CMHA Mental Health Week

Good mental health isn’t about being happy all the time. In fact, a mentally healthy life includes the full range of human emotions—even the uncomfortable ones like sadness, fear and anger.

About the basics of emotions

• Emotional literacy is the ability to recognize how we feel, understand our feelings, label them and express them.

• When we are emotionally literate, we are better able to manage our emotions, or “regulate” them.

• Although we “feel” our emotions in the body and may recognize they are there, sometimes our emotions can be hard to put into words.

• An event can trigger emotions very quickly, automatically, and even unconsciously.

• Emotional events can trigger changes in our facial expressions, muscle tone, and voice tone, in our autonomic nervous system that regulates our heart and respiratory rate, digestion, perspiration, and in our endocrine system, which involves our hormones. About putting emotions into words

• Scientists call the act of putting feelings into words affect labelling.

• Saying “I feel sad” or writing about what’s upsetting me are both examples of affect labelling.

• When we put our feelings into words, we are actually constructing and making meaning of our emotions. Without words for emotions, our feelings might seem unclear to us.

• Affect labelling has been compared to the effect of hitting the brakes on when driving a car. When you put feelings into words, you are putting the brakes on your emotional responses. How affect labeling works

• When people put their feelings and thoughts about upsetting experiences into language, their physical and mental health often improve. Writing about our feelings can reduce physician visits and positively influence our immune function. Writing can also reduce cortisol (stress) levels and negative mood states.

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