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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 53-54

Rebuilding emotional health through individual and family efforts

Department of Psychiatry, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission07-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance07-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication02-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Adarsh Kohli
Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, PGIMER, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_256_20

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How to cite this article:
Kohli A. Rebuilding emotional health through individual and family efforts. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36, Suppl S1:53-4

How to cite this URL:
Kohli A. Rebuilding emotional health through individual and family efforts. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 28];36, Suppl S1:53-4. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2020/36/5/53/297152

Murthy [1] has extensively dealt with the social issues of the pandemic in a very comprehensive, inclusive, and threadbare manner. The areas he has touched upon, the past social calamities and the ensuing social problems so encountered, and the points that need to focus on in future, need attention and a discussion.

Two points that have been mentioned revolve around the building of emotional health.[1] What can the individual do to strengthen one's emotional health and how and what the families' need to work on?

Emotional health is the ability to accept and manage in the times of crisis and change. Each aspect of mental health – physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual, – work in harmony and are synchronous with each other. When our (own) subjective experience of emotions is appropriate, it gets automatically reflected in our daily activities. Emotional distress makes one vulnerable to physical diseases, produces stress, and develops dysfunctional behavior.

The fear of COVID-19, as we are presently experiencing, can be very stressful, especially when the virus is life-threatening. Death, and when it might come, naturally and suddenly, is not as fearful, but imagining a situation where you might contract the infection by coming in close physical contact with the infected person, who otherwise seemingly looks normal and asymptomatic, is actually a panicky scenario. This situation also brings forth with it, a host of psychological, physical, economic, emotional, and social challenges that shake the entire rubric of the society. Remaining indoors, sanitizing, being bombarded by messages, media coverage, right or wrong, and not meeting people can be emotionally and socially very draining. Experts are insisting that people maintain physical and social distance, thereby depriving them of hugs, embraces, touch, handshakes, and other forms of physical contact that give them solace, caress, comfort, and security, which is a symbol of an emotional closeness and bonding. Indians are a social and hospitable community, and this social distance is haunting and killing us. Interestingly now, staying connected today is our need and priority, and we are longing to do it, because even a voice call of our supportive person – be it our counselor, our psychiatrist, our friend, a colleague – a confidant, a loved one, can be a huge relief and can give us solace and comfort in times of despair. Emotional rebuilding can take place by connecting to a good and patient listener, a person who is nonjudgmental, gives unconditional regard, and infuses positivity. An emotionally healthy person is emotionally agile. He nurtures social connections and invests in social relationships. He is a “joiner.” This social capital gives him immunity to face setbacks, crisis-like situations, disasters, and adverse times. He identifies with the larger social circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Having a strong repository of coping skills is another characteristic of good emotional health. Practicing these on a daily basis will make an individual use them when circumstances are not so favorable. The individual has to show his resilience by utilizing his coping skills and remaining focused, flexible, and productive in a difficult situation like COVID-19 (especially when it is not certain as to how the scene will unfold) and continue to remain optimistic and hopeful. We need to rediscover ourselves by distracting our minds to find new ways to be engaged in – this may be reviving an old hobby; a literary pursuit; a passion for stitching, cooking, embroidery, and painting; sketching or similar activities; chatting with a friend; capitalizing on our friendships; writing poetry; singing; reading a good book; listening to music; and reconnecting with an old friend by a phone call or a small note. All these can be very uplifting, emotionally. Being engaged in an activity that is constructive, gives a person a sense of achievement and boosts emotionally. In families, children can be encouraged to express and recognize their feelings through play, drawing, and make-belief play. By achieving a sense of control and hold over their toys and situations, children can gain mastery and feel capable of handling sudden changes in life. Children have to be encouraged to use emotional vocabulary, verbalize their feelings, and express themselves. Curbing their emotional expressions can be harmful in many ways. Bottled emotions can give rise to mental health problems. Regular exercise and workout is another way to keep us emotionally going. Remaining active releases endorphins that lifts our mood and gives us added energy. Prioritizing on physical activities such as walking and cycling, refreshes our mind and keeps us healthy, mentally, and emotionally. It is now well known that the mind and body have very definite relations and links. Living with a purpose, giving and receiving compassion, and appreciation of what we have, has given a new realization and meaning to life. Mindfulness is a well-established, well-documented, and researched technique. We need to practice mindfulness and be aware of nature. Having a goal in life generates new cells and creates new neural pathways in the brain. When we have a mission in life, we will be able to use our experience to benefit others, rather than being engrossed in one's own emotions. Paying attention to God's small bounties – like a sunset, trees, sunrise, rainbow, rain, trees, plants, and flower, again rejuvenates us. Being humble, grateful, contented and empathetic is a key to emotional wellness and strength. Meditation, yoga, autogenic training, contemplation, deep breathing, and introspection can give us helpful insights into ourselves and reinforce our ability to remain emotionally strong. Self-awareness is inculcated through these techniques, which helps in emotion regulation. The feeling of relaxation that is induced soothes our mind and body, bringing peace and tranquility. Food also has an important role to play, that is, a balanced diet which is healthy, nutritious, and wholesome, and sleep should be adequate and fulfilling, to remain emotionally and mentally fit.

The individual lives within the family so that the people around him, all “the significant others” inside the home, contribute to the individual's emotional health, to a very significant level. Members of a family are confined to a limited place, so the chances of clashes, bickering, and arguments are more; the family dynamics, and combined with it, the actions and reactions of the family members, and their fears and anxieties. To maintain an emotionally healthy and noncontroversial atmosphere, restraint and tolerance has to be practiced at home. Doing family activities together such as playing indoor games (cards, ludo, carom, and scrabble), watching movies, cooking, gardening, doing household chores, and having a meal together can strengthen the family ties and bring a sense of harmony and togetherness. Joint activities give us an ample opportunity to reconnect with each other physically, psychologically, and emotionally. An emotionally secure home and a congenial environment are essential where all feelings are accepted, howsoever, unacceptable they may be. The adults know how to decode the facial expressions of others and work through their feelings, in order to resolve issues. To maintain our mental health, we have to be attuned to each other's needs and develop empathy and acceptance. Providing support to each other, reaching out to them, whenever needed, and spending quality time together will strengthen the emotional bond and make us more resilient. In future, we shall be able to face the challenges of life with the family backbone. Keeping the communication channels open and discussing, suggesting, advising, and keeping the conversation going is one big way to reduce stress, clear our apprehensions, feel secure, and cement our bonding. Listening to each other, openness to ideas, flexibility, and emotional honesty go a long way in the process of emotional development. Now is the time to rebuild relationships, gather our missing links, pick up our threads, and start afresh. Emotional assurance by words, gestures, messages, and expressions will fill all gaps in forming and managing relationships. Home and the people inside it, have an abundance of emotional memories, and it is time to hold on to them, revive them, to sustain and regain emotional and mental stability.

Once we have emotional congruency, we enhance our ability to adapt to the sudden, unprecedented changes in life situations like COVID-19 which have long-term consequences such as economic crisis, loss of jobs, health issues, and increased burden of household chores. Good emotional, mental, and psychological health will keep us in high self-esteem, and it will equip us better to face the challenges of life by positive actions and achievement-oriented and problem-solving skills. Thus, being emotionally healthy and resilient automatically takes care of our mental health holistically: physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Murthy RS. COVID-19 pandemic and emotional health-social psychiatry perspective. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36 (Suppl).S24-42.  Back to cited text no. 1


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