We all know how important it is to eat properly. But did you know it’s also crucial to have a well balanced emotional diet too? You are what you eat, after all, and that goes for your mental state!
Since I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have to pay special attention to where my energy is placed and where it comes from in order not to feel drained at the end of the day/week/month. That’s where the emotional diet comes into play.
What’s an emotional diet? To me it’s a useful metaphor for the collection of of activities I do on a regular basis affecting my energy. Like a mental caloric intake if you will. If I watch carefully and balance what’s incoming, I’m able to maintain a healthy mood. If I’m not selective about what I consume, I pay the price in the long term (and so does everyone else around me).
So what does this emotional meal plan consist of? Like physical diets, they vary based on a person’s needs. Only you can say what constitutes junk food or health food for your mind. For me things involving movement are the most optimum activities I can do but for others it could be rest that’s best for them.
It all depends! I’ll provide you with my examples below just to get you started with this concept. And if you want to do this exercise too, just remember to do it based on what feels right for you!
Emotional Junk Food
Emotional Junk Food is stuff that makes me feel good (very good) in the moment but is actively bad for my mental health in the near to long term.
It’s like chips, soda, and cake but for your brain, These activities provide a quick hit of endorphins followed by a sharp crash followed by craving for more. They can lead to a bad situation if ingested frequently.
For me these activities are things like:
- Laying in bed scrolling Facebook
- Drinking alcohol
- Looking at COVID-19 news before bed/first thing when I get up
- Seeking acceptance and reassurance from Bruce
- Going to bed with the lights on and without brushing teeth
- Falling into the Youtube video rabbit hole
- Checking stats on the blog obsessively
- Binging TV shows
Emotional Meat and Potatoes
Now this stuff is like the meat and potatoes of my emotional intake for the day. Mostly it’s hearty, healthy movement based activities that give me energy for the day.
They require a little bit of activation energy to get started. So they do come at a cost just like real meat and potatoes are good for you but may be high in calories.
For the most part, though, these activities are easy to maintain and have a good energy pay off after I complete them.
They’re things like:
- Sticking with a routine
- Movement (walking for me right now)
- Making a full meal (instead of just snacks or junk food)
- Yin Yoga
Emotional Health Food
Okay so this stuff is like the Quinoa of my daily emotional diet. FYI I hate Quinoa and most health food. But I know it’s good for me so I eat it.
These activities are not my favorite because they require a pretty high level of activation energy and exact an emotional price from me directly after I do them. Like health food they’re about as appetizing to me as chewing on raw broccoli 😛 😛 😛
But I know if I suck it up and eat the emotional kale (yuck), I’m energetic and bright for hours and even days. I might even end up enjoying the activity after a while.
These activities are things like:
- Social Interactions
- Difficult conversations
- Writing emotionally charged content
- Being emotionally available to other people who need help
- Doing breath work or any kind of inner child/shadow work
- Organizing our finances
Emotional Fruits and Veggies
For me, emotional fruits and veggies are my favorite part of the diet, even better than the junk food.
The cool thing about fruits and veggies is I could eat them all day and not have to worry about consequences. In fact I know the more I eat, the better I’ll feel.
Just like with the real life foods, these self care activities cost me nothing. No activation energy, no feeling drained, just the happiness that comes from doing something delicious (as a yoga instructor once described it)
- Self-Hypnosis and ASMR
- Listening to epic music and daydreaming
- Taking a bath
- Wrapping myself in my super soft blanket
- Playing with cat
Having a Balanced Diet
As in all things, it’s about moderation.
For me I’ve noticed that indulging in a little mental junk food is fine. It’s just like having some cake every now and then. It’s when I’m doing it on the regular that I feel gross, headachy, and extremely anxious.
On that same ticket, if I overdo the emotional health food by being too social or leaving my heart open for others too much, I feel equally as crappy.
Really, it all comes down to mindfully managing my emotional intake, basically maintaining a healthy mental diet.
How do you regulate your moods? Do you have a healthy emotional diet? I’d love to know in the comments below!