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How Can I Stay Emotionally Healthy?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to write about emotional needs – the needs that we HAVE to find ways to get met, if we are to remain emotionally healthy.  So, how can I stay emotionally healthy in this increasingly complex and uncertain world?

Our lives are busier than ever and our obligations are more extensive and overwhelming. The way that most of us deal with this “modern” life is to try to keep up, to keep juggling all our plates in the air at the same time. There is a general acceptance that feeling stressed is normal, it’s how we should be, because of external factors like our work schedules, our endless to-do lists, our juggling family and relationship needs with our own needs.

Our physical needs

As animals we are born into a material world where we need air to breathe, water, nutritious food and sufficient sleep. These are the paramount physical needs. Without them, we quickly die. In addition we also need the freedom to stimulate our senses and exercise our muscles. We instinctively seek sufficient and secure shelter where we can grow and reproduce ourselves and bring up our young.

Our emotional needs

But do we realise that we have emotional needs that HAVE to be met in balance if we are to remain emotionally healthy? Over the past hundred years or more, people have suggested what these emotional needs are, but there is general consensus today that the following are particularly important:

  1. Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully
  2. Attention (to give and receive it)
  3. Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  4. Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
  5. Feeling part of a wider community
  6. Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  7. An emotional connection to others
  8. Sense of status within social groupings
  9. Sense of competence and achievement
  10. Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think.
The Human Givens approach to emotional health

As a psychotherapist trained in the Human Givens approach to counselling, the backbone to the work I do with clients is helping them to find ways to get their needs met in a healthy balanced way. For each individual, this will mean something different – and at every stage of our lives, we may need to adjust and “tweak” how we are functioning. In later blogs I’ll look at examples from each stage of life.

But back to the basic idea behind emotional needs and I’m quoting a piece from the Human Givens website:

Emotions create distinctive psychobiological states in us and drive us to take action. The emotional needs nature has programmed us with are there to connect us to the external world, particularly to other people, and survive in it. They seek their fulfilment through the way we interact with the environment. Consequently, when these needs are not met in the world, nature ensures we suffer considerable distress — anxiety, anger, depression etc. — and our expression of distress, in whatever form it takes, impacts on those around us.

People whose emotional needs are met in a balanced way do not suffer mental health problems. In short, it is by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we survive and develop as individuals and a species.

Need some advice and support?

If you would like to discuss any of the  issues raised in this article further, or perhaps look at ways that you can start to get your own emotional needs met in a balanced way, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.


Book a counselling session today!