Emotional Hygiene?

Physical hygiene, check.  Mental hygiene, check.  But emotional hygiene?  Most people know to exercise, eat healthy, and learn new stuffs to improve our physical and mental well-being.  But when it comes to emotional well-being, we draw a blank.

Emotional hygiene is about our psychological health and daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds  according to Guy Winch, psychologist (TedTalk here and article).

First, a word about the psychological wounds. Unlike physical wounds which are visible and easier to treat, psychological wounds mess with our perception and scramble our thinking.  They include rejection, guilt, and loneliness that cause pains, thus harder to detect and more dangerous.

Second, instead of taking care of the psychological wounds , we tend to make the situation worse by brooding, self doubt and criticism. Odd isn’t it?  Because we don’t practice emotional hygiene – taking appropriate action to battle the negative thought and to affirm our self esteem promptly.

Here are some tips from Dr. Winch:

  • Disrupt the cycle of negative thoughts by engaging in an absorbing activity for 2-3 minutes (such as a crossword puzzle, Candy Crush, Scrabble, or a memory task like recalling your favorite songs).
  • Self affirmation/ compassion – be kind to self, listen for feelings, and write down the feelings in a letter (to self).  Benefits of such actions include distancing ourselves from the wounds, clarifying and facilitating discovery of alternative or insights.

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