Emotional Hygiene is a term credited to the Dalai Lama, which encourages us to get emotions, like anger, frustration, and anxiety, under control. Negative thoughts or feelings, when packed on, feel like dirt that you just want to wash away. It makes you feel icky, emotionally uncomfortable, often to the point of distraction. On this note, an interesting related tangent, ancient Greek doctors believed that different organs controlled certain moods: happiness coming from the heart, anger from the liver, and fear from the kidneys. So the point here is to lead with joy from the heart and to take care of not harboring negativity neither towards yourself nor sending it to others. Believe it or not, sleep can help with this. REM sleep has been found to enable people to recover from emotional distress, even when traumatic. How? Well, the production of stress-related hormones, cortisol and epinephrine, are significantly reduced during the REM stage of sleep. Though why should you really care? A great reason to take care of your Emotional Hygiene is that it helps you from becoming overwhelmed. To that, it is a great idea to express gratitude on a regular basis, make time to play, let go of debilitating feelings, and to nurture those you love.As I was writing this, I came across a terrific saying for cultivating Emotional Hygiene: Live Clean and Rest Gently. The L in Live reminds us to listen to what our friends, parents and those we respect have to say with an open heart, without defense or judgment. The C in Clean suggests that you call out whatever is bugging you, seeing it as an isolated incident, and not allowing it to grow from a molehill into a mountain. The R in Rest tells us to resist rumination so that our negative thoughts neither consume nor define us. Finally, the G in Gently is for Gratitude, something I already mentioned as being a good thing to express in general.
“Values are related to our emotions, just as we practice physical hygiene to preserve our physical health, we need to observe emotional hygiene to preserve a healthy mind and attitudes.” ~Dalai Lama
Everything said I think indeed that the best way to keep your Emotional Hygiene in check is through prayer or meditation. When you cultivate a healthy inner world, the rest follows. Or, as Byron Katie, author and teacher of “The Work” suggests, there are three kinds of business: my business, your business, and God’s business. So if we each mind our respective business, we should be good on the Emotional Hygiene front.