Updated: Nov 11, 2019
You probably already know that exercise and a healthy diet are good for you, but how often do you focus on your emotional well-being?
I’d actually argue that the emotional side is just as, if not more, important as your physical health. After all, emotional and mental health issues often trigger physical issues.
I know mental health isn’t something we want to talk about, but screw that! There’s nothing wrong with doing everything you can to be healthy emotionally, even if it means admitting you need help.
A Look Inside Mental Health Issues
As of 2017, 46.6 million adults in America were living with some form of mental illness. Of course, this only covers those who are seeking treatment or responded honestly on health surveys. This also doesn’t include temporary illnesses, such as grief and depression that comes after losing a loved one (though sometimes this develops into a long-term condition).
When you break it down by ethnicity, it’s easy to see that mental illness isn’t biased. Sadly, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest percentage at 28.3%. Over 18% of black adults currently live with a mental health condition. Once again, these are just the percentages of people who report they have an issue.
Consequences Of Ignoring Your Emotional Well-Being
I wanted to focus on mental health because ignoring your emotional well-being can lead to severe mental illness conditions later on. For instance, if you rarely ever talk to someone when you’re having a problem, you could end up with severe depression and anxiety.
In a worst case scenario, some people even give up completely and commit suicide. As much as we focus on our physical health, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America and is on the rise. In 2016, there were twice as many suicides as homicides. We can’t keep letting this happen!
Please, if you are considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. It’s completely confidential. You’re meant to be here and we don’t want to lose you.
Your emotional health is important. At the very least, you’ll experience issues like:
· Lower self-esteem
· Decreased confidence
· Problems eating (too much or too little)
· Compensating with a vice (drugs, alcohol, eating, shopping, gambling, etc.)
· Pushing people away
It’s easier than you might think to take care of your emotional well-being, so don’t let any of this happen to you.
Admit You Need Help
As a black woman myself, I know how much of stigma there is around getting professional help, especially in my own community. Even just talking about your emotions or mental health must mean you’re crazy or weak. None of that is true. Every single person needs help sometimes.
Don’t feel ashamed that you need to talk to someone. Don’t be ashamed if you’re feeling down, scared, depressed or anything else.
The first step towards taking charge of your emotional well-being is to admit there’s an issue and you need help.
Talking It Out
Did you know that people don’t have anyone to confide in had the same level of physical decline as someone who’s overweight? So, you don’t just need exercise, but friends too.
Some call this the Talking Cure. Simply having someone to confide in helps you to feel better. Even if you don’t solve a problem, the weight’s not all on your shoulders anymore. Plus, you don’t feel all alone.
During my loss, I talked to my husband, family and friends. I even saw a therapist because I honestly didn’t know how to process my emotions during this terrible time. The more I talked, the better I felt. While it was a slow process, I couldn’t have done it on my own.
Take Care Of Your Emotions
I don’t care if you don’t trust people or you think it’s wrong to talk about things, put together a support group and talk to each other regularly. It could be a single friend you meet for drinks once a week or family members you can call anytime. If you don’t feel like you have anyone, seek out a professional. Counselors and therapists are trained to help you through your toughest times.
No matter what’s going on in your life, don’t keep it all locked up. Your emotional well-being matters just as much as your physical. Talk to others and let them talk to you. It’s the same as exercise, just for your emotions.
I’ve been there and I’m grateful for everyone who let me lean on them when I needed them and still do. It’s not weakness or anything to be ashamed of. You’re stronger for taking care of yourself.
Signed – The Unbothered Goddess, a woman who’s been where you are