‘Scientists have evidence to prove that basic human nature is compassionate. They have also found the opposite, that constant anger and hatred weaken our immune system. Therefore, just as we teach people physical hygiene to help preserve their physical health, for a happy and peaceful mind, we need to teach people about emotional hygiene— how to tackle their destructive emotions.’ Dalai Lama
How do we maintain a “clean and healthy” mind? We can’t brush it like our teeth or wash it with soap like our body. However, our minds, like our teeth and bodies, are susceptible to emotional clutter. If we don’t practice emotional hygiene on a regular basis, this can bog us down and prevent us from living our best lives.
What is emotional hygiene?
“Being attentive of our psychological health and developing brief daily habits to check and address psychological wounds when we sustain them” is what motional hygiene is all about (Guy Winch, Ph.D., Psychology Today). Many of us don’t know how to do it. In his TED Talk, Dr. Guy Winch stated that we place a higher value on our physical health than our mental health.
When we develop a wound, for example, we are taught that we must sterilize and treat it in order for it to recover. Nobody is going to poke or cut the wound any farther! When confronted with an emotional wound, such as a failure, many of us wallow in self-pity or repeatedly blame ourselves for failing, making ourselves feel even worse.
We don’t realize that leaving an emotional wound untreated lowers our self-esteem. When this happens, we frequently find ourselves in the same predicament. It can lead to a worse state of mind (depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.) and greater harm to ourselves.
Other psychological wounds we may experience, aside from failure, include trauma (death of a loved one, abuse or violence, serious accident, etc. ), rejection (social or professional), abandonment, and solitude. In the process of our settlement and integration as newcomers, we will encounter various emotional wounds.
The strain might emerge psychologically (stress, worry, and sadness) as well as physiologically (abdominal pain) (headaches, hypertension and other diseases). Experts discovered that chronic loneliness, which leads to emotional and social isolation, raises the risk of dying young by 14%.
This is why emotional hygiene is so important; when we correctly address psychological wounds and focus on building emotional resilience on a regular basis, our quality of life improves.
How to Practice Emotional Hygiene to ‘Clean Your Mind’
Learn to Recognize Emotional Pain
When you’re not feeling well emotionally, pay attention. Don’t ignore it and let it fester; dealing with it afterwards will be more difficult. Take action when you’re lonely, for example.
Examine your reasons for feeling this way. Isolated? Make an effort to speak with a friend. Heartbroken? Make contact with someone who might be able to help you. Or are you simply depressed because you need more light? SAD, sometimes known as the winter blues, can strike at any time during the year. It’s possible that you’ll need to see a doctor.
Pay attention to whatever is causing the pain. Assess the situation and do whatever you can to alleviate it as quickly as possible. If you can’t figure it out or don’t have the energy or resources to alleviate your pain, seek assistance. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a counselor, advisor, or doctor.
Be Kinder to Yourself
This can be difficult. When anything goes wrong, many of us are conditioned to blame ourselves. We convince ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, or haven’t put in enough effort. It’s all too easy for us to acquire a severe sort of self-criticism that, rather than helping us, undermines our self-esteem. It is critical for our survival to have a good sense of self-worth. Self-compassion can help you maintain your self-esteem. Here are some ideas for how to go about it:
- Relax. Take a sip of tea. Take a few deep breaths (meditate if you can).
Recognize that you cannot be held responsible for everything. Any issue is complicated by a number of things.
Don’t measure yourself against others.
Recognize that while the situation may be difficult now, things will improve.
Consider the circumstance as a learning opportunity.
This is crucial: being patient with oneself does not imply that you are blameless or that you are too magnificent to be experiencing difficulties. Assessing a scenario and identifying what we personally did wrong has significance, since it stops us from making the same error again. However, you need to be objective. Accept responsibility for your error, pledge to do better in the future, and move on. Beating yourself up or being overly harsh with yourself has no merit. You will not become a better person as a result of it.
Don’t Keep Ruminating on Bad Experiences
Ruminating is the act of mentally reliving a negative experience. This is something that many of us do, and it quickly becomes a habit. This is terrible for us because it causes our minds to get cluttered. By repeating this process, we train our thoughts to focus solely on the negative – on things we can’t control or change.
When you notice yourself starting to ruminate, divert your attention away from it until the impulse to do so passes. Concentrate on anything else, such as a puzzle, a walk, or some physical activity. Distracting yourself for a few minutes can help you lessen negative focus.
Change the Way You React to Failure
Dwelling on failure demotivates you because it makes you feel helpless and inept. When you’ve failed, try to concentrate on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Making a list of the lessons you learned and the things you would do differently if given the same opportunity again may be beneficial. Make a plan, create new goals, and get ready. Repeat the process as necessary. Persistence pays off in the lives of many successful people, as we’ve seen.
These steps require a shift in perspective in order to begin developing healthy mental habits. It won’t be easy. But, like with anything worthwhile, it will necessitate effort and discipline. Make an effort to practice emotional hygiene on a regular basis. In the end, having a clean, healthy, and resilient mind will be very beneficial, to both your mind and body!