Willow House at The Meadows logo

How Emotional Health Contributes to Relationship Health

November 2, 2020

By Anna McKenzie

Emotional health is key to having healthy relationships. Why? Because relationships that go beyond the superficial level depend on an emotional connection. If a person isn’t emotionally healthy, their ability to connect will be impaired, causing their relationships to flounder or become damaged.

What Does It Mean to Be Emotionally Healthy?

We can identify emotionally healthy people by their actions. It’s not what they feel, but how they deal with what they feel, that matters most. Here are some things that emotionally healthy people do:

  • They accept their emotions, then release them. Emotionally healthy people don’t fear, suppress, or resist their emotions. They embrace their emotions, which puts them back in the seat of control. They can then choose how to respond to certain situations instead of simply reacting. After they experience and process their emotions, they move on.
  • They develop emotional resilience. The various challenges we face in life can be extremely overwhelming. When we feel defeated or drained, we have the choice to either stay down or pick ourselves back up. Emotionally healthy people recognize that being down doesn’t mean being out. They choose to become more resilient and accept that life’s challenges are natural, not unusual. They pick themselves up and become stronger as a result.
  • They have techniques for managing stress in healthy ways. Emotionally healthy people understand that stress is part of life and must be dealt with as it comes. They use techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, journaling, listening to music, and exercise to help lower their stress levels. They recognize that not releasing stress or choosing to indulge in unhealthy habits will only make them feel worse in the long run.
  • They communicate their emotions in healthy ways. Emotionally healthy people know that relationships thrive on healthy communication, so they can express how they feel without blaming or attempting to manipulate others. They are open and honest while taking complete ownership of how they feel. They are not threatened by the emotions of others, meaning that they can listen carefully to someone else’s feelings and accept that person’s emotions without taking ownership of them or becoming offended.
  • They set healthy boundaries in relationships. Setting boundaries means being able to say, “this is mine, and that is yours,” when it comes to your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Emotionally healthy people do not try to make other people responsible for how they feel (or responsible to change how they feel). While they may be empathetic, they don’t take responsibility for resolving the emotional burdens of others. They are clear and communicative about their feelings, thoughts, possessions, and even personal space while being caring toward others. They know how and when to say “no,” and they consistently act on their values. According to Healthline, having healthy boundaries can boost your self-esteem, help you conserve emotional energy, and provide you with more independence and agency in your life.

Why Are Healthy Relationships So Important?

Woman talking to husbandThe quality of our relationships affect many other areas of our lives. Relationships can positively or negatively alter our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Healthy relationships can be rewarding, fulfilling, and energizing. They can empower our personal development and ability to serve others. On the other hand, unhealthy relationships can be draining, damaging, and harmful. They can make us regress into childish behaviors and become more needy.

For individuals in recovery, healthy relationships are key to maintaining sobriety. Supportive friends, family members, and peers in recovery can offer you strength to live a fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. Unhealthy relationships can drag anyone down, but people in recovery may be more susceptible to relapse and mental health issues when they have negative connections or experience neglect.

According to Healthy Place, here are a some key characteristics of healthy relationships:

  • Common goals
  • Empathy
  • Mutual trust
  • Honesty
  • Mutual respect
  • Commitment
  • A sense of boundaries, personal space
  • A focus on the positive (emotions, thoughts, behaviors, situations)
  • Communication
  • Emotional security
  • Humor, shared laughter
  • Affection
  • Compromise

Attending therapy, outpatient groups, and 12-Step groups can foster your ability to form healthy relationships and be a positive influence on your development as a person.

Improving Emotional and Mental Health for Better Relationships

You may be concerned about how your partner will react, but there are positive ways — and many good reasons — to communicate what you’ve been through.

Mental health issues can have a serious impact on relationships. They can make us volatile, unresponsive, fearful, or irrational. Loved ones don’t always know what’s wrong and may take things personally or respond poorly. Cycles of negativity can perpetuate or worsen mental health conditions.

Getting a diagnosis for a mental health condition, attending therapy, and getting supportive medication if necessary, can help you form and retain healthy relationships. Loved ones can also benefit from therapy, where they can express their own feelings and gain understanding about mental health conditions and what it means to be supportive. Mental health issues can have a strong tendency to damage or weaken relationships, but they don’t have to. With support for healing, you can learn how to manage your mental health symptoms in healthy ways and also have healthier relationships.

When it comes to romantic relationships, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has tips for how to share your mental health history with a partner. You may be concerned about how your partner will react, but there are positive ways — and many good reasons — to communicate what you’ve been through. “By sharing your health history, you share insight into not just your challenges but also your strengths,” says NAMI.

Recovery from Emotional Trauma at Willow House for Women

At Willow House, we utilize a number of proven treatments and therapies to help women recover from emotional trauma and associated substance use or mental health conditions. We use experiential therapies like expressive arts, music, and peer support to help women get back in touch with themselves and learn to thrive again. If you think you or a loved one may need treatment for intimacy disorders, emotional trauma, or co-occurring disorders, please get in touch with our team today. We can tell you more about our program and help you get started on the journey to recovery.