We take care of our diet, our health, we play sports and, however, most of us neglect a fundamental and priority aspect: emotional hygiene. Yet, treating psychological wounds, the ones we can suffer on a daily basis, as well as preventing them by protecting us from certain events, improves our life.
The term “emotional hygiene” was coined by the Dalai Lama in 2016 during a conference held in India. According to the religious leader, the lack of this dimension leads the human being to feel discomfort and to adopt incorrect behavior. In addition to learning a standard of physical and even financial hygiene, we need to develop habits based on trust, love and respect.
The Dalai Lama stressed the importance of facing emotional challenges, promoting understanding and cultivating important emotions such as empathy. After his speech, psychologists around the world have been interested in this term from a more clinical perspective.
Figures such as Guy Winch, a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), have provided more complete information and documentation in this regard. So much so that today emotional hygiene is understood as part of mental hygiene and includes several measures aimed at the prevention of mental illnesses that everyone should implement.
4 steps to respect emotional hygiene
One of the current challenges in health psychology is prevention. We have spent many years applying a non-preventive health strategy; in other words, professional help is sought when it is perceived that it is no longer possible to manage daily life with the same solvency.
However, today we do not yet have the proper tools to prevent serious mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, stress and even suicide. It is therefore necessary to reach people in different ways to facilitate strategies aimed at better facing daily problems, challenges, inconveniences, etc.
Martin Seligman also tried it. This famous psychologist, best known for his studies on depression and for introducing the term learned helplessness, at one point decided to reverse his career by laying the foundations of positive psychology. The aim was to offer the population skills to invest in well-being and happiness.
Emotional hygiene would therefore fall into this same perspective: offering adequate measures to train us in mental health, prevention, responsible exercise of emotional well-being. Let’s see 4 strategies to do this.
1. Take care of the pain
If we experience pain biologically, it is for a specific reason. Our body warns us of an alteration, imbalance, infection or damage to watch out for. On many occasions, our body sends us signals, warning us that the immune system is saturated. In other cases, we need medical assistance.
The same happens with emotional pain: it is not worth postponing today’s worry until tomorrow. It is useless to hide, deny, take drugs to calm the suffering. Emotional problems require active responses and need bold measures and strategies to heal.
2. Stop bleeding emotionally
What do we mean by emotional bleeding? An example is sufficient to understand the symbolism of this expression. Let’s imagine we have a friend or even a partner who lies to us. We are aware of his disaffection, of his disrespect on a daily basis. However, we refuse to accept it because we are afraid of letting go of that person who is so important to us.
Not taking this step means bleeding out. It implies that the wound gets bigger every day and every moment. We continue to bleed and try to cover the lesion with phrases like: “it’s just a period”, “it will surely change”.
Emotional hygiene requires taking preventive measures. The sooner they are performed, the sooner we will be able to heal the wounds. If we are aware of some painful wounds, it is best to react.
3. Train the self-esteem muscle for successful emotional hygiene
The self-esteem muscle is the organ that pumps everything. What gives us courage when our emotions block us and make us lose our temper. It is that vital impulse that reminds us of what we deserve and that alerts us of what we need.
Similarly, we must be clear that it is not easy to change the course of thoughts used to always follow the same direction. In most cases, we will need help. It will be a priority to enjoy specialized psychological support thanks to which to regain control.
Emotional hygiene should be part of any daily scenario. We need it at work, in personal relationships, and children in schools need it too. It is a form of prevention, it is that daily cleaning with which to avoid the germs of suffering and infections that lead to unhappiness.