The Importance of Emotional Well-Being vs Mental Well-Being in the Workplace

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Mental well-being is such a hot topic right now, but do people understand emotional well-being and the difference between the two?

To Tara Kraus, founder of BreakWell, emotional well-being is how we understand and regulate emotions – how we interpret, respond and react – as we encounter big and small challenges in life. It’s about being resilient. And bouncing back.

On the other hand, mental well-being can refer to medically diagnosed conditions. But it also encompasses our general level of satisfaction, ability to perform and capacity to interact with others. We cover mental health more comprehensively in this blog post.

From CEO to frontline, emotional well-being is something we ALL need to better understand and care for.

Why Emotional Well-Being Deserves Its Own Space

Since the pandemic, people are feeling more and more isolated – and this is affecting their emotional well-being individually but also the emotional well-being of our society as a whole. Humans need social connection (social well-being) to feel emotionally well. 

When emotionally unwell, you can quickly begin to feel like you are losing control of your life – overwhelmed, stretched too thin and without clarity or attainable goals.

Also, years of unacknowledged or unaddressed emotions can fester into areas where you need deep emotional healing. Without you realizing it, this lack of emotional healing can take root in all the areas of your life and prevent you from feeling and being your best.

Emotions are highly contagious.

And finally, acting out of (especially negative) emotion rather than from a place of truth rarely brings the best results.

When you address emotional well-being separately from mental well-being, you can go deeper, make longer-lasting changes and truly feel more at peace within. Plus, you can learn to make sounder decisions without the emotions attached.

Positive emotional well-being impacts your home life. But it’s just as important in your workplace so you and your employees can perform your best, lead by positive example and contribute to your company’s success.

Distinguishing Emotional Well-Being vs Mental Well-Being

When emotionally healthy, you can learn and improve from constructive criticism instead of beating yourself up. You can feel more present with your family, coworkers or self instead of feeling preoccupied or too stretched. You can weather a tough situation or life challenge feeling more even-keeled and confident things will be OK or even better at the other end.

Sometimes we can be quick to connect thoughts and actions to mental well-being when in fact, they are more connected to our emotional well-being. Here are a few examples.

  • Regulating your nervous system not only helps your physical well-being but also empowers you to self-regulate emotions.
  • Self-care practices – it’s not always about the bubble bath or meditation itself but rather the capacity it gives you to keep your emotional well-being in check.
  • Honoring and trusting yourself or your inner guiding system – this can be a reflection of, and influencer of, your self-worth, confidence and how you feel.

A Quick Look at Emotional Well-Being in the Workplace

According to this Harvard Business Review study in 2021, the leading contributor (56%) to a sharp decline in workplace well-being was an increase in job demands. Higher demands can create added stress and anxiety as well as feelings of being undervalued – and resentful.

And though working remotely has allowed more flexibility and room for nutritional or fitness improvements, it has also brought more challenges. People find it harder to disconnect at the end of a workday and “leave work at work”. Team members feel less clear and connected on their goals. And employee engagement has declined at a time when it’s imperative to keep reliable, hard-working employees on board.

The Benefits of Strong Emotional Well-Being in the Workplace

It’s no surprise that your emotional well-being mingles with your other 7 pillars of well-being. They impact one another. But let’s take a closer look through a few examples.

When you are not emotionally well, you may:

  1. Avoid your friends and family (social well-being).
  2. Repeatedly practice negative self-talk or tell yourself lies (mental well-being).
  3. Choose to stay inside instead of taking a walk outside (physical well-being).
  4. Refrain from being more assertive and contributing to that project (career well-being).
  5. Buy based on emotions instead of making sound decisions (financial well-being).
  6. Neglect to honor your feelings of being unsafe because you may appear too high-maintenance, OR say yes to something that is truly unsafe (safety).
  7. Miss out on opportunities to contribute to your local passion project due to a lack of self-confidence or self-worth (community).

These are just a few examples of how your emotional well-being can impact your overall well-being. The level of impact can be shocking when you add all the little instances together. Just in the physical realm itself, poor emotional health can contribute to weight gain or loss, immune disorders (constant fight or flight), heart problems and much more.

So how do you break the cycle of poor emotional health to advance your overall well-being – and how well you show up at home and work?

You may start with some direct ways:

  • Write a daily log/journal of things you are grateful for.
  • Talk to neighbors, friends or coworkers who leave you feeling more positive.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Be still and allow yourself time to process your day and emotions.

Or you may boost your emotional well-being from the other pillars (indirectly):

  • Take a walk or stretch daily.
  • Make getting 7-9 hours of sleep daily a priority.
  • Pause and limit your use of “I don’t know”.
  • Say yes to something that will make a positive impact and is a bit outside of your comfort zone – at work or in your community.
  • Create a simple budget or new money habit and stick to it.

To be successful, only start 1 new habit at a time. Also, remember it can take a minimum of 21 consecutive days for your new habit to stick. It may seem like a slow go at first, but this approach sets you up for success rather than disappointment – leaving a negative effect. For much more on the psychology behind, and how-tos for, establishing new habits, read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits.

For regular emotional well-being care for your employees, BreakWell will help drive positive, lasting change through human-to-human connection and support. We have a pool of resources and providers, with no cookie-cutter approach. Instead:

1. We listen to your company’s needs.

2. We meet with your employees for personal, less filtered feedback.

3. You receive recommendations, resources and implementation systems that nurture your employees and company to strong emotional well-being.

Don’t underestimate the power of emotional well-being in your workplace – different from mental well-being. It’s one of 8 areas of well-being we have extensive experience in and that is more critically broken now than ever before. Set up your free consultation with BreakWell to improve the emotional well-being of your employees as valued individuals – and your company as a whole.

Contributing Co-Authors: Tara Kraus & Natalie Gensits


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