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What is emotional hygiene?

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

We often feel like our emotions control our lives, and there's nothing we can do about them. Certainly, being able to feel a range of emotions is healthy, but sometimes they can just be so overwhelming we need some form of outlet. For a lot of people, this outlet is food. I can definitely say I've been there myself.

That's why setting up a regular habit to help reduce distressing emotions is so important, and can help us achieve our health goals.

"Emotional hygiene" sounds pretty strange when you first hear it. We tend to think of hygiene as washing our hands, keeping a clean kitchen and brushing our teeth regularly.

Let's look at dental hygiene and compare it to emotional hygiene. To keep our teeth healthy, we brush them twice a day, maybe we floss, and go to the dentist every 6 months (hopefully!). Having regular hygiene routines keep our teeth in tip top health. In the same way, having regular habits, systems or routines which help to stabilise our fluctuating emotions can help us reduce emotional eating and develop healthier eating patterns.

So, what counts as and emotional hygiene routine?

Well, it's something that you can do regularly, at least a few times per week but ideally something you can do daily. It might even be a combination of activities to suit your daily routines. You want to find activities that help you destress, just in a healthy way.

Being active is a great way to destress, but this might take up more time than you have available, or maybe you just don't have the energy levels for that right now. Doing a puzzle, painting, journaling, meditating, cooking or listening to music are all pretty good ways to help you destress, but they certainly aren't the only ways! Brainstorm some activities that you feel suit you and your lifestyle that might help you relax. You might not hit gold with your first activity, so it's good to have a couple of ideas to try out.

I'd warn you against things that are too stimulating. Watching TV, for example, is the go-to activity for a lot of people after a long day of work, however, this isn't ideal. It's more of a distraction than actually helping you to relax, and often our emotions can become stronger watching TV as we empathise with the struggles of the characters. Books can be similar in that way. I know I am definitely someone who takes on the emotions of the characters! Having something that helps you to connect with yourself and relax, process your emotions, can really help you manage your difficult emotions on a daily level. The aim is not to take away all your emotions (after all, you're still human!) but to help you manage those smaller stressors that feel like they can take over, like stress from work or the kids. Reducing these ongoing daily emotions means you are less likely to turn to food for comfort, and will be able to make healthy choices as you are feeling less frantic. So, time to get brainstorming! If you need help, we're here for you. Contact us today.

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