What don’t you have if you’re struggling with anxiety? Emotional health. Not the most earth-shattering statement but pertinent, all the same. Do you really know what’s missing, though? I’m not always sure. Even when I think of a definition it changes, develops as I go through the bump and grind of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, alters everytime a PTSD trigger whacks me across the head with a 2×4.
It may even be that you’ve been anxious so long the concept of emotional health seems pie in the sky.I get the sense that’s pretty common, normal even; When anxiety is part of your life, you censor yourself (deliberately or not), tailoring your definition of health and what it is for you in particular to be healthy accordingly.
What Is Emotional Health?
- Do I have it? Do I not have it?
- Do I have some aspects more than others?
- Do I value some aspects more than others?
How we define emotional health says a lot about our aims, where we are, what we think we deserve, how much anxiety intrudes on our lives, consciously and unconsciously. Maybe it’s around some of the time, up this week, down the next. In any event it’s probably something you hope to have more of through therapy, and treating anxiety.
Sometimes Treating Anxiety Isn’t Enough
Whatever you definition of emotional health, it should not include treating anxiety in isolation.
Any number of hurdles will need jumping before you can give your emotional health the attention it deserves, not the least of which is the tendency to minimize or dismiss that side of life. In dealing with my anxiety I’ve had to pull myself out of the frame of mind that says treating the anxiety is all I need do. Because it isn’t always the best plan to latch onto, say, a diagnosis or treatment path on the assumption that making progress in that specific area is enough.
When I think about emotional health I think of a well-rounded social and individual being. What that looks like is up to you, but at the end of the day I don’t just want to have fewer symptoms of an anxiety disorder. I want to be an emotionally wiser person; I want to know that I can handle the symptoms of anxiety if and when they return, and I want to know that from a position of relative strength. That means living an emotionally balanced life, one in which I’m not afraid to feel what I’m feeling, or trust my instincts.
Getting there is a whole other post but I’m sure you see my point.