10 Ways to Create an Emotionally Healthy Home

Employ these strategies to support everyone's emotional health.

Posted Sep 02, 2020

oatawa/iStock
Source: oatawa/iStock

When thinking about a healthy home, most people envision air purifiers and a clean kitchen.

But the emotional health of a home matters, too — probably even more than the bacteria count on your kitchen island.

After all, the emotional health of the home you were raised in impacts you for the rest of your life.  

So it's essential to create an emotionally healthy home for your family. And even if you don't have children, establishing an environment that supports good psychological well-being is still paramount to feeling and doing your best in life. 

Here are 10 ways to create an emotionally healthy home:

1. Provide Time, Attention, and Affection. The quality of time you spend together as a family matters more than the quantity of time. Giving your genuine attention for 30 minutes is more impactful than spending 60 minutes together while you stare at your phone.  

Spend time together every day. Make family meals a priority. Develop rituals as well, such as reading a story together before bedtime. Show affection, express how much you care, and practice being present with everyone every single day.

2. Design a Space That Evokes Positive Emotions. Designing a home that helps your family feel good doesn’t have to be expensive. A well-organized space can go a long way toward helping everyone feel their best.

Whether you do some serious decluttering to create a sanctuary-like space, or you add family photos that make everyone smile, make it a priority to establish spaces that help everyone feel happy, and loved.

3. Establish Clear Rules. Rules are meant to keep everyone safe — both physically and emotionally. So, it’s important to establish rules that will help everyone understand what’s acceptable and what isn’t.  

When you create a rule like “No yelling” and “No name calling” everyone might feel a little safer.

Other rules, like "Knock on closed doors before entering" and "Ask before borrowing something," can also help everyone know that they have a right to privacy and their belongings will be safe.

4. Provide Consequences for Rule Violations. While no child enjoys having their privileges removed, consequences remind them that you're in charge. And while they probably won’t appear grateful for those reminders, deep down they experience a sense of security when you show them that you’re going to keep them safe.

Make consequences known ahead of time. Let your kids know that if they choose to break the rules, you’ll provide a consequence to help them learn to make better decisions next time.

5. Use "Feeling" Words Liberally. Whether you talk about feeling sad when the weather caused you to have to cancel your outdoor plans, or you acknowledge feeling a little nervous about the upcoming presentation you're going to give, initiate an open discussion about feelings. This will help everyone feel more comfortable talking about their emotions.

When you incorporate feeling words into your everyday language, you'll also build your children's emotional vocabulary. And when they have the language to tell you how they feel, they’ll be less likely to feel the need to show you that they’re angry (with tantrums).

6. Validate Everyone's Emotions. Saying things like "Stop crying" or "Don't worry about it" sends a message to kids that their feelings are wrong. And dismissing their emotions can cause a lot of psychological harm. 

Make it clear that whatever someone feels is OK. Anger, frustration, sadness, embarrassment, and anxiety are all acceptable emotions. It’s what they choose to do with those emotions that matters.

Teach that it’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to hit. Or that it’s OK to feel sad but it’s not OK to cry loudly in the library. With some guidance and coaching from you, they can learn how to manage their emotions in healthy ways.

7. Hold Tough Conversations. It can be tempting to ignore uncomfortable issues — like someone's lack of hygiene or a budding mental health problem. But ignoring the "elephant in the room" won’t make problems go away. In fact, unaddressed issues tend to get worse over time.

Tackle tough topics with love and honesty. Show your family members that you have enough trust in your relationship to talk about subjects that stir up uncomfortable feelings.

8. Practice Healthy Conflict Resolution. Disagreements don’t have to be a bad thing. But the way you handle them might be. Using the silent treatment, yelling, making threats, or calling one another names will crush the emotional health of any home.

Compromise, set healthy boundaries, and problem-solve together to resolve conflict. Whether you’re trying to agree on a weekend activity or you’re working on a home improvement project, help everyone get their needs met in a healthy way.

9. Reach for Healthy Coping Skills. While comfort food, alcohol, and incessant social media scrolling might make you feel better for a minute, these coping skills can introduce new problems into your life. And they only temporarily numb your pain.  

Practice healthy coping strategies when you’re struggling with an uncomfortable emotion. Experiment with a variety of coping skills, like reading, gardening, and exercising. Show your family that you’re devoted to taking the steps you need to manage your emotional distress in a healthy way.

10. Talk About Mental Health. Talk openly about the fact that anyone can develop a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. Make it clear that seeing a professional for your mind is no different than seeing a dentist for your teeth or a doctor for your body. Make it clear that it's OK to talk to a mental health professional.

Set aside time to do things that are good for your mental health, like spending time in nature and talking to friends. Talk about the importance of self-care and share the strategies that help you feel mentally strong.

Check Psychology Today's directory of therapists for a professional near you.