November 19, 2022

How to Improve Emotional Hygiene

Writer: Felicia Chico. Editor: Manya Dhupar

What is Emotional Hygiene?

Emotional hygiene is much like physical hygiene in that we are taking consistent steps to establish good habits that will benefit our overall health. But emotional hygiene focuses on our psychological health and the habits that we can establish to monitor and battle psychological injuries. Part of good emotional hygiene is being cognizant of the efforts we make to take care of our minds and setting aside time to address our psychological wounds.

Here are some tips for establishing a good emotional hygiene routine:

  1. Learn to recognize emotional pain  

Just like we wouldn’t let a broken arm or bad cut go without treatment, we should not let emotional injuries and pain go untreated. A good first habit to establish is simply recognizing that we are experiencing emotional pain so that we can address it. While recognizing emotional injuries might not be as easy as recognizing physical ones, our bodies do alert us when there is something wrong all the same. Like bruises are a visual marker of an internal injury, behaviors like isolation and misplaced anger are indicators of a psychological wound that needs to be treated.

  1. Catch negative emotional cycles before they spiral

We all know the feeling of one bad day turning into a bad week, then a bad month and so on. It is easy to let our negative emotions combine and pile on top of one another but being aware of the cycle can help us stop it before it gets out of hand. To do this, we have to practice redirecting our gut reactions to failure, rejection, loss, etc. It is vital to not dwell on our gut reactions of feeling helpless, ashamed, or embarrassed, and shift to focusing on what we can control in these situations. By thinking instead about how to do better next time or navigate an alternate plan, we reduce the chances of our negative emotions stacking atop one another and suffocating us, thus breaking the cycle.

  1. Take time to learn what emotional hygiene treatments work for you

Part of healing whether it be physical or psychological, it is finding out which specific treatments work for us. Dealing with our emotional wounds can take a bit of adjusting as what works for some people might not work for others. Facing negative emotions head on might work for one person while another might refuse to even acknowledge that they have experienced years-old psychological wounds that need healing. Trying different techniques and tools to combat emotional injuries is the best way to establish an effective emotional first-aid kit.

Sources:

https://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-practice-emotional-first-aid/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201412/5-ways-improve-your-emotional-health

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Felicia Chico is a Psychology Intern at Thaddeus Resource Center. She is a rising senior at UC Davis working to obtain her bachelor's degree in Psychology and Human Development. After graduation, she plans to get a master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy to help couples and families heal. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, going to music festivals, and traveling.