Emotions are necessary to allowing one to experience and interact with the social world. They in a sense create a personal reality. One’s emotional state can be understood as a subjective experience of life, which impacts on mental health and influences the relationship both with oneself as well as one’s relationship with others. (Langeland, 2014, Lumen, n.d.)
A better understanding of the aspects-or-dimensions which constitute emotional state is necessary to appreciating its influence on mental health.
Emotions are fundamental to influencing thought and action. When we experience positive emotions we tend to view experiences through a more positive lens. The same is true for negative emotions, when we experience negative emotions we tend to view experiences through a more negative lens. Emotion is thus an unstable construct. However, emotion – or – the ability to feel and be aware of those feelings is extremely important in creating our sense of reality. This is better understood as Emotional Differentiation.
Emotional Differentiation is one’s ability to distinguish personal emotions and to label those emotions within a subjective context. Simply put – to be able to personally identify and label one’s emotion relative to an event-or-stimulus (Vedernikova, Kuppens & Erbras, 2021). Emotional differentiation is important as it is related to various indicators of well-being. High emotional differentiation has being associated to a healthier and more effective regulation of one’s emotions and low emotional differentiation has being shown to be related to various psychological conditions such as depression as well as increased neuroticism. (Nook, 2021)
Emotions though being an unstable construct are vitally important to making sense of and giving meaning and purpose to everyday life.
Mahrabian and Russell’s (1974) three dimensional model, Pleasure, Arousal and Dominance (PAD) has being extensively used to provide insight into emotions and understanding emotional state. Despite there being an on-going debate amongst environmental psychologists regarding the interpretation of PAD, it remains a useful guide to understanding emotions and can similarly be linked to Rosenberg & Hovland’s (1960) ABC model of Attitudes; Affect Cognition, Behaviour (conative responses) (Bakker, van der Voordt, Vink & de Boon, 2014). The PAD model acknowledges Pleasure, Arousal and Dominance as three independent emotions on a continuum of extremes; happy-unhappy, stimulated-relaxed and dominant-submissive responses (Bakker et al., 2014, Krey, Espinosa & Cao, 2018). Pleasure can be understood by how one is affected by their environment, Arousal understood as what one thinks (cognitive expression) of their environment and Dominance understood as the degree to which people view their environment as restrictive versus supporting to their desired behaviour (their drives and behaviour). This model has being used in researching emotional reactions-or-responses within various social contexts including work and productivity (Bakker et al., 2014).
As highlighted by the preceding discussion on the PAD model one’s emotional state can be better understood as being influenced by the subjective appraisal of experiences and entails a combination of physiological arousal, psychological appraisal, and subjective experiences which together are components of emotion. One’s personal emotional state guides the actions and decisions made in everyday life through their influence on cognitive processes. Thus, emotions play a vital role in influencing various aspects of life such as social relationships, work-or-job satisfaction, job engagement and productivity (Langeland, 2014).
Emotional state is thus an individual’s subjective appraisal of experiences.
Subjective – individual, personal, somewhat unique
Appraisal – to evaluate, to assess, to critique
Emotional state can be linked to emotional wellbeing – if an individual has a healthy or good emotional wellbeing they may be better able to positively appraise situations maintaining a positive emotional state (Qin, Song, Nassis, Zhao, Dong, Zhao & Zhao, 2020).
Emotional Health and Emotional State
Emotions both negative and positive are essential to creating a lived reality. Developing one’s emotional regulation – the ability to control and regulate our emotional responses would be beneficial to unpacking and understanding that lived reality and possibly improving it (Kuppens, Diener & Realo, 2008). Emotional regulation will increase one’s emotional differentiation which would relate to a healthier, more positive emotional state and generally more positive mental health. Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being. As highlighted by the PAD model emotions are emotional-feeling (pleasure), cognitive (arousal) and behavioural (dominance) in nature. It is the emotional energy you represent at a given time within a given context.
To simply this and tie it into the title of this article Emotional State can be understood as ‘Your Vibe’ - “an informal term relating to a person’s emotional state or atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others.”
Therefore ‘Your Vibe’, your individual-or-personal vibe is dependent on your emotional state. In order to understand ‘Your Vibe’, or the vibe you may be presenting to others it is important to firstly understand your emotional state.
Safeguard your emotional state by being mindful of and conscious of your subjective interpretations. Cognitive therapy and counselling are great ways to identify triggers, patterned behaviour or faulty thinking and encourage introspection which all improve your overall mental health.
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