How Your Feelings Affect Mental Health

How Your Feelings Affect Mental Health

written by: Irving Schattner
by: Irving Schattner
Can feelings affect your mental health Can feelings affect your mental health

Your emotional health plays a large role in your ability to deal with life problems and stress. You can establish good emotional health by first identifying what it is you are feeling. This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people have difficulty honing in on exactly what they are feeling at a particular moment. Other people find themselves able to identify what it is they are feeling, yet are unable to manage their feeling to the extent they don't feel overcome, or flooded, by their emotions.

Good emotional health requires that you allow yourself to be present at the moment, identify what it is you are feeling, and not get stuck or flooded in the feeling. Thus, while your feelings can appear quite real and strong, it is worth considering whether your feelings are based on reality, or personal beliefs or experiences. Put another way, you can examine whether your experience of feeling certain things (sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, fear) is based on fact or your own subjective lens. How you approach this task will, in large part, determine your relationship with feelings.

Learn to control your feelings

To take an example, imagine a person struggling with feeling depressed. This feeling can be so debilitating that sufferers feel as if they are drowning in their feelings. Associated feelings of resignation, helplessness, and hopelessness are not too uncommon. Persons suffering from depression may come to identify themselves through their depression, rather than viewing themselves as multi-faceted human beings who have possessed strengths and abilities while also struggling with depression. This is an important distinction which often gets lost. By looking at feelings as representations of thoughts and actions, rather than some external, uncontrollable force from which there is no escape, we are then able to apply a more scientific and objective approach to our relationship with the feelings created and stored inside ourselves.

Many depression sufferers are stuck, or entrenched, in their depression to the extent that they are no longer able to separate feeling depressed from "becoming their depression." In separating the feeling of depression as just that –one feeling on a continuum of many possible, self-generated feelings (generated through our thoughts and actions) – from "being in the state of depression," we allow ourselves to feel what we feel without "becoming that which we feel." We can now change our relationship to our feelings (and not allow ourselves to become flooded by certain distressing or debilitating emotions) by changing the way we choose to think about and act in relation to such feelings. This takes the "sting" out of the emotion and places it into a range of choices. Thus, we can identify the feeling, acknowledge it, and let it pass on through rather than allowing ourselves to be immersed in or controlled by that feeling.