We take care of our diet, we take care of our health, we practice sports and nevertheless, most of us neglect a basic and priority aspect: emotional hygiene. Addressing our psychological injuries, those that we can suffer on a daily basis, as well as knowing how to prevent them, protecting ourselves from certain things, will make it easier for us to enjoy an authentic quality of life.
This term, mental hygiene, was “created” by the Dalai Lama in 2016 at a conference he gave in India. According to the religious leader, the lack of this dimension leads the human being to discomfort and misbehaviors. Thus, beyond limiting ourselves to learning a standard of physical and even financial hygiene, it is necessary that we develop habits based on trust, love and respect.
Dalai Lama emphasized the idea of taking on emotional challenges. To foster understanding and nurture important realities such as empathy. Now, after this speech, psychologists from all over the world took an interest in this term from a more clinical perspective.
Thus, figures such as the psychologist Guy Winch, a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), have established more complete information and documentation in this regard. In fact, today we understand emotional hygiene as part of our own mental hygiene. They are measures for the prevention of the disease that we should all carry out.
“Change your attention and you will change your emotions. Change your emotion and your attention will change place.”
Emotional hygiene, the 4 steps to carry it out
One of the current challenges within the psychology of health is prevention. We have spent many years applying a care strategy but not preventive. That is, a person seeks professional help when he perceives that he can not manage his day to day with the solvency of before.
However, to this day we still do not have adequate mechanisms to prevent such important dimensions as depression, anxiety disorders, stress and even suicide. Therefore, we need to reach the population in different ways to facilitate strategies with which to deal better with day-to-day problems, with challenges, discomforts, etc.
Martin Seligman himself also tried in his day. This famous psychologist, known above all for his studies on depression and for introducing the term of learned helplessness, decided at one point to turn his career. He decided to lay the foundations of positive psychology in order to offer skills to the population to invest in welfare and happiness.
Emotional hygiene would therefore enter into this same perspective: offer adequate measures to train us in psychological health, in prevention, in the responsible exercise of emotional well-being. Let’s see 4 strategies.
1. Deal with the pain
If biologically we feel pain it is for a reason. Our organism alerts us to an alteration, an imbalance, an infection or damage to attend to. On many occasions, our own body sends us signals, stating that our immune system is being overcome. In other cases, we need medical help.
With emotional pain the same thing happens. It is not worth leaving for tomorrow the concern we have today. It is useless to hide, make up, deny, take a drug to alleviate this suffering. Emotional problems require active responses, they need courageous measures and strategies to repair that daily damage.
2. Stop emotional bleeding
What do we understand by emotional bleeding? Just an example to understand the symbolism of this expression. Imagine that we have a friendship or even a couple that lies to us. We are aware of his disaffection, of his lack of reciprocity on a day-to-day basis. However, we refuse to accept it because we are afraid to get rid of that significant figure for us.
Now, not taking the step means bleeding. It implies that the wound gets bigger every day and every moment. We bleed but try to plug the injury with “this is temporary”, “it sure changes”.
Emotional hygiene requires taking preventive measures, and the sooner we carry them out, the sooner we will heal the wounds. Therefore, if we are aware that there is damage and we are being hurt, it is best to react.
3. The muscle of self-esteem
The muscle of self-esteem is the organ that pumps everything. It is the one that gives us courage and courage when what surrounds us tunes and takes away our calm. It is that vital impulse that reminds us of what we deserve and that alerts us to what we need.
Also, as they reveal in studies like the one published by Dr. Kristin D. Neff, in the journal Social and Personality Psychology Compass, self-esteem and knowing how to treat us with respect are key to guaranteeing our well-being.
One way to win emotional hygiene is to take care of this psychological tendon that is behind a good part of balance. Neglecting it, often leads us to problematic states.
4. Caring for your thoughts is to gain health
Our thinking can rise as the worst enemy. Falling into those exhausting cycles inhabited by obsession, negativity, anguish and fear, veto our happiness completely. Moreover, they often lead us to the drift of many psychological disorders.
Therefore, to pay attention to the quality of thought is to invest in quality of life. Knowing how to use a more flexible, relaxed, positive but realistic approach at all times can help us act more successfully.
Also, we must be clear that it is not easy to change the course of those thoughts accustomed to always follow the same direction. In most cases, we will need help. It will be a priority to have that psychological and specialized support with which to resume a more adjusted course where we always have control.