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Mind Matters, Heart Matters: Emotional Health vs Mental Health

Emotional and mental health are both necessary for a fulfilling and satisfying life. If you want to achieve emotional wellness, you must take care of your mental health. The reverse is also true. Taking care of your mental health helps you nourish your emotional well-being.

Though emotional health vs mental health sounds interchangeable, the truth is not so simple. The 2023 Stress in America Survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 37% of adults said they have a diagnosed mental health condition. A previous run of the same survey revealed a lower figure of 32%. We can thus conclude that the number of mental health sufferers is growing. 

In most societies, including ours, this issue is caused by a lack of access to adequate mental healthcare and insufficient awareness about how to cultivate mental wellness.

When you are aware of your mental and emotional health, you can take better care of your mental wellness. This form of self-care allows you to productively use your mind while improving your sense of fulfillment and contentment. 

This article has been written to demonstrate why mental health is important. We also equip you with the tools you need to care for your emotional and mental well-being.

Mental Health Definition

Mental health is a broad term. It refers to our overall psychological, emotional, and social wellness. It’s hard to define but easy to affect. Many things play a role in determining our mental health: our physical condition, activity levels, social circle, work-life balance, and many more. These factors impact our mental health, which in turn, impacts how we react to them, creating a feedback loop of sorts. Mental health is crucial in establishing our ability to deal with stress and external stimuli.

Since we’ve tried to define what mental health is, let’s also clearly state what it is not. Mental health should not be confused with mental illness. While the state of somebody’s mental health is nebulous and can change from day to day, mental illness is defined as ailments that can be reliably and comprehensively diagnosed by a physician. Mental health is a constantly shifting attribute while mental illnesses are more permanent conditions. Of course, living with a mental illness (or any chronic disability, even physical) can have a massive impact on the state of a person’s mental health.

Emotional Health Definition

From the description above, it seems like mental health is the same as emotional health. But there are important differences between them. Mental health is the filter through which we perceive our environment. For example, most people would consider a sunset beautiful but an individual with nyctophobia (fear of the dark) could see it as terrifying. These two perspectives of the same sunset are borne out of their beholders’ mental health.

Meanwhile, emotional health doesn’t consider how we perceive the environment, but only how that perception makes us feel. It is the ability to acknowledge, accept, and process emotions in a healthy way, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy individuals cultivate an awareness of their own emotions as well as those of people around them. To return to the earlier sunset example, an emotionally healthy response would recognize that nyctophobia is irrational and would resist giving in to fear.

Are Mental Health and Emotional Health Mutually Exclusive?

If you feel like there is a lot of overlap between mental health and emotional health, that’s because emotional health is an aspect of mental health. The former provides a solid foundation for the latter to develop. It’s absolutely necessary to focus on emotional health when trying to improve your mental health. After all, feelings predate thoughts in the conscious mind, and emotional health begets mental health. They are so intertwined that there is no way to focus on one without also paying attention to the other. While emotional health and mental health might have some differences, they are definitely not mutually exclusive.

How To Promote Your Mental and Emotional Health 

Caring for your mental and emotional well-being comes naturally to most people. The majority of us are aware of what activities lead to happiness and productivity, and which behaviors will have negative outcomes. But we are also conditioned to ignore our inner voices and follow paths of action that harm our mental and emotional health. Think of the last time you agreed to take on an extra workload at the office for whatever reason, despite knowing it would lead to long working hours in your future.

Apart from neglecting our self-care, many are unable to protect their emotional and mental health because of a sheer lack of access to resources. Data from the State of Mental Health in America 2023 report, compiled by the non-profit Mental Health America, paints a stark picture. There is only one mental health provider for every 350 citizens in the US, and 28% of adults with a mental illness were unable to receive the treatments needed for their condition.

In such an environment, it’s important to focus on promoting mental and emotional health independently.

Warning Signs of Declining Mental and Emotional Health

If you suffer from poor mental and emotional health, it’s often a precursor to other more serious health conditions. High blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes have all been linked to poor mental health. Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression can also be triggered in the same way. Some urgent warning signs to look for are:

  • Difficulty sleeping for multiple nights
  • Abnormal swings in appetite, leading to drastic weight loss or gain
  • Inability to concentrate or complete routine tasks
  • Loss of motivation and interest in hobbies and socializing

These warning signs should not be ignored, especially since there are many ways to treat them through simple adjustments in your daily habits.

Develop Your Mental Health

Consistent routines can make a huge difference in your mental health over time. These are the practices that improve your mental health:

  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins that boost your mood.
  • Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet: Staying hydrated and eating the right amount of nutrients raises your energy levels.
  • Learn To Say “No”: Manage your responsibilities by setting boundaries that safeguard your mental health.
  • Practice Relaxation: Activities like meditation, yoga, and cycling can help calm your mind when it is overactive.
  • Express Gratitude: Giving thanks for things that go right helps you focus on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Develop Your Emotional Health

Similar to mental health, emotional health is also built over time and can be achieved when you do the following:

  • Build Resilience: Find healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions.
  • Eliminate Stress: Reduce the amount of negative emotions by cutting out stressors.
  • Fix Your Sleep Schedule: Let your body’s natural clock reset to wake up feeling happy.
  • Strengthen Social Bonds: Having a support network of family and friends can help lift you out of a negative mindset.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Pay attention to your feelings so that you can control them instead of them controlling you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five Americans lives with mental illness. This knowledge can be invaluable in improving their quality of life.

Mental Health + Emotional Health = A Clear Mind 

The journey to emotional and mental health is a long one. Luckily, you can use the services of a virtual guide. The Mental Power app helps refine the habits and behaviors that contribute to your well-being on the mental and emotional fronts. Experience the change firsthand when you download the app and embark on your quest for wellness.