Emotional health: Recharge your mind
health? Dr Sula Windgassen shares her tips on how to do just that.
There’s so much to gain from harnessing the power of emotional health and, to do this, you need to tune into your feelings. Health psychologist Dr Sula Windgassen joins Plantopia to explain how.
You’ll be familiar with the line 'a healthy body leads to a healthy brain'. And the reverse is also true: the healthier your brain, the better your physical health is likely to be. Dr Sula specialises in evidence-based psychological and biopsychosocial-informed therapies. This means she focuses on the interconnection between biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors.Dr Sula explores challenging and changing long-standing thought patterns that can improve your emotional health. “It often means confronting uncomfortable feelings", she says.
How do our emotions influence our emotional health and happiness?
"The way you process your emotions plays a key role here," says Dr Sula. "That’s because the part of the brain involved with regulating and processing emotions also communicates with other areas of the body through networks of nerve cells,” she explains.“Negative expectations can influence symptoms and conversely, we know that positive emotions can improve health and wellbeing."
Do we need to work on our emotions?
"In a word, yes", Dr Sula simply states. “Emotions can be overwhelming – especially when they’re nagging and negative”, says Dr Sula. If we don’t like how something makes us feel it’s our default to try to think our way out of it. “Despite the rhetoric around the power of positive thinking, a healthy mind is one that acknowledges emotions of every hue”, she explains.
“When we increase our familiarity with a range of emotions, including the difficult ones, we can positively impact our mood and gain more scope for control.”
How do we become more emotionally aware?
Start by growing your lexicon and increasing the number of emotions you can identify and name. “Use a Feelings Wheel,” recommends Dr Sula. “It offers a broad range of nuanced emotions beyond the basics” such as 'angry', 'sad', or 'happy'. “Noting physical sensations, such as tension, will also provide emotional insight,” she says.
What else can we do to help our emotional health?
Use your senses. "Tapping into our senses – not least our sense of smell – has a powerful effect on our emotions”, she says. “Scents feed straight into the limbic system – the part of the brain involved in emotional and behavioural responses."
"We all know how aromas such as wood-smoke, sunscreen, and cut grass can evoke powerful memories that can quickly flip our mood. Deliberately pick out scents that you know will have an impact."
Using aromatic ginseng and lemongrass from Plantopia’s Energise & Uplift range is designed to promote positivity while bringing focus and balance. Infused with aromatherapeutic lemongrass, a fresh, sharp lemon-like scent with a grassy undertone will get your senses tingling.
For a visual aid, try gazing at the horizon. Doing this has a direct impact on the
parasympathetic nervous system, restoring a sense of calm. This can help recharge your mind, too.
What is the effect of emotional awareness in our daily life?
Increasing your ability to be with your senses and to spot emotions helps ground you in the present. This helps you manage stress and effectively problem-solve, according to Dr Sula. Having greater self-awareness also frees you to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. "Self-compassion is not self-indulgence," Dr Sula reminds us. "It’s essential for your
wellbeing.” Visit Plantopia’s Energise & Uplift range, here.