We spend a lot of time worrying about our physical health, but we sometimes neglect our mind in the process. To maintain good mental health, you can practise “emotional hygiene” in the same way you practise good bodily hygiene to help maintain physical health. In this TED Talk, psychologist Guy Winch describes a different type of injury: psychological injury. Instead of being the result of twists, breaks and sprains, these types “injuries” come from mental traumas caused by failure, rejection and especially chronic loneliness. As Winch explains, loneliness and other psychological injuries can be harmful to your physical health; possibly causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even suppressing the function of your immune system. So what can you do to battle the negative effects of psychological traumas? Imagine these injuries as wounds just like any other, and that they require the practice of good hygiene for it to heal. Stop and take notice when you feel emotional pain and recognise that you are hurt so you can address it. Stop the “emotional bleeding” by avoiding negative thoughts so you can clean it up. It also never hurts to reach out to someone else when the wound is too deep. And, when you’re not hurt, build up your self-esteem to develop some protection for the future. Don’t leave these types of injuries untreated, because they will just keep getting worse, just like the real thing.
Guy Winch: The case for emotional hygiene [YouTube]
This article first appeared Lifehacker, 25 February 2015.