What Is Emotional Health?

Defining Emotional Health

Emotional health is about connecting with, accepting, managing, and expressing emotions in healthy ways. It includes how you experience emotions in order to strengthen your relationship with yourself and with other people.

When it comes to health, emotional health is often an area that people overlook. For one thing, there’s so much emphasis on physical and mental growth. For another, emotional health can feel more elusive. Like physical and mental health, there are emotional “healthy basics” – elements that are beneficial for everyone. Examples include taking time to connect with yourself and your emotions on a regular basis, balancing periods of emotional rest and emotional processing, and balancing introspection with interpersonal connection. Still, emotional health is incredibly bio-individual; there’s no right or wrong way to relate to and work with your feelings and emotions.

The Power of Social Connection

Emotional health is deeply tied to social health. Social health is the ability to connect with and form enjoyable meaningful relationships with others. Healthy connections calm the nervous system and help us self-regulate. As humans, we all want to belong, and nurturing connections is just as important for survival as shelter or food. For thousands of years, humans lived in groups(this link opens in a new window/tab) . We’re biologically wired to connect to a larger community – to a collective energy larger than ourselves – and finding your tribe(this link opens in a new window/tab)  is a powerful form of preventive medicine.

Today, many people feel disconnected. Modern life continues to shift, and we’re often forced to adapt to new circumstances we’re not biologically wired for. Take, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. This fundamentally changed the way we lived, particularly the way we socialized. Many people worked remotely, many schools went virtual, and day-to-day interactions were significantly reduced.

Though virtual connection is more and more possible, the lack of in-person connection can feel limiting. In these isolating times, many people form emotional attachments to pets, or even plants, as caring for something or someone can emotionally nourish us.

Pause and Reflect

Consider how the global pandemic affected your social health. How did your daily, weekly, and monthly routines shift? How did the quantity and quality of your social interactions change?