Just as we encourage physical hygiene to preserve our health, we also need a sense of emotional or mental hygiene too. – Dalai Lama
A lot of us invest time worrying about our physical health while overlooking our mind in the process. Maintaining good mental health is as important as taking care of our body, and for that, we need to start practicing “emotional hygiene.”
Psychologist Guy Winch describes in his TED Talk what a psychological injury is. These injuries are the consequence of traumas caused by failure, rejection, and mainly by chronic loneliness. When we have a physical injury, it is relatively easy to notice, because it displays a set of symptoms that many times include pain or some kind of discomfort. Like twisting an ankle during a soccer game; you know what happened and what the consequence was, so you can go to the doctor and assess exactly what happened. The problem with emotional injuries is that you can live your entire life without realizing you have them, you could be full of open scars and not even know it. These can be harmful not only to your mental health, but also to your physical health; causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even suppressing the function of your immune system.
So what can we do to fight the adverse effects of psychological traumas? Well, the first thing is to pay attention to your emotional pain, the things you are struggling with, the ones that make you stressed or anxious… Dig deeper and find the roots. Second, stop the emotional bleeding, once you understand the causes and implications, treat it with the due care. And last but not least, you need to learn to battle negative thinking, stop re-living what happened and focus on what is next. Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction can stop the urge of reviving a past pain.
As humans, we are very complex and emotional beings, so taking care of our hearts and mind is very important. So know the ball is in your court, practice emotional hygiene as often as possible. And if some day the trail seems to big to handle on your own, don’t be ashamed nor scared to seek professional help. Just as you don’t tell a person with a broken leg to walk it off, no one should tell you to shake off emotional injuries that need to be treated and healed.