What Does Emotional Health Look Like?

Many of us go to physicians to assess our physical health.  Are there issues of disease present or are all systems in the body operating smoothly?  It’s often obvious when physical health-related issues arise as there are signs.  But what are the signs of compromised emotional health?  And what does “emotional health” really mean, anyway?

Happiness and an overall sense of peace are important aspects of emotional health – which can lead to success in many other areas of life. In the December 18th, 2005 issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., found that, “chronically happy people are in general more successful across many life domains than less happy people and their happiness is in large part a consequence of their positive emotions rather than vice versa.”

In my research, psychotherapy practice and life experience, I’ve noticed a number of shared elements of well-being.  Read the following general statement of emotional health.  It is non-scientific but will give you an idea of where you are and what areas might benefit from exploration in the future.

  • I care about and have respect for myself.
  • I make an effort to practice self-care when possible.
  • I have a good sense of how I’m feeling most of the time.
  • I have had no traumatic experiences that I’m aware of.
  • My emotional childhood needs were primarily met from my parents/caregivers.
  • I experienced trauma and/or unmet emotional needs but have or am currently doing some personal work around this.
  • I generally don’t lose control of my emotions in a way that is problematic.
  • I react to difficult situations in an expected way and generally bounce back well.
  • I have a sense of compassion for myself.
  • I am pretty good at forgiving myself and others.
  • I feel connected and in tune with my body.
  • I generally believe I will do well in life even if I hit a few speed-bumps.
  • I generally believe people can be trusted and are well meaning.
  • I generally don’t hold grudges against people.
  • I do the best I can to take care of my physical health.
  • If I have emotional wounds, I am aware of my vulnerabilities and have self-compassion around them.
  • I look towards the future with hopefulness.

If you’re considering therapy or doing deeper work on your own, this list can be a helpful guide.  For those going the self-help route, see my article, Emotional Health:  Preparing for Deeper Work.