – the long, cold, dark days of January.
The emotional rollercoaster between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is enough in itself for us to think that we need to give ourselves an emotional break. Some recovery time. Some time to heal. That’s without any of the significant emotional events that we will each experience, both high and low, in our own personal lives.
In his highly viewed Ted Talk, Winch talks about the fact that as children we learn very quickly that we need to look after our bodies. We clean our teeth. We put plasters on cuts and grazes to prevent infection. If we have a nagging pain or don’t feel right, we visit the doctor. However, we don’t apply the same logic to our psychological wellbeing.
Where we take a preventative approach to many aspects of physical health to keep everything in working order, we push our minds to the limits. When we suffer psychological injury through grief or loss or guilt or loneliness, we push ourselves to simply get on with things. We don’t allow time for the proverbial Lemsips, plasters and fluoride to do their work. Most of us certainly don’t enlist the help of a professional until there is something fundamentally wrong.
Winch doesn’t talk about seeing psychologists however, what he proposes is essentially simple, but not necessarily easy. He proposes that we all learn to practice emotional hygiene in the same way that we do physical hygiene. He talks about developing simple and easy techniques and habits to expunge negative thinking and to protect our emotional wellbeing and self-esteem.
It was a thought echoed by at the Duke of Cambridge at the 2018 This Can Happen Conference last year. It was the largest corporate mental health event to ever take place in the UK. He said: “Just as we need to look after our physical health, we need to look after our mental health” . The Prince and his brother have been amongst the leaders in the conversation about mental health and the importance of looking after ourselves.
So it got us thinking about our own emotional first aid kit and the spa experts who have given us techniques for protecting and caring for our emotional health. Here are just a few ideas:
Tapping on acupuncture points can be used to relax the mind body for positive decision making and to manage damaging feelings such as stress and food cravings.
How the right nutrition and your gut health can have a huge impact on your mental and emotional health.
How being introduced to positive breathing techniques can be really helpful for mental health and anxiety.
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