Emotional well-being is something all of us want, but not many of us take the time to think about or work on. Good emotional balance is crucial to part of a healthy lifestyle because it can boost happiness and improve relationships.

Reducing emotional stress also helps combat many physical ailments, including obesity, heart disease and digestive problems.

Identifying emotions

Emotional well-being starts with tuning into your emotions. One sign of awareness is the ability to label what you’re feeling. Just being able to identify an unpleasant emotion can decrease its intensity of it.

When you aren’t sure what you’re feeling, run through a mental checklist of basic emotions: happiness, surprise, disgust, fear, anger and sadness. Use body cues, for instance, sweaty palms or clenched teeth, to help you figure out which ones you’re feeling. They way your body reacts will help guide you in identifying your feelings.

The goal is not to feel happy all the time, that’s unrealistic and unattainable. Instead, being emotionally healthy means experiencing all your emotions and then dealing with them in a positive way. Practice managing difficult feelings by turning to others for support instead of shutting down and trying to dull your feelings with food or alcohol.

Be kind to yourself

Another sign of emotional health is being kind to yourself when you’re feeling distressed. Show yourself the same compassion you would give a loved one who is upset. When you need a hug but there’s no one to give you one, fold your arms and give yourself a little squeeze.

Own your mistakes

Emotionally healthy people can recognize when they’ve made a mistake, make it right and then move on. When someone else points out the error, they accept it without becoming defensive or overwhelmed. If your misstep has hurt someone, try offering a sincere apology, discuss what they need from you to make it better and begin mending the relationship.

Keep stress in check

Being able to cope with stressful situations is imperative to your emotional well-being. If you’re a good stress manager, you’ve probably found calming techniques that work for you, such as counting to 10, taking deep breaths, calling a friend or going for a walk. Without learning how to manage stress, out-of-control feelings may lead to temper outbursts, trouble sleeping, headaches, an upset stomach or other problems.

When you’re feeling stressed, watch how you talk to yourself. Cut out negative self-talk and replace it with positive thoughts.

Live in the moment

Mindfulness is more than just a buzzword. It’s a proven technique for reducing stress, decreasing hostility, improving relationships and boosting happiness. Mindfulness means being fully aware of your internal experience as it unfolds. You notice sensations, feelings and thoughts, but you don’t judge them or get hung up on them.

Decide which activities bring you joy and satisfaction and spend your time doing those things as much as your schedule will allow. Looking for ways to get the most enjoyment from life is another mark of emotional well-being. Ideally, you should spend some time every day on just-for-fun activities, such as dancing, listening to music, reading a novel or any other activity that focuses on your joy.

Question: Do you struggle with emotional well-being? If so, what steps will you take to be kinder to yourself?