Psychologist Guy Winch wants us to pay as much attention to our emotional health as our physical wellbeing
Is your medicine cabinet bulging with painkillers, plasters, bandages and all manner of medicines to cure the physical symptoms of illness? How about a first aid kit for your mental health? Hmmm, not so much.
You’re not alone, and it’s uncommon for most of us to focus on our emotional hygiene, but that could be about to change. Psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid, Guy Winch, wants us to make as much effort in looking after our state of mind as we do our bodies. Last year, the author gave a TED Talk where he shared how a healthy mindset enabled him to cope with the potentially devastating news that his twin brother had an aggressive form of cancer.
Winch used a simple technique to distract himself whenever a potentially wounding negative thought came into his head about the battle his brother faced against the disease. “In my work as a psychologist, I have seen people struggle with emotional injuries over many years,” says Winch. “There is a basic ignorance about emotional hygiene and yet there is plenty of research that shows us that there are lots of things we can do to help ourselves.
“Science keeps advancing in psychology but the message isn’t getting out there. If we can educate the next generation so that emotional hygiene becomes as everyday as physical hygiene, like cleaning our teeth twice a day, we can make vast differences to our society.” Winch’s idea for an emotional medicine cabinet to treat psychological injuries is as obvious as it is revolutionary. “I got the most incredible response from my TED Talk,” says Winch. “I receive 20-30 emails each day from people who say it opened their eyes to a new way of thinking about their mindset. We place more value on the body than the mind, and while we all know how to maintain our physical health.
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