Source: Federal Occupational Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Emotional well-being encompasses how you feel about yourself, your ability to successfully manage your feelings as you deal with life’s challenges, and the quality of your relationships. Being emotionally balanced can be a strong contributor to your overall mental and physical health.

Signs of Emotional Health

Being emotionally healthy is more than simply being free from depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues; it also refers to having positive characteristics, including:

  • Resiliency in the face of difficulties
  • The ability to adapt to change
  • A sense of purpose
  • A feeling of completeness and contentment
  • The ability to create fulfilling relationships
  • A feeling of self-confidence and positive self-esteem
  • The ability to have fun and enjoy yourself

Impact on Physical Health

Your emotional state can often cause a significant physical response (as demonstrated by the “fight or flight” response that is triggered by a perceived threat). Where you are at emotionally can also have a significant impact on your overall physical health. This phenomenon—sometimes called the “mind/body connection”—can be particularly acute when you are anxious or upset. Experiencing extreme stress over a period of time, for example, might trigger a physical response—or cascade of responses—that could lead to the development of high blood pressure or stomach problems, for example.

While the following symptoms can indicate the presence of other serious illnesses (and as such should be discussed with your health care provider), they can also be signs that your emotional health is out of balance:

  • Back pain
  • Change in appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations
  • Sexual problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Sweating
  • Weight change

When to Seek Professional Help

If you continue to suffer from the effects of emotional distress and feel overwhelmed by it, you should contact a professional. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
  • Problems with your ability to concentrate that are interfering with your work or home life
  • Using alcohol, drugs, food, or tobacco to cope with difficult emotions
  • Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control
  • Thoughts of death or suicide*

* Having self-destructive behavior or thoughts, especially suicidal ones, is a symptom that needs immediate attention. If you experience such feelings and feel that you need help, call your EAP (see information to the right) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s toll-free number, which is available 24 hours every day of the year: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This service is available to everyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

Everyone is different; not all things for emotional balance will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people may enjoy relaxing and slowing down, while others need more activity and stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you relief.

Some people may need someone qualified to provide them with the necessary tools and guide them in the right direction, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional, when you need to.

For more information, please visit www.foh.hhs.gov.