We, here in Retirement Life place great emphasis on emotional health. While many expect that we should be talking about physical health, getting and staying active, which we do, we are aware that we can so often forget the importance and value of emotional health, particularly as we approach the new milestone of “life in retirement”.
As we focus on the importance of good mental health in our retirement years, we are also aware that not so long ago in our work-life, the very mention of mental health had eyebrows flashing and suspicions aroused as to how “mentally sound” this person might be!. Thankfully, in a more enlightened decade, more and more well-known and less-well-known people are coming out expressing the issues around their mental health which they have experienced while presenting all the appearances of being in top-class form on a daily basis. Thankfully, the fact that we all have emotional issues to deal with as we tread the sands of life, has brought people to speak openly about their personal experiences of stress, anxiety, emotional health and mild or chronic depression.
So here we take a brief look at three interrelated aspects of mental health, more specifically at emotional health and emotional wellness.
Emotional health is defined by the degree to which you feel emotionally secure and relaxed in everyday life. An emotionally healthy person has a relaxed body, an open mind and an open heart. The more emotional health you possess, the more self esteem you have. This means you do not frequently react with knee jerk responses, anxiety or panic to the events that occur in your life. Instead, you are usually calm and patient with yourself and others. This means you are an emotionally safe person. Emotionally safe people do not judge or criticise others. This is because they have learned not to judge and criticise themselves. They would often issue the phrase or internalise the notion that “you need to walk in that person’s shoes to know what is happening”.
Emotionally healthy people feel safe and secure with their own emotions and feelings. They allow themselves to feel their feelings and emotions instead of avoiding them or trying to control them.
Anxiety is what keeps you from being able to feel your emotions and feelings. Therefore, overcoming your anxiety will dramatically improve your emotional health, and will contribute to your emotional wellness and emotional intelligence. As you learn to feel your emotions and stand up to your “Inner Critic”, you will become more relaxed, open and emotionally secure. The less judgmental you become, the more your emotional health is enhanced. To be emotionally healthy you must express your emotions in healthy, assertive ways. Sadly, most people are lacking in being emotionally healthy. Why?
Unfortunately, most people are not comfortable with their own feelings and emotions. Indeed, the opposite is true. Many people judge, humiliate, make fun of and criticise their own emotions and feelings. This means they also judge, humiliate, make fun and criticise other peoples’ emotions and feelings. Anxiety and stress keeps you from being able to access your emotions and feelings. Therefore, anyone can be emotionally sensitive if they are open, trusting and relaxed. When you are relaxed and open, you have access to your emotions and feelings. So, the more you relax and overcome your anxiety, the more you will be effective in relationships at work or at home throughout your Retirement Life.
Emotional Wellness is a little different.
Emotional health is on a continuum and it fluctuates moment by moment. Therefore, emotional wellness is at the upper end of this continuum.
Emotional wellness is when you have such a high degree of emotional health that you radiate joy more often. Many would describe this as being “spiritually healthy” where your own goodness transcends to those around you. Therefore, emotional wellness refers to a state where you can have so much healthy, flowing energy that you have vibrant moments, enriched experiences and peak performances. This is when you are really self-actualised. The concept of Self-Actualisation is regularly ascribed to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his human needs pyramid. At the apex he places the concept of self-actualisation and in the context of emotional wellness, this is the state you enjoy as you move closer and closer to being self-actualised.