Thursday, December 17, 2009

Emotional Hygiene--Check Yourself

Creativity is one of those higher order skills that really works best when we are at our best. Part of that process is staying on top of our emotional hygiene. First, I think we need to take the stigma out of the discussion of emotions. There is nothing wrong with feeling angry, sad, and disappointed sometimes. However, if we do not handle these emotions effectively, we end up alienating people or constantly feeling like crap.

We all have our own styles for dealing with emotions. For me, after a long day at work, I need at least half an hour to "decompress", usually by playing a computer game, reading blogs, or (when I am being emotionally unhygienetic) drowing myself in chocolate. Some of our habits as related to emotions are good and some not so good. Being aware of what we do in response to our emotions is the first step towards good emotional hygiene.

As with physical hygiene, emotional hygiene skills fall on a continuum with some people being impeccable, and some people being an absolute mess. People with impeccable emotional hygiene often come across as relaxed, joyful, and able to handle stress with cool calm. People who are a mess on this continuum often meet criteria for a serious mental illness. Most of us, just like the bell curve, probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

Improving emotional hygiene can only improve one's quality of life. I am going to do a series of posts on what I am doing to improve my emotional hygiene. I would love to here what you do!