Keeping Your Emotional Health

  • Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health

    What is good emotional health?

    People with good emotional health are in control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems in perspective.

    It's important to remember that people with good emotional health sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work or school can sometimes trigger mental illness or make it worse. However, people with good emotional health have learned ways to cope with stress and problems. They know when they need to seek help from their doctor or a counselor.

    What about anger?

    People are sometimes not aware of what causes their anger, how much anger they are holding inside or how to express anger. Certain events or actions by other people can make you angry. Also, many little things can build up to make you feel that life is unfair.

    If you find yourself becoming increasingly irritable or taking unhealthy risks (like drinking too much or abusing drugs), you may have a problem dealing with anger. It's very important to talk with your doctor or a counselor about getting help.

    What can I do to avoid problems?

    Tips on dealing with your emotions

    • Learn to express your feelings in appropriate ways.  It's important to let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside takes extra energy and can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
    • Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. But before you get carried away by your emotions and say or do something you might regret, consider the possible positive and negative consequences.
    • Strive for balance in your life. Don't obsess about problems at work, at school or at home. Focus on positive things in your life. Make time for things you enjoy.
    • Take care of your physical health.  Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep. Don't abuse drugs or alcohol.

    First, try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them. Learning how to sort out the causes of sadness, frustration and anger in your life can help you better manage your emotional health. The box to the right gives some other helpful tips.

    How does stress affect my emotions?

    Stress can come from situations such as personal or work problems, having too much to do or too many responsibilities, working too hard and being exhausted.

    Your body responds to stress by making stress hormones. These hormones help your body respond to situations of extreme need. But when your body makes too many of these hormones for a long period of time, the hormones wear down your body -- and your emotions. People under stress are often emotional, anxious, irritable and even depressed.

    If possible, try to change the situation that is causing your stress. Relaxation methods, such as deep breathing and meditation, and exercise are also useful ways to cope with stress.

    Can emotional problems be treated?

    Yes. Counseling, support groups and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.

    Other Organizations

    National Mental Health Association
    800-969-NMHA (800-969-6642)

    National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
    800-950-NAMI (800-950-6264)

    American Psychiatric Association
    888-35-PSYCH (888-357-7924)

    National Institute of Mental Health


    This information was obtained from: