While emotional health and mental health have been used interchangeably, they do not imply the same thing. Licensed psychologist, Juli Fraga PsyD, says emotional health “focuses on being in tune with our emotions, vulnerability and authenticity.” A good emotional health fosters resilience, self-awareness and overall contentment.

While maintaining your emotional health in Nigeria can seem like an impossible task, it is achievable. It does not mean that you are constantly happy or free from negative emotions, as the environment will always have its challenges. However, it is about having the emotional intelligent skills and resources to manage the ups and downs that come with living in Nigeria.

Here are four steps to building a good emotional health in Nigeria:

Notice upsetting emotions when they arise

Taking note of when your emotions start to become disconcerting helps us to process them in healthy ways. For example, when hurt or angered by someone, instead of avoiding and letting it brew for so long, noticing and putting a tag on the emotions birthed from that experience will help you to either compassionately confront the person or set some healthy boundaries with that person. The opposite of that is lashing out at them, which will only further escalate the conflict.

Be curious about how you feel.

Maintaining a good emotional health in Nigeria seems difficult because there is not enough advocacy to be curious about your thoughts and feelings. Emotional health flourishes when you are curious about your thoughts, behaviours, reactions and feelings, and why they might arise at certain times.

It is important to ask yourself, “Why do I react this way?” or “What is it about my past that might lead me to have a strong reaction to a, b and c?”

Practice regularising your emotions

Emotions have the power to get the best of us, with every corner laced with potential off setters. However, learning coping strategies can help us temper them and cause us to respond rather than react to upsetting situations.

These strategies include

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Listening to music.
  • Talking to a therapist.

Do not compromise on quality sleep.

The lack of quality sleep has been a major contributing factor to poor emotional health in Nigeria. Sacrificing sleep makes one more vulnerable to stress and anxiety. A 2018 study found that being sleep-deprived leads to more repetitive negative thoughts. Being overly tired can make you more emotionally reactive, which can negatively affect your outlook, performance and relationships. Having a consistent sleeping and waking up time can make all the difference between reactive and responsive behaviours.

Good emotional health is crucial to your overall well-being. If you have noticed your thoughts and emotions negatively affecting your performance, relationships and outlook to life, taking care of your core needs – like sleeping, talking about those feelings, and meditation – can significantly improve your emotional health.