Making sense of emotional health can be tricky for men.
Getting all touchy, feely drives many guys away from understanding their emotional world!
How do you measure your emotional wellbeing?
Defining Emotional Health
The Mental Health Foundation defines emotional health as:
‘A positive sense of wellbeing which enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life; people in good mental health have the ability to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune’
The F word
Using the F word (feelings, there, I said it!)) is not the only way of getting to grips with defining emotional health and wellbeing.
Being emotionally positive all the time is a popular pursuit of most people but also not a completely accurate measure.
Having the skills to recognise, accept and express all feelings, the good and bad ones certainly comes close to strong emotional health.
If the expression of feelings is just one element of emotional health what else do we need to consider?
Below are some bite size chunks of other aspects to emotional health to get your teeth in to!
STRENGTH – The holistic variety
Many guys think physical when they hear the term ‘strength’.
From an emotional health perspective the strength of a man is a combination of his emotional, physical, spiritual, mental and interpersonal life.
The valuing of emotion, engaging in spiritual (not necessarily religious) activities and working consciously at developing good relationships all significantly improve emotional health and wellbeing.
EMOTIONS – Look beyond the mask
Despite their struggle to identify and express themselves men are emotional beings. They hold feelings of love, kindness, empathy, compassion and nurture.
Men’s emotional lives tend to be hidden. However an active, alive and complex emotionality exists behind most men’s masks.
Emotional acceptance is an art. Practice takes guys beyond the guise of macho, blokeyness and goes along way toward enhancing emotional wellbeing.
EXPRESSION – Showing up
Ok, so here comes the F word, again! Managing stress does entail the expression of emotion including a plethora of feelings such as fear, worry, grief and anger.
Showing up means communication with a trustworthy close friend, partner, family member, work mate or therapist.
Expression is vital for emotional health in particular because the holding back or pushing away of emotions creates so much more pain and ultimately more stress.
WORTH – Prioritise what really matters
Self worth is emotional. There are thoughts and feelings in the stories we tell ourselves.
Many guys determine their self worth by rating their physical strength, job status, and even financial and material wealth.
These benchmarks of self worth certainly have a purpose but can be fraught because fitness, work and money can be transitory and uncertain at the best of times.
A blokes’ self worth may be more influenced by his capacity to develop his own values and personal qualities, an inner strength.
RECOVERY – Building resilience
True emotional strength has everything to do with resilience, the capacity to bounce back and recover from difficult times.
It’s establishing a balance between seeking out support as well as developing resilience independently of others.
Recovery needs focus, creativity, flexibility and wisdom during the bad times.
PHYSICAL HEALTH – It’s good for your brain!
Men are notoriously bad at taking care of their health. Awareness events like men’s heath week is so important to highlight the need for men in particular to take more responsibility.
Taking care of our physical health has positive benefits for our emotional health. There’s a ton of research that links physical activity and nutrition to the areas of the brain responsible for emotional wellbeing.
This mind/body connection helps us to understand how the endorphins created during physical exercise surge through our body and increases brain chemicals that affect our mood.
RECREATION – Take leisure seriously
Recreational activities play a big part in managing stress.
Often, busy men allow leisure time to get squeezed out to make room for domestic or work related responsibilities.
Leisure activities that allow us to be playful, creative and fun make us feel good and need to be a priority.
COME TO YOUR SENSES – Are you paying attention?
Paying attention to smell, sound, taste, touch and sight in our environment and daily life sets off those all important feel good brain chemicals.
How do you feel when you drive out of the city along the coast or through a forest?
Does your mood change when listening to the sound of the sea?
Most people instantly relax and feel a little better. It’s too easy to be disconnected from our 5 senses.
REFLECT – Build a pause
Make the time to build in a pause (check this previous post). Find gratitude for what you have in your life.
Have some quiet time for yourself.
Pausing once in a while allows our emotional brain to regulate.
CALM – Just breathe
How calm do you stay in the most stressful situations?
Being comfortable in dealing with anything that life brings requires us to regulate our feelings. It’s a great skill.
Learning to be aware of our breathing is a skill that requires regular attention.
RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION – Increasing Connection
Satisfying and meaningful relationships helps us to feel connected.
Caring for and being loved by partners, friends, kids and family and work colleagues helps us create good emotional health and feel good about ourselves?